Israeli concern about Palestinian suffering

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Posted by Lilly from ? ( on Monday, August 05, 2002 at 1:41PM :

In Reply to: Re: Believe This posted by Julia from ( on Monday, August 05, 2002 at 11:13AM :

Nature 418, 479 (August 1, 2002) © Macmillan Publishers Ltd.

Israeli concern about Palestinian suffering

Sir – I am an Israeli chemist and a human-rights volunteer writing in response to your Opinion article "Collaboration in extremis" (Nature 417, 207; 2002), in which you expressed encouragement and support for joint Israeli–Palestinian collaborative science. (See also Correspondence, Nature 417, 689–690; 2002.)

Although well-intentioned, your article is, in my view, off the mark. The situation of the 3.5 million people in Palestine is much worse than you imagine. People are locked in disconnected ghettos, sometimes invaded by the Israeli army. Without a state or citizenship of any country, the Palestinians are unprotected by a legal system, and totally in the power of an army run by people whose notion of 'national security' is to wreak as much destruction in Palestine as they can get away with.

Travel between ghettos is difficult and dangerous, sometimes deadly. External help is hard to get; journalists and human-rights activists are routinely barred by the simple expedient of declaring 'closed military zones'. There is no end in sight, as most Israelis seem unable to grasp that Sharon's policies promote bloodshed on both sides instead of preventing it.

So the laudable suggestions of your article, to promote normalization and collaborations, do not seem relevant. At present, Palestinian academics are unlikely to place high priority on the quality of their scientific collaborations. They are more likely to worry about issues such as being able to get to work tomorrow, being sent to a detention camp, the next military invasion, demolition of their homes, harassment at military roadblocks and, indeed, about survival.

Friends in science, help by well-meaning foreigners is badly needed here. However, please keep it to the point.

Victoria Buch

-- Lilly
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