Nobel Prize winner calls for boycott of Israel physics contest

The 2018 winner of the Nobel Prize in chemistry is urging a boycott of a physics competition in Tel Aviv in July.

George P. Smith and 19 other scientists signed an open letter last week that calls on “all students and mentors from all over the world not to participate in the next International Physics Olympiad in Israel and to stand for human rights of the young Palestinian pupils and students, including their right to education.”

Smith, emeritus professor of biology at the University of Missouri, won last year’s Nobel Prize in chemistry for his invention of a process to evolve proteins that can be used to develop new medicines.

The International Physics Olympiad claims that its goal is to plant “the seeds of cooperation and friendship among students from all over the world.”

But the scientists’ letter notes that “Under the present circumstances, citizens of many countries are de facto excluded from entering Israel and attending the IPhO, not to mention Palestinian students from the West Bank and Gaza.”

“As academics and citizens we wish to draw your attention to the serious situation facing Palestinian schoolchildren, students and teachers,” the letter adds.

“The people in Gaza live under a harsh blockade, students and academics cannot leave even if they have a scholarship to study abroad.”

Other signatories include Catherine Goldstein, research director at France’s National Center for Scientific Research, Ivar Ekeland, former president of the Université Paris-Dauphine, and Emmanuel Farjoun, mathematics professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

The scientists name two of more than 200 Palestinian children currently in Israeli military detention: High school students Omar Zahran and Jawad Hdaib have both been in an Israeli prison without trial since last year, according to the letter.

The International Phyisics Olympiad in Tel Aviv is being sponsored by Israel’s education ministry, which until this week was headed by Naftali Bennett, a far-right anti-Palestinian politician who has boasted of his record of killing Arabs.

The contest is hosted by Tel Aviv University, which is itself deeply complicit in Israel’s system of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid against Palestinians.

Israel promotes itself as a center of science and technology, however scientific research, including some funded by the European Union, is often a cover for developing Israel’s war industry.

“We call on the boards of other International Science Olympiads to refrain from organizing their future contests in Israel, as long as it continues its military occupation and apartheid policy, in defiance of international law,” the scientists state.

Smith has previously spoken in support of the BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions – movement for Palestinian rights, including during his trip to Stockholm, Sweden, last December to pick up his Nobel Prize.

Watch a video of some of his comments above.




until israel conforms to the rule of law, a ban on all international sports, educational exchanges, air traffic, trade shows, and travel without an onerous visa process should come into effect.


AIPAC ande Trump administration are responsibles

for all the crimes which are committed against the Palestinian people.

for all the crimes committed against the Palestinian people


Israel is a brutal, occupying power. They are zealots who believe that god actually gave the land of Palestine to Israel.
This is religious fanaticism similar to that of religious people here who believe the bible gives them protection from
their handling of venemous snakes. Followers of Jim Jones, David Koresh in Texas, Jimmy Swaggart, Orel Roberts , Billy Graham (his son now.)
Americas are absolutely ignorant of the inhuman treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli military and illegal settlers.
Israel should be excluded from all economic relations with the civilized world.


Great news, and let's hope that many more scientists and academics speak out. And musicians and artists and writers and poets etc, etc, etc. It really is WAY past time!


Thank you, Prof. Smith. As you know, you will be attacked by individuals, organisations, and the state propaganda apparatuses of Israel. They will demand your teaching activities be suspended, your name purged from faculty conferences, and even that your professional awards be rescinded. You're going to face vilification in the media and intrusive investigation into your life. If they can, the Zionists will take you down. You're too prominent to ignore, and the example you're setting is one they're not prepared to countenance. What you're doing on behalf of Palestinians deserves our support. And it's to be ardently hoped that more scientists will stand with you and the other signers of this letter. It's vitally important that the public be provided with the truth about Israel's crimes against Palestinian educators and students. Again, many thanks.


Gracias Prof Smith y a los otros científicos que adhieren. Hay que ayudar a los políticos e intelectuales a volver a un Estado de Derecho en Israel. Si no seguirá dominando la fuerza bruta con su estela de civiles torturados y asesinados. Vergüenza para la Humanidad


Apartheid in South Africa was ended with boycotts and sanctions and it should be no different for Israel. Indeed the Israeli situation is worse because it involves murderous military occupation and the complete denial of human and civil rights for nearly 6 million Palestinians, simply because they are not Jews.