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Tel Aviv professor warns: Israeli researchers face global 'creeping boycott'

Tel Aviv University Professor Ido Wolf (Photo: Ichilov Hospital)

The Israeli research community, known for its high level of skills and innovation, has played a prominent role in advancing international scientific breakthroughs in numerous fields. However, Tel Aviv University Professor Ido Wolf fears that Israeli researchers increasingly face a “creeping boycott” since the Hamas terrorist organization Hamas launched its unprecedented attack against Israel on Oct. 7.

"In the past six months, the damage has become very apparent. Whereas pharmaceutical companies used to seek us out, today we have to fight them just to be included in a trial. Even scientific journals that used to favor and publish our articles are now rejecting us with various excuses. I'm talking about a new and threatening reality, one that we did not know in the past and certainly not to this extent," Wolf warned.

Wolf acknowledged that there is currently no official international boycott against Israeli medical professionals and researchers, but he warned of a growing covert boycott.

"People often ask me if due to the war, there is a boycott against medicine and doctors in Israel, and I say 'no.' There's no overt boycott. An overt boycott comes with blunt and crude statements and public actions, like demonstrations."

But what cannot be ignored is the creeping, low-key, underground boycott, whitewashed with legitimate excuses and disguised as something tolerable and forgivable," he continued, adding that "it's doubly dangerous compared to a clear boycott that we know how to fight against or that ends on its own."

"There is no way, means or ability to fight against something elusive and fluid," he said and in his opinion: "Israeli medicine will lose its global scientific leadership."

While anti-Israel bigotry should not be underestimated, the Wold stressed that most investors and scientists are driven by a cost-benefit approach that seeks to maximize value while minimizing risks. Due to the ongoing war with the Iranian-backed terror militias Hamas and Hezbollah, Israel is increasingly associated with longer-term risks.

"Scientists hesitate to visit a nation in conflict, pharmaceutical firms are recalculating their risk assessments, and I fear the day they choose to cut back on our connections—why would they risk it? Without these connections, there are no clinical trials, no research, and patients ultimately pay the price," Wolf said.

While Israel faces numerous security threats in a region of geopolitical instability, the Jewish state still stands out as a leading global hub of innovation. Israeli researchers offer unique skills which makes Israel an attractive partner in various international scientific projects.

For example, researchers from Israel, Japan, China and South Korea recently discovered a breakthrough method for producing graphene, a material that is a central component in the nanoelectronics industry. Prof. Michael Urbakh and Prof. Oded Hod from Tel Aviv University’s School of Chemistry explained its scientific importance.

"The significance of the new development lies in the fact that, for the first time, it’ll be possible to grow and produce carbon-based nanoelectronic devices directly within an isolated matrix. Such devices are expected to serve various technological applications, including electronic systems, spintronics, and quantum computing devices." 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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