Meir Zadok

Meir Zadok

My name is Meir Zadok, I am the director of the Academy of Sciences in Jerusalem. Five of our members are Nobel Prize winners. We have the best scientists of national and international renown. I was born in Baghdad. Jews were expelled from Iraq despite having lived there long before all the successive empires. In 1951 we arrived here. We lived in refugee camps in tents for about 10 years. I studied in Haifa and Jerusalem and served in the army. I graduated in England in the field of financing and economics of universities and higher education. With regard to our scientific relations with other countries, even when there was revolution and counter-revolution in Egypt, the academy maintained its centre called the Academy of Sciences of Israel in Cairo; since the return to calm in Egypt, we have resumed our scientific relations with our neighbours with the ups and downs of the political situation but in fact we have writers, poets and directors who come to our centre and we are trying to keep activities in Egypt. We also have good relations with Palestinian Authority scientists and we have maintained the same relations with Jordan. Israel is behind the Sesame flagship project in Amman, which aims to establish the Sintroton radiation infrastructure with scientists from the Arab world such as Iranians, Moroccans, Egyptians, Jordanians and it works. We call it Sesame hoping that it will pave the way for peace and interaction between our peoples. As for our relations with China, scientists were the first here and at that time we had an Academy centre in China. We have relations with important countries in the West such as the US, France, Germany, England and here we have several activities that include an exchange of scientists, seminars, workshops. We are one of the most important countries in terms of funding received from Europe when it comes to competition based on excellence. Israel has the highest percentage of GDP 4.7% invested in R&D. This attracts, of course, all start-ups, major high-tech and bio-tech companies and it is because we invest a lot in research that we attract them. Considering the financial and political instability in the world, I think this is a miracle. It is a miracle to see our people, refugees from Europe after the Second World War, refugees from Arab countries who arrived here in an arid country, naked, without water, without mineral resources, nothing, for me who have lived here from the age of five to this day I say: we have gone from the Stone Age to high-tech industry for a generation. I am also trying to reach out to the minorities who live here with us, with people of different religious cultures, in difficult areas, but I think we are doing quite well. For me to be an Israeli is fascinating. You grow up with people from Ethiopia, people who come from major countries in the world, such as the United States, England and France. We have a population from about a hundred countries, from different cultures, different foods and everyone cultivates it together harmoniously through education, health, it is pleasant, it is not easy but it is surely different from countries where from generation to generation people live the same way, eat the same food…To be Israeli is to be together, to live togetherSee Jerusalem under the prism of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is extremely reductive and ignores the daily needs and aspirations of those who live there and prevents us from realizing all its potential to make it a successful world centre thanks also to its extraordinary historical and spiritual heritage. modern Jerusalem is only 160 years old and is home to some 800,000 inhabitants of whom 500,000 are Jews, the rest are Palestinians whose at least half the population lives under the poverty line. Historic Jerusalem offers 3,000 years of culture: Jebusites, Greeks, Romans, Jews, Christians, Crusaders, Muslims have left their mark and testimonies. Walking in the streets of Jerusalem is like immersing yourself in countless cultures. There are synagogues, churches, mosques, which offer a wide choice of visits, next to places of study and enlightenment; diversity should not be a handicap, on the contrary, but rather the source of inventiveness and prosperity through modern infrastructures. Jerusalem has a lot to offer the world. It can be classified as the Place that can visit, build, develop.

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