On Shafarevich And NAS: Tolerance Vs. Indifference

Editor's Note: Last July, National Academy of Sciences president Frank Press and foreign secretary James Wyngaarden sent an unprecedented letter to Russian mathematician Igor R. Shafarevich, head of the V.A. Steklov Institute in Moscow, suggesting that he resign his membership as a foreign associate of NAS because of "anti-Semitic writings" contained in Russophobia, a book by Shafarevich. The letter further alleged that Shafarevich "used [his] position to interfere with the careers" of young Je

Semyon Reznik
Apr 18, 1993
Editor's Note: Last July, National Academy of Sciences president Frank Press and foreign secretary James Wyngaarden sent an unprecedented letter to Russian mathematician Igor R. Shafarevich, head of the V.A. Steklov Institute in Moscow, suggesting that he resign his membership as a foreign associate of NAS because of "anti-Semitic writings" contained in Russophobia, a book by Shafarevich. The letter further alleged that Shafarevich "used [his] position to interfere with the careers" of young Jewish mathematicians. Shafarevich, denying that Russophobia is an anti-Semitic work and that he interfered with anyone's career, refused to resign from the academy.

When word of the letter spread through the scientific community, several mathematicians and NAS members from all over the world criticized the academy's action. For one thing, they said, NAS had not previously criticized a member for holding unpopular beliefs, although numerous precedents existed. Furthermore, several Jewish former students of Shafarevich reported that he...

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