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Mixing Science and Politics

D.F. Dowd Joel Hirsch, an Israeli biochemist at Tel Aviv University, has one more thing to worry about when he submits a scientific paper for publication: the possibility that scientists who disagree with his country's policies will shun his work. "My nightmare scenario is that the paper gets sent to a reviewer who might have an axe to grind about Israeli scientists," Hirsch says. In the year since some British researchers called for a boycott of Israeli scientists, funding agencies have larg

Catherine Zandonella
D.F. Dowd

Joel Hirsch, an Israeli biochemist at Tel Aviv University, has one more thing to worry about when he submits a scientific paper for publication: the possibility that scientists who disagree with his country's policies will shun his work. "My nightmare scenario is that the paper gets sent to a reviewer who might have an axe to grind about Israeli scientists," Hirsch says.

In the year since some British researchers called for a boycott of Israeli scientists, funding agencies have largely rejected such appeals. A subtler, possibly no less-damaging kind of boycott has surfaced, in which researchers express their outrage with the Israeli government by refusing to interact with Israeli scientists. As a result, when a talk is canceled, or a faculty member receives no reply from a European colleague, Israeli scientists can't help but think the worst. "I can't be sure if it was because I am Israeli,"...

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