The Hamas terrorist attack and its consequences: voices from the Israeli network

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‘Let us not be mere bystanders. Let us be advocates for justice, equality and peace, and let us actively champion a profound respect for the dignity of human life – all human life,’ is the wish expressed in an open letter from Israel’s science organisations to the academic world.

The Humboldt Foundation shares this view, has condemned the brutal attack by Hamas and stands in solidarity with its friends in Israel.

‘I am very concerned about anti-Semitism and the situation in the Middle East. I call on all members of the Humboldt Family, wherever necessary, to stand up for the safety of Jewish colleagues and students of whatever nationality,’ said the Foundation’s President, Robert Schlögl.

The Humboldtians Assaf Gal (Rehovot, Israel) and Omri Boehm (New York, USA), report on the consequences of the Hamas massacre.

Assaf Gal is a researcher at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, exploring the mechanisms by which algae form complex inorganic matter whose spectacular mineralogical morphology surpasses any man-made material. From 2015 to 2017, Gal was a Humboldt Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Potsdam.

The German-Israeli philosopher, Omri Boehm, is an Associate Professor at the New School for Social Research in New York, where Hannah Arendt was a teacher. From 2015 to 2018 he was a Humboldt postdoctoral fellow at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich where he is currently visiting once again. Boehm has written, inter alia, the book ‘Israel – a Utopia’ that was published in 2020.

Humboldt Foundation: Dr Gal, Rehovot is just 50 km from Gaza as the crow flies. What effect has 7 October had on your daily work at the Weizmann Institute and the science system in Israel in general?
Assaf Gal: There are ten people in my research group, five of them are now abroad, two have been drafted, which leaves just three of us. At the moment, we are still experiencing alarms roughly every other day due to rocket fire. So, we can’t work normally. Many students have been called up, and shortly after the attack as few people as possible were supposed to be on the road. The start of the academic year in Israel has been postponed because many students are away and many institutions don’t have enough shelters. But in December it is supposed to resume.

Professor Boehm, how do you assess the consequences of the Hamas attack on Israeli society?
Omri Boehm: Israel was always perceived as a homeland. Questions of safety were always under doubt, we always thought of ourselves as living in a dangerous place, in a fraught reality, to be honest, not completely believing that ourselves and subscribing, rather, to the thought that our military power can protect us. The main significance of the homeland was not the feeling of security, but rather that we will be protecting ourselves. And this feeling is indeed undermined, and it will take a moment to restore. I fear that people seek to satisfy the need to restore it also by showing an aggressive response in Gaza. 

The full interview is available on the Humboldt Foundation’s website.

Source: Humboldt Foundation