News of the WeekFrance

Physics Prize Falls Foul of Middle East Politics

Science  05 Mar 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5407, pp. 1422-1423
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5407.1422

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Summary

PARIS-- A bitter dispute has broken out among some of France's leading physicists over a decision by the French Physical Society (SFP) to block the award of a prize named after a Lebanese scientist to an eminent Israeli researcher. The prize jury voted to award the 1998 Rammal Medal to Israeli theoretical physicist Daniel Amit last October, subject to the approval of the SFP. But in the wake of a concerted campaign of opposition to the award in Lebanon, SFP officers decided early last month to overturn the decision and leave the medal unattributed for 1998. Officials at the French embassy in Beirut and the foreign affairs ministry in Paris also became embroiled in the affair, possibly exerting an influence on the outcome.