Israeli Nobel winners slam effort to curb National Library independence

Israeli Nobel Prize winner Ada Yonath, who is also a professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science, at a press conference in Rehovot. (Flash90)
Israeli Nobel Prize winner Ada Yonath, who is also a professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science, at a press conference in Rehovot. (Flash90)

Seven Nobel Prize winners send a letter calling on the government to freeze its planned legislation to curb the National Library of Israel’s independence by allowing the government to determine the makeup of the library’s board.

The letter, addressed to President Isaac Herzog, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Yoav Kisch, warns that “harm to the National Library hurts us all.”

“Political interference in such an important national, historical, and cultural institution turns it into a ball on the political playing field,” says the letter signed by six Israeli winners Daniel Kahneman, Avram Hershko, Arieh Warshel, Ada Yonath, Michael Levitt, and Aaron Ciechanover. The letter is also signed by Jewish American prize winner Roger Kornberg.

Reports on the bill have noted that right-wing politicians have been targeting the library for the past year since the appointment of former state attorney Shai Nitzan as library rector.

Nitzan was heavily involved in preparing the corruption charges against Netanyahu and has been portrayed by the prime minister’s associates, without proof, as a left-wing activist bent on removing the premier from office through illegitimate means.

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