Max Planck Society Stands with Israel: A Beacon of Solidarity Amidst Rising Antisemitism

Max Planck Society Stands with Israel: A Beacon of Solidarity Amidst Rising Antisemitism

German research organization defies antisemitic behavior on campus and supports Israeli scientists amidst ongoing conflict

As antisemitic incidents continue to rise on university campuses in the United States and international academics shun their Israeli counterparts, the Max Planck Society has chosen to stand up for Israel. The society recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of its Minerva Foundation’s fellowship program in Israel, despite the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. The visit aimed to show solidarity and support to Israeli researchers, with the message that they are not alone in their suffering.

A Symbolic Visit

The Max Planck Society, Germany’s leading non-university research organization, made the decision to visit Israel in late November, despite the ongoing conflict. The visit was planned to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Minerva Foundation’s fellowship program, which has facilitated the exchange of over 2,000 young researchers between Germany and Israel. The society’s president, Prof. Patrick Cramer, emphasized the importance of being physically present to convey their support to their Israeli colleagues.

A Message of Solidarity

During their visit, Prof. Cramer and his colleagues met with presidents and vice presidents of Israeli universities, research institutes, and scientific associations. The Israeli representatives expressed their deep appreciation for the solidarity shown by the Max Planck Society, highlighting the significance of their visit as the first by a foreign research institution since the conflict began. Prof. Arie Zaban, President of Bar-Ilan University, acknowledged the society’s clear morality and appealed for continued collaboration, exchanges, grants, and securing EU funding.

Addressing the Challenges

The visit provided an opportunity for the Israeli representatives to discuss the challenges they have faced in recent months. Prof. Alon Chen, President of the Weizmann Institute, highlighted the impact of Israeli researchers being called up for reserve military duty and the immediate withdrawal of foreign students and postdocs from Israel. This has resulted in research labs operating at half-capacity. Prof. Cramer offered support by proposing to host a conference in Berlin that was originally planned to be held in Israel, allowing Israeli scientists to continue their professional lives amidst the difficult times.

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Rejecting Antisemitism

The Max Planck Society has taken a firm stance against antisemitism, a critical move considering the history of its predecessor, the Kaiser Wilhelm Society, which employed Nazi sympathizers and collaborators in the 1930s and 1940s. Prof. Cramer emphasized that while criticism of political decisions is essential in democracies, there must be zero tolerance for antisemitism. This unequivocal rejection of antisemitism aligns with the society’s commitment to learning from its past and standing firmly against hatred and discrimination.

Remembering the Past

During their visit, Prof. Cramer and his colleagues paid their respects at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial. They laid a wreath in memory of Kaiser Wilhelm Society members who were victims of the Holocaust, including Fritz Epstein, Fritz Duschinsky, and Marie Wreschner. This act served as a reminder of the tragic consequences of antisemitism and the importance of standing against it.

Conclusion:

The Max Planck Society’s visit to Israel to celebrate the Minerva Foundation’s fellowship program demonstrates a powerful message of solidarity and support amidst rising antisemitism. By choosing to stand with Israeli scientists and researchers, the society has shown that it is possible to learn from history and reject hatred. As universities in the United States struggle to address antisemitic behavior, the Max Planck Society’s resolute stance against antisemitism serves as a beacon of hope and an example of moral leadership. In a world where division and discrimination persist, the society’s actions remind us of the importance of unity and standing up for what is right.