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President Herzog at the Appointment Ceremony of the Israel Academy’s New President: "it is our task to bolster the forces of science against those seeking to undermine them and call them into question"

16/11/2021
The new President of The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities received his official appointment in a ceremony held on November 14, 2021 (10 Kislev 5782), at the Official Residence of the President of Israel in Jerusalem. President Isaac Herzog appointed the Academy’s incoming President, Professor David Harel, upon the recommendation of the Academy, as stipulated in the Academy Law and the Academy’s Charter. In attendance at the ceremony were the First Lady of Israel, Mrs. Michal Herzog, outgoing Academy President Professor Nili Cohen, incoming Academy Vice President Professor Margalit Finkelberg, former Academy presidents, Academy Council members, Academy Search Committee Chair Professor Aharon Ciechanover, Academy Member Professor Moti Segev, the Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Science, Professor Avi Domb, and the acting executive director of the Council for Higher Education and its Planning and Budgeting Committee, Ms. Michal Neumann.
 
President Herzog thanked the outgoing President for enriching the work of the Academy, for her devotion to the advancement of scientific research, and for furthering the Academy’s relationships with academies abroad. Professor Cohen said in her remarks that she was “certain that the spiritual and geographic relationship between us and the President’s Official Residence will be especially robust during President Herzog’s term.”
 
From L-R: The new President of the Academy Professor David Harel and the President of Israel Isaac Herzog
 
President Herzog congratulated Professor Harel, saying: “Your term as Vice President, together with your decades of work in the core of the scientific field, have provided you with important tools to aid you in carrying out your national mission. As one who imbibed excellence at his father’s knee and has the honor of being a second-generation Israel Prize laureate, I am sure that you will bring your abundant abilities and skills to the important position that you have assumed.”
 
In his own remarks, Professor Harel spoke of the dichotomy between the proliferation of scientific achievements and the esteem for scientists, on the one hand, and resistance toward and skepticism of science, on the other. “We must combat these phenomena, along with misconceptions and disinformation about science, and empower rational-scientific thinking based on facts and logic,” he said, adding: “Precisely because our Academy is broad and inclusive, and its members come from the natural and exact sciences as well as from the humanities and the social sciences, it is interesting to observe that a similar dichotomy also exists in relation to this aspect of the world of science.” Professor Harel’s statements accorded with those of President Herzog, who said: “In the midst of a shattering offensive of fake news, it is our task to bolster the forces of science against those seeking to undermine them and call them into question – especially the COVID-19 deniers and anti-vaxxers.”
 
Professor Harel promised to work steadfastly during his term to narrow the gaps between the esteem for science and the aspersions cast upon it, and to convey this message not only to the general public but also to decision-makers. “I am determined to do everything I can, together with Margalit Finkelberg, the new Vice President, and the other members of the Academy’s Council, to enhance and intensify the local and international influence of Israeli research in its various forms – in the natural sciences and medicine, in the exact sciences, in the humanities and Jewish and religious studies, and in the social sciences, with all their components.”
 
From L-R: The new President of the Academy, Professor David Harel, First Lady of Israel, Mrs. Michal Herzog, President of Israel, Mr. Isaac Herzog and the outgoing Academy President, Professor Nili Cohen (photo: Amos Ben Gershom, GPO)
 
At the ceremony, President Herzog announced the adoption of the initiative proposed by the Academy’s new President, Professor Harel, for the Israel Academy and the President’s Residence to collaborate in launching a series of encounters on “Scholarship and Science,” which will host participants from all over Israel, including young people, for scientific discussion. Professor Harel invited President Herzog to visit the Academy building, which is next to the President’s Residence, for a tour of its recently opened exhibition on the Academy’s history and activities, “A Gathering Place of Scholars: Sixty Years of Science and Knowledge.”
 
President Herzog stressed two major challenges facing the Academy: dealing with the climate crisis and transmitting science to the public. “Do everything you can to make the Academy and science accessible to the public at large,” he said. “I am your full partner in both these missions, both via the President’s Climate Forum, which I established recently, and by adopting the initiative that you, Professor Harel, and members of the Academy recently presented to me.”
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