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In anti-BDS Move, Italy Bringing Huge Academic Delegation to Israel

Dozens of researchers and academics from the two countries will meet in 'unprecedented' response to campaign to boycott Israeli universities.

In a move that Italian officials say aims to counter calls for boycotts and sanctions against Israel, Italian researchers and academics will be meeting with their counterparts in Israel this week for a series of joint conferences and other cooperative events.
A series of 10 simultaneous conferences will be held across Israel between Tuesday and Friday. Dozens of researchers will be sharing the latest discoveries in fields ranging from robotics to plastic surgery.
“It’s an unprecedented effort to respond concretely on a very delicate issue,” Francesco Talo, the Italian ambassador to Israel, told Haaretz. “We believe that research and universities should be free and open to dialogue and exchange.”
While the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement in Italy has been less successful than elsewhere in the West, it has been pushing for local universities to cut ties with Israeli institutions.
Earlier this year, some 300 Italian academics signed a petition calling on Italian universities to cancel cooperation agreements with Haifa’s Technion and other Israeli universities.
“We thought that the best answer would be action: to concretely do exactly the opposite of what some people ask us to do and bring a significant number of Italian researchers and academics to Israel,” Talo told Haaretz in a telephone interview on Sunday. “Everybody is free to say what they want, but we will respond with actions.”
Rome has frequently voiced its opposition to the BDS campaign. During a visit to Israel last year, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said in a speech to the Knesset that whoever boycotts Israel “is boycotting himself” and “betraying his own future.”
New treatments for heart disease
The delegation to Israel will be the largest ever brought by Italy, including more than 60 researchers, as well as representatives of the Italian Conference of Rectors, which gathers the leaders of major Italian universities. The group will be led by Education and Science Minister Stefania Giannini.
The conferences will focus on different topics in the sciences and the humanities, including new treatments for heart disease; the use of robotics to help elderly and disabled people; the latest advances in plastic surgery; research into cures for rare diseases; bioethics, psychology and economics.
The conferences, most of which will be held in Tel Aviv, are free and open to the public, although some require registration.
On Thursday morning the entire delegation will gather at the Peres Center for Peace in Tel Aviv, where three cooperation agreements in the fields of material sciences and biophysics between Italian and Israeli universities will be signed.
The events are meant to coincide with Italy’s national day, which falls on Thursday and will be marked with other celebrations, including the presentation in Israel of the recent Italian translation of the Talmud and a festival of Italian folk dancing in Tel Aviv.

Ariel David
Haaretz Contributor

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.722160Schermata 2016 05 30 alle 09.53.38

Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police




The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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