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Weizmann Institute of Science

Weizmann Institute of Science | Hi-Tech Spooks


In the weird reality of the Middle East, things seldom are what they look. Time and again I have read about Israelís scientific capabilities in articles plagued with large amounts of irrelevant statistics. In the past, while making academic research on topics defined as pure science, I found myself taking a close look at a very impure transfer of Soviet military technology from a laboratory in Kazakhstan to Israel and discovered an overlooked aspect of Israelís scientific apparatus. Overlooked, but strategic in its importance, Israel's policy regarding technology transfers is intrinsically related to the story of the state and to at least two well known institutions: the Weizmann Institute of Science and the Negev Nuclear Research Center.

WIS Logo

WIS Logo

The Weizmann Institute of Science

Having graduated from the Weizmann Institute of Science and thus knowing it well, I find time and again misleading information regarding its installations. The institute was conceived by Dr. Chaim Weizmann, who would later become the first President of the State of Israel, in 1933. One year later, the Daniel Sieff Research Institute was established, and Dr. Weizmann got there a lab, alongside ten other full-time researchers in organic chemistry and biochemistry; even in those early days the research performed there was defined as multidisciplinary. The institute is located on Rehovotís western entry, southeast of Tel Aviv. It is probably one of the greenest spots in the country, though this purity doesnít extend to its activities.

Throughout WWII and the 1948 War, the institute scientists were deeply involved in the war efforts, under Dr. Weizmannís direction. By the time it was dedicated in 1949, the Weizmann Institute (which includes the Daniel Sieff Research Institute) had sixty labs in nine fields of research, including organic, inorganic and bio- chemistry, optics and electronics, bacteriology and biophysics, polymer and isotope research, and applied mathematics. Later, the Feinberg Graduate School was established in 1958, and its first PhD was conferred in 1964.

Nowadays, the institute is considered the leading scientific research facility of the country and one of the top 100 universities in the world. In the mid-nineties I graduated it, after having published various scientific articles, including one in the very prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the USA.

Secret Protocol

Meanwhile, the State of Israel was created, and in October 1956 signed the secret Protocol of SŤvres between the governments of Israel, France and the UK. The protocol was a plot to topple Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser, by invading and occupying parts of Egypt in response to Nasser's nationalization of the Suez Canal on July 26 of that year. The planning for and the agreements contained in the protocol began the Suez War on October 29, 1956.

On October 22, Prime Minister of Israel David Ben-Gurion, Director General of the Ministry of Defense Shimon Peres and Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces Moshe Dayan secretly travelled from Israel to SŤvres to meet the French Minister of Defence Maurice BourgŤs-Maunoury, Minister of Foreign Affairs Christian Pineau and Chief of Staff of the French Armed Forces General Maurice Challe, and British Foreign Secretary Selwyn Lloyd and his assistant Sir Patrick Dean.

After two days of negotiations a seven pointís agreement was signed by Ben-Gurion, Pineau and Dean. The protocol directly led to the Suez War, which is of no interest to this article, but also to a close cooperation between the French and Israeli administrations.

Negev Nuclear Research Center

About thirteen kilometers to the south-east of the city of Dimona is the Negev Nuclear Research Center, Israelís largest nuclear facility. Its construction began in 1958, with French assistance according to the abovementioned Protocol of SŤvres.

The contents of the facility are far less interesting than the political results of the secret protocol and how it had shaped Israeli research capabilities and policies. Letís skip the nukes and take a close look at the serious stuff.

Rehovot versus Dimona

The isotope research unit of the Weizmann Institute is where the first efforts of Israel to develop nuclear technologies took place, disguised as pure science research. Then the Negev Nuclear Research Center was created and with it a conflict: How should the research be performed? Where: Rehovot or Dimona? Who would get the prestige, resources and salaries? The solution of the problem was unexpected.

Back then, the Director General of the Ministry of Defense, Shimon Peres, took a decision that shaped the course of the countryís scientific efforts until now. Instead of developing the technologies from zero Ė as the Weizmann Institute proposed - he decided to appropriate as much as possible from other sources, letting the scientists just adapt the technologies to the specific needs defined by the Israeli Administration. He claimed the state was too small and poor to develop the whole range of technologies needed.

Both, Rehovot and Dimona were relegated to a lesser and much more sinister status. Scientific spooks. Since then, the Mossad and Israeli industries are occupied day and night in getting technologies from abroad, while the scientists in Dimona and Rehovot are busy adapting them. Of course, there is also some pure research performed in both, thatís how the basic training for the more important tasks is achieved.

On Three Techniques

I opened this article mentioning a technology brought from Kazakhstan in the nineties. Buying technologies is always possible, especially in the open market created by the collapse of the Soviet Union. In this case the Israelís Ministry of Defense funneled funds through an institute lab. Having been a research student at that lab, I looked fascinated at the process and then left the institute as fast as possible. That wasnít my idea of pure scientific research.

Many people around the world are aware of the State of Israel interests and tactics, and offer the technologies out of their own will. After I left the institute, I found myself being requested by Dow Chemical to transfer a classified military technology developed by them for the American Army to Israel. In the complex sequence of events that followed their approach, my Christianity was found out and put to test by the state. Soon afterwards, I found myself a refugee. These two types of transfer are described in The Cross of Bethlehem. In the book there is also a close look at another side of this reality: the Shin-Beth places full-time informants in all academic institutions. Learning how to avoid them is part of the self-training of any scientist growing up there.

But thatís not all. This immoral gate opened in the far past have created a very ugly reality. Just before the incident in Hainan Island, when the Chinese captured an American spy aircraft and got direct access to classified technologies, Israel sold to China AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) radar technologies acquired from the US. The US didnít agree to this deal (and this is the understatement of the new century), but this was the price Israel paid for the normalization of the relations between China and Israel.

How long would it take to the world to wake up to the ugly, immoral, violent and terrorist reality created by the State of Israel, and to decide to normalize the situation in the Middle East?

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