London Science Museum attacked over alleged links to Gaza conflict
By Fay Schlesinger
One of Britain’s most prestigious public institutions came under fire from hundreds of academics over links to Israel, it has emerged.
London’s Science Museum was accused of promoting Israeli universities whose research has been linked to defence strategy and weapons in the invasion of Gaza.
More than 400 academics, a Nobel laureate and former Government Science Select Committee chair have called for the cancellation of workshops to promote Israeli scientific achievements to be hosted by the museum this week.
A petition organised by the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP) accused the Science Museum of ‘amazing and insensitive bad taste’.
Professor Jonathan Rosenhead, from the London School of Economics, is leading a planned protest outside the museum on Thursday.
He said: ‘We want to shame the museum into realising how utterly inappropriate the workshop is in the given climate.
‘It’s shocking and saddening that they appear to have forgotten that their function is one of educating and uplifting the public. The museum is selling its good name.’
Other signatories include Dr Ian Gibson MP, who chaired the House of Commons Science Select Committee, Steven Rose, from the Open University, historian Charles Jenck and Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire, Professor Rosenhead said.
About 40 professors have backed the petition, he added.
The Museum of Science and Industry, in Manchester, was also criticised for hosting the same workshop today. Both museums told the Independent they had rented their spaces to the Zionist Federation and were not sponsoring or co-hosting the events.
But Professor Rosenhead said this did not exonerate the museums. ‘If Robert Mugabe wanted to hire out these museums’ spaces for a corporate event, we know what they would say,’ he said.
He accused Tel Aviv’s University of receiving funding from the Israeli Ministry of Defence to ‘enhance Israel’s military edge’.
A statement from BRICUP added: ‘These universities are without exception complicit in the mechanisms and policies of the Israeli occupation, and in developing the military technology used in the massacre in Gaza.
‘Protests are rolling in from scientists and non-scientists alike.’
The Science Museum attracts more than 2.5 million visitors each year. Over a third are aged under 16.
A Science Museum spokesman told the Independent: ‘Having considered the issue very carefully, and while fully respecting the right for everyone to express their views, [we] believe that not to proceed with the event would mean taking a political stand, which would be wholly inappropriate.’