Jerusalem: Can Our Ancient Collaborations in Science Be Revived?

07/17/2013 03:02 pm 15:02:36 | Updated Sep 16, 2013

For the first time in the history of Jerusalem, a non-Jewish Iranian of Persian heritage was invited to present a scientific topic in two parts, part A in East Jerusalem, at the Palestinian University of Al Quds and part B in West Jerusalem, at the Jewish University of Hebrew-Hadassah, to be attended by both sides of the security wall. The two universities organized the meeting.

On July 10, I gave the first part of my presentation at 11:30 AM at the Al Quds University, then drove with the Jewish and Palestinian students and faculty through the separation wall and presented the second part at 3:30 PM at the Hebrew University. At each university, I finished my talk with a gift of love from the land of spring, Iran: at the Al Quds University, a poem from Rumi (1207-1273) and at the Hebrew University, a poem from Hafez (1325-1390).

"Can our Ancient Collaborations in Science be revived?"

After searching in history, visiting libraries and travelling, still I can not find a single dark page in the 4000 year-old Judeo-Persian history. Indeed, the Judeo-Persian history is deep and beautiful. Hundreds of thousands of Iranians of Jewish heritage live in Iran. After 2500 years, Esther's graceful place of rest remains intact. Esther, a Jewish Queen of the Persians, is buried in Hamadan, Iran. After 2600 years, Daniel the Prophet's magnificent burial-place also remains intact. Daniel is buried in Susa, Iran. Over centuries, thousands of Persians, Jewish and non-Jewish alike have given their lives to protect the tombs of Esther and Daniel against their enemies. Persians pay homage to them regularly.

Even though Iran and Israel have never shared a common geographic frontier, over the last 4000 years, scientists and researchers of both nations have repeatedly shown their willingness and commitment to interactive learning and collaboration. Today, in several scientific disciplines, the two nations have educated the brightest scientists of the world. Their collaboration is the most effective key to prosperity and peace.

Perhaps scientists should replace politicians in the Middle East talks. In scientific collaborations, the outcome is objectively measured and individuals' accountabilities are reported. Scientists, unlike politicians, are comfortable with outcome measurement and committed to accountability.