The annual open meeting of the General Assembly of The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, held each year during Hanukkah, took place this year on November 30, 2021. For the first time in the Academy’s history, the open meeting, at which the seven new members elected to the Academy delivered their inaugural lectures, was streamed live to hundreds of viewers on the Academy’s website and YouTube channel.
Academy President Professor David Harel
and Vice President Professor Margalit Finkelberg
welcomed the new members. Professor Harel remarked that the Academy had been enriched by the augmentation of eminent scholars, with whose help it would continue to develop its wide-ranging scientific activity in Israel in the coming years and further its national and international goals.
“There is a deep and disturbing dichotomy around science these days,” Professor Harel added. “On the one hand, we constantly hear of extraordinary accomplishments, bringing with them increasing reliance upon science and appreciation for its practitioners. On the other hand, the potential for malicious use of the exciting possibilities opening up in genetic engineering, in social media, or of information obtained by hacking into databases has raised alarm. We should be especially concerned about the increasing prevalence of worrisome phenomena like resistance and skepticism toward anything connected with scientific and intellectual progress, and its importance to finding solutions for the severe problems faced by humanity. We must fight against these things and showcase to the general public – and to decision-makers – the centrality of science to our lives and the enormous importance of its achievements. We must combat fake news and false beliefs about science and enhance in their place the influence of rational-scientific thought based on objective experiments, verified facts, and logic.”
Vice President Professor Finkelberg welcomed the new members of the Academy, saying: “We rejoice in your celebration and take pride in your scientific accomplishments. You have achieved this high status by right and not by sufferance. There is no doubt in my heart that you will integrate well into the life of the Academy and contribute greatly to its various activities.”
The new members of the Academy gave the following lectures:
Professor Muhammad Haj-Yahia
, School of Social Work, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem: “The Exposure of Young People in Israel to Violence in the Community: The Scope of the Problem and Its Psychological Implications”
Professor Yeshayahu Talmon
, Faculty of Chemical Engineering, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology: “Analysis of the Nanostructure of Complex Liquids Using Cryogenic-Temperature Electron Microscopy”
Professor Nira Liberman
, School of Psychological Sciences, Tel Aviv University: “The Trees and the Forest: On Psychological Distance and Abstraction”
“Jews, Indians, and Alexander the Great: The Characteristics of Intercultural Discourse”
Professor Sammy Smooha
, Department of Sociology, University of Haifa: “Arabs and Jews in a Jewish and Democratic State”
Professor Sarit Kraus
, Department of Computer Science, Bar-Ilan University: “Cooperation between Intelligent Computer Systems and Human Beings.”
The addition of these new members brings the number of the Academy’s members to 136.
L-R: Prof. Sarit Kraus, Prof. Muhammad Haj-Yahia, Prof. Yeshayahu Talmon, Prof. Nira Liberman, Academy Vice President Prof. Margalit Finkelberg, Prof. Yadin Dudai, Academy President Prof. David Harel, Prof. Sammy Smooha, Prof. Yinon Ben-Neriah, Prof. Maren Niehoff, Prof. Sergiu Hart, Prof. Aharon Maman