This is a letter that Dr. Daniel Amit, an Israeli Physicst at the University of Rome, sent to Dr. Martin Blume of Physical Review, regarding Dr. Amit's reasons for refusing to participate as a reviewer for papers that the review publishes. the Review is the premier journal of physics research. While Dr. Blume tried to persuade Dr. Amit that science was "an international enterprise and we do our best to put aside political disagreements in the interest of furthering the pursuit of scientific matters", Dr. Amit was not convinced. The following is his letter explaining his reasons why he was not convinced. He has encouraged spreading his position widely.
Thank you Dr. Amit for your honor and dignity. Your 'minor role and statement' is very profound indeed and a wonderful inspiration.
Dear Dr Blume, Editor in Chief
American Physical Society
Thank you for you letter of April 8. I would have liked to be able to share the honorable sentiments you express in your letter as well as your optimism in the future role of science and the scientific community. To be frank, and with much sadness and pain, after 40 years of activity and collaboration, I find very little reason for such optimism.
What we are watching today, I believe, is a culmination of 10-15 years of mounting barbarism of the American culture the world over, crowned by the achievements of science and technology as a major weapon of mass destruction. We are witnessing man hunt and wanton killing of the type and scale not seen since the raids on American Indian populations, by a superior technological power of inferior culture and values. We see no corrective force to restore the insanity, the self-righteousness and the lack of respect for human life (civilian and military) of another race.
Science cannot stay neutral, especially after it has been so cynically used in the hands of the inspectors to disarm a country and prepare it for decimation by laser guided cluster bombs. No, science of the American variety has no recourse. I, personally, cannot see myself anymore sharing a common human community with American science. Unfortunately, I also belong to a culture of a similar spiritual deviation (Israel), and which seems to be equally incorrigible.
In desperation I cannot but turn my attention to other tragic periods in which major societies, some with claims to fundamental contributions to culture and science, have deviated so far as to be relegated to ostracism and quarantine. At this point I think American society should be considered in this category. I have no illusions of power, as to the scope and prospect of my attitude. But, the minor role of my act and statement is a simple way of affirming that in the face of a growing enormity which I consider intolerable, I will exercise my own tiny act of disobedience to be able to look straight into the eyes of my grandchildren and my students and say that I did know.