Israel is involved in a major international scientific endeavor, based in Jordan, together with other Middle Eastern countries, including Iran.
The governments of Israel, Jordan, Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, Cyprus, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority are cooperating so that by mid-2017, their scientists will be working together on SESAME, the first Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East, The Jerusalem Post reported.
As explained on the SESAME website, “a synchrotron light – or synchrotron radiation – source produces very intense pulses of light/X-rays, with wave lengths and intensities that allow detailed studies of objects ranging in size from human cells, through viruses down to atoms, with a precision that is not possible by other means.
Advanced sources of light (like lasers and synchrotrons) have therefore become prime factors in promoting scientific and technological progress, and in recent decades the extraordinary power of synchrotron light has had an immense impact in fields that include archaeology, biology, chemistry, environmental science, geology, medicine and physics.”
Located in Jordan, it will be the first synchrotron light source as well as the first major international scientific center in the region, aiming to facilitate international scientific research in the Middle Eastern region. Several leading countries maintain observer status in the organization.
Theoretical physicist Prof. Eliezer Rabinovici of the Hebrew University’s Racah Institute of Physics, vice-president of the SESAME council, told Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, the Post’s health and science editor, that “Israeli scientists in the field are quite good, but if it had been established here [in Israel], many scientists originating in countries that don’t have diplomatic relations with Israel would have not participated in the project. Egypt bid it, as did Turkey, Iran, Armenia and the Palestinian Authority.”
“Israeli scientists have special permission to go to work there by crossing the Allenby Bridge; it will take about 90 minutes to reach the Allan facility from Jerusalem,” he said. “Israeli scientists are treated like other researchers.”
“The story began over 20 years ago,” Rabinovici said.
In August, Israeli Minister of Science, Technology and Space (MOST) Danny Ben Yosef Dannon visited SESAME together with other high-ranking members of his Ministry, including Rabinovici. They toured the site, listened to presentations and held talks with Khaled Toukan, director of SESAME.
Due to sanctions against Iran, the Islamic Republic didn’t pay its annual membership fees of approximately $500,000 in recent years, Rabinovici said, “but it claims to recognize its debt.”
Israel’s Science, Technology and Space Ministry will pay its share, and the Council for Higher Education’s Plan and Budgeting Committee together with the Treasury have contributed an additional $5 million for the project’s infrastructure, according to the Post.