Nobel winner defends Israel's actions


NOBEL PRIZE-WINNING physicist Steven Weinberg told an Irish audience yesterday that Israel was the “most exposed salient” in a war between liberal democracies and Muslim theocracies.

Prof Weinberg, a strong supporter of Israel, said the conflict between Israel and Hamas was part of a wider conflict.

This included the Madrid, London and Mumbai bombings, the conflict between Shia and Sunni Muslims in Iraq and the Janjaweed in Sudan, all of which had nothing to do with Israel, he said.

“It is a war between secular liberal democracy as you find it in Israel, Ireland and the United States, and the militant theocratical-oriented Islam,” he told an audience at Trinity College Dublin last night which included the Green Party spokesman on finance, Senator Dan Boyle, and Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly.

Jewish-born Prof Weinberg won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1979. Though now an atheist, he is a supporter of the Jewish state and cancelled a trip to the UK recently because of a proposed boycott of Israeli academics.

Prof Weinberg said it was wrong to make an analogy between Hamas as the equivalent of Sinn Féin and the Israeli Defence Forces as the Black and Tans.

He defended Israel’s actions in Gaza, saying it had acted with “remarkable restraint” in its attempts not to target Palestinian civilians. Civilians were told by phone three hours before bombardments to leave the place that was being bombed and as a result most of those killed in the recent conflict were members of Hamas, he claimed.

“The killing of civilians is a byproduct of what Israel had to do to defend itself,” he said.

He cited a British officer who said of the recent actions: “Never in the history of conflict has an army shown such restraint.”

Prof Weinberg, who was interrupted several times by those opposing his views, said no country would have behaved differently had it been subject to the rocket attacks on civilians faced by Israel.