To the Editors:

Over one thousand leading physicists from around the world have called on Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin to release imprisoned West Bank physicist Taysir Aruri. The signatories called on the Israeli government to stop proceedings against him and to listen to his message of moderation and peace.

Taysir Aruri, a lecturer at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank, has been detained by the Israeli authorities since August 1988, without formal charges or trial. He is currently subject to a military deportation order. Aruri was previously detained, without formal charges or trial, from 1974 to 1978. It is believed that appeals from members of the international physics community played a role in his release in January, 1978.

Many signatories of the petition have extensive scientific ties with Israel. Among the signatories are eighteen Nobel laureates and seventy members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. The full text of the petition follows; we think your readers will find it of interest.

Edward Witten
Freeman Dyson
Institute for Advanced Study
Princeton, NJ

Taysir Aruri, a physicist at Bir Zeit University in the occupied West Bank, is widely known and respected. Many know him as a man of peace.

In June, 1988, Aruri was one of the signatories of a symbolic “peace treaty” signed in Jerusalem by a group of prominent Palestinian and Israeli artists and intellectuals. [The text of the treaty ran in NYR of October 13, 1988.] The treaty recognizes “the right of the State of Israel to live in peace and security within its borders preceding June 5, 1967” together with a similar right of self-determination and freedom for Palestinians.

Two months later, in August, 1988, Aruri was detained by the Israeli authorities. He has been imprisoned since then and is now threatened with being deported from the occupied territories.

It is extremely disturbing that a man of Aruri’s longtime, well-known, and outspoken moderate views is considered by Israel to be a candidate for deportation. If anything, his current situation is even more disturbing than his four year imprisonment without charges or trial in the 1970s. For Taysir Aruri’s ideas are much closer to reality today. They have much wider support among Israelis and Palestinians.

We, the undersigned physicists, feel that we must speak out. We care about the liberty of physicists in the occupied Palestinian territories as well as in other countries. We call upon the government of Israel: Stop this policy. Free Taysir Aruri. Listen to his message.

This Issue

August 17, 1989