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Nobel Winner Regrets Call to Free All Terrorists

Israeli Nobel Prize Winner Ada Yonath regrets speaking in favor of releasing all terrorist prisoners.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 11/5/2009, 9:53 PM / Last Update: 11/6/2009, 8:55 AM

Israeli Nobel Prize Winner Ada Yonath expressed regret this week for speaking in favor of releasing all terrorist prisoners from Israel's jails. Yonath told the Hebrew-language weekly Lady Globes, “I learned my lesson – when it comes to subjects that I don't understand very well, or don't understand how to express myself well regarding them, I should leave it to others [to discuss].”

“I was burned. I promised myself and my loved ones that in the future I would not get involved in subjects outside my area of expertise,” she added.

Shortly after receiving the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in October of this year, Yonath was interviewed on Army Radio (Galei Tzahal) and said that Israeli should release all terrorists currently in its prisons. Releasing terrorists would give Arabs “the possibility of hope,” she argued, adding, “I think that when a young man or woman sits in our jails for years, his or her family gets angry and we create additional terrorists.”

Her remarks were met with widespread criticism. At the time, Yonath's colleague Professor Elisha Haas told Arutz Sheva's Hebrew service that Yonath “is a wise woman... I fear that someone made her say things she did not mean to say.”

Yonath told Lady Globes that she had indeed been misunderstood. “From my perspective, everything was taken out of context,” she said. “I have a lot of criticism for the media.”

Regarding her decision to avoid publicly debating her political views, Yonath said, “I'll tell you what a wise Egyptian politician I met on a flight to Washington told me, 'We're lucky to have scientists. We politicians worry about survival, you look at the real world.'”