Prof. Yonath
Prof. YonathIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Professor Ada Yonath, who received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry last week, wasted no time in using her newly found fame to air her political views. In an interview Saturday on Army Radio station (Galei Tzahal) she opined that Israel should release all the terrorists incarcerated in its jails.

"We need to think of ways that people will not have motivation to go and kill and be killed,” Yonath said. “It is is not just a political matter. These people are people who usually do not have a horizon, they have no hope, they have no reason to want to live and therefore they do not care that others will not live, and at the same time maybe they will also go to heaven and receive some rewards. This does not happen to people who have options for life, who have a life in which they at least have the possibility of hope. We can change that.”

Yonath seemed to dispute the very term “terrorist” when she said that regardless of the question of releasing captive Sgt. Gilad Shalit, “anyone who sits in our jails who is not just a criminal but what we call a terrorist, with or without blood on his hands – and these definitions are also unclear to me – should not be sitting in our custody.” 

She added: “As for the argument that they will go back to crime, or what you call terror, I believe that there are enough [terrorists] without them. 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.”

Using terminology which is often heard in “gender studies” academic circles, Yonath drew a connection between her gender and her pacifist views. “As a person, as a woman, as a mother – but mainly as a person – it pains me that a sweet guy [like Shalit] is in jail for three years, or is a hostage, and I do not know if we see him returning and I do not understand why he is there.”