Israel is falling behind on realizing its scientific potential due to lack of resources and the absence of clear-cut policies, a report by the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities has determined. The unprecedented report, titled "The State of Science in Israel 2013," was presented to the Knesset's Science and Technology Committee and Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Peri on Wednesday.
"Israel is one of the most technologically advanced nations and Israel's scientific excellence and productiveness are among the highest in the world," the report said. Despite this, current state policies and those practiced by past governments have harmed scientific research and the scientific community "to the point of infringing on national interests," the report said.
According to Hayadan science website, the report's main recommendation is to increase government funding immediately for scientific research to 23 percent of Israel's overall research and development budget, as it is customary in other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development member-nations. The change, the report said, is "imperative for Israel's [scientific] future."
The report warned that unless the government's policies change, Israel will soon "reap the last fruits" of the investments made in joint research ventures worldwide.
"Reality mandates that the [state's] investment policies be changed" and the state "must do everything within its power to refrain from infringing on the funds allocated to academic research," the report said.
"In order to avoid risking Israel's [scientific] status in the world, the reality reflected by the academy's report must be rectified," academy President Professor Ruth Arnon noted in the report's brief.
"We are at a crossroads and we need to adopt a new national science policy, one that is responsible, current and is meant for the long run.
"Israel's scientific community has proved time and again that it has the ability to translate financial investment into major international breakthroughs. Today, Israel is not realizing its full potential. There is an urgent need to return to the comprehensive vision promoted by the founders of the state, who saw science as Israel's most promising investment, one that would guarantee the survival and prosperity of the country in the future."
The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, which is based in Jerusalem, was set up by law in 1961. It aims to foster and promote scientific research in Israel and worldwide, to advise the government on research projects of national importance, and to promote excellence in the fields of science and humanities. It comprises 111 of Israel's most distinguished scholars.