Scientists in Israel have announced a breakthrough in HIV research, a development that will leave Israel boycotters with their latest ethical dilemma. The team from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev say their finding will result in a “revolutionary diagnosis and the key to the clinical solution that will prevent infection with HIV and will destroy the deadly virus.”
i24News reports that Dr Ran Taube of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Genetics at the southern Israeli university said his team has discovered similarities between HIV (the virus that leads to AIDS) and leukemia. Conducted in collaboration with Dr. Uri Rubio of Soroka University Medical Center, the research aims both to stamp out AIDS and to slow the progress of a rare mixed-lineage leukemia mostly occurring in children.
Despite the fact AIDS is now classed as a chronic disease treated with anti-retroviral drugs, to date there has been no treatment proven to prevent the spread of the HIV virus. The number of HIV-infected individuals still rises every year, so if this team of research scientists from Israel has made the breakthrough that leads directly or indirectly to the development of a workable vaccine they have done the world a great service.
Unfortunately a certain group of scientists from outside Israel will not be collaborating in this effort to develop a vaccine that would rid the world of HIV.
Since 2004 the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) has called for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions on the grounds they are “deeply complicit” in the oppression of Palestinians. Those supporting the campaign, which include backers of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, believe in the “general overriding rule” that:
“…all Israeli academic institutions, unless proven otherwise, are subject to boycott because of their decades-old, deep and conscious complicity in maintaining the Israeli occupation and denial of basic Palestinian rights, whether through their silence, actual involvement in justifying, whitewashing or otherwise deliberately diverting attention from Israel’s violations of international law and human rights, or indeed through their direct collaboration with state agencies in the planning and implementation of projects that contravene international law and Palestinian rights. Accordingly, these institutions, all their activities, and all the activities they sponsor or support must be boycotted.”
Certain research and development activities violate this Palestinian academic boycott. According to the PACBI website, institutional cooperation agreements with Israeli universities or research institutes, such as those involved in the HIV breakthrough, are frowned upon. More specifically, agreements between international and Israeli academic institutions for “the conduct of joint research” are to be avoided.
We cannot rely on Israel boycotters to add their expertise to Dr Taube’s quest for the discovery of the HIV vaccine. Whether or not they will want to take advantage of the fruits of his labour if he does eventually find what he is looking for is another matter.