Israel is home to no less than four Nobel Prize winners and has had marked success with European Research Council funding. In his Editorial in Angewandte Chemie, Ilan Marek, Technion−Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel, outlines the historic reasons for Israel’s success in chemistry, as well as its present and future.
The efforts of David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, Chaim Weizmann, the chemist and first President of the State of Israel, and after whom the Weizmann Institute of Science was named, and Ernst David Bergmann, who was a great influence on chemistry in Israel, shaped the chemical landscape in Israel in the first half of the 20th century. The establishment of the Technion in the 1920s and three other universities in the 1950s and 1960s meant that there was a large amount of chemistry faculty members.
However, these days not so many high school students are keen on studying science and many Israeli scientists find positions in the USA. Furthermore, more and more funding is given only to certain areas of national importance. Israel’s success in Nobel Prizes and obtaining research funding are causes for optimism, however, policies that motivate chemistry teaching in schools, encourage excellence in fundamental research, and attract foreign researchers will help maintain Israel’s position in world of chemistry.