Tel Aviv (Jun. 28)
Israel’s scientific community has expressed skepticism over the claim by Yaacov Meridor, a Herut candidate for the Knesset, that a group of privately financed Israeli scientists have achieved a stunning breakthrough in energy production. Meridor, a wealthy businessman and former comrade-in-arms of Premier Menachem Begin in the lrgun, was persuaded by Begin recently to return to political life. Some Israeli sources believe Begin is grooming him as a successor.
But Meridor insists that his announcement of the breakthrough at a luncheon meeting of the Commercial and Industrial Club here Friday was not an election “gimmick.” “I have to live even after the elections. Do you think I, at my age, would endanger my good name on something which will not hold up after the voting?” he asked reporters today.
According to Meridor, the breakthrough involves the production of energy by chemical reactions, a process long known in theory but never put to practical use at an economic cost. Meridor claimed that on Friday morning he saw a “chemical furnace” raise the termperature of water from 36 degrees Centigrade to 176 degrees in four minutes, sufficient, he said, to power a steam generator to produce electricity without the use of fossil fuels.
The Ministry of Energy reserved public comment but expressed reservations privately. Nevertheless, it promised to establish a committee of scientists to investigate Meridor’s claims. Israeli scientists indicated serious doubts that an unknown group in Israel working with relatively limited resources could have achieved a breakthrough that has eluded some of the world’s most eminent scientists working on the energy problem with far better facilities and almost unlimited funds.
Meridor refused to identify the scientists involved except to say one was an Orthodox Jew who was also a musician. He claimed the new process would revolutionize world energy production and “free mankind from having to kiss the Arabs’ sandals.”