Israel’s purchase of a stake in a South African telescope is expected to increase scientific cooperation between the two countries.
Israel plans to purchase an 8 percent share in the $55 million telescope, called the Southern African Large Telescope project, located at Sutherland in the Karoo region.
â€œWe need a part in it, as we donâ€™t have the large telescopes needed for good astronomy in Israel,â€ explained Professor Hagai Netzer, an astronomer from Tel Aviv University, at a meeting of the Western Province Zionist Council of the South African Zionist Federation in Johannesburg. â€œOne of the few we can join is in South Africa, as Israel is not very well liked in Europe these days.â€
Due to the high cost of installing the telescope, South Africa held approximately 35 percent of the shares and had called for partners to â€œsolve the financial issue,â€ Netzer said.
â€œWe must come up with $4.4 million to be incorporated,” he said. “If we do, thereâ€™s a very good chance that we will be, but we have to do it fast.â€
Netzer did not believe that local â€œantagonismâ€ toward Israel would hamper his efforts.
â€œVery fortunately weâ€™re dealing with scientists, who speak to the point,” he said. “Weâ€™re very popular in that community because we do good science.”
Describing the project as one of â€œtremendous significance for both Israel and South Africa and the relationship between the two countries,â€ Jonathan Silke, president of the South African Zionist Federation, expressed the wish for â€œa successful outcome to the negotiations that would lead to further scientific cooperation with South Africa.â€
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.