British Recognition for Israeli Innovation

January 11, 2013 2:46 am 0 comments

Raymond Gwek is a Professor of Glycobiology at Oxford University. Photo: Remi Mathis.

I am not a great fan of “awards”. Too many of them are given for the wrong reasons to the wrong people. But here is one I am delighted with. Here is the official citation:

“Professor of Glycobiology at Oxford University Professor Raymond Dwek has been honored with the CBE for services to UK/Israel scientific collaboration. One of the most distinguished biochemists in the UK, Professor Dwek has been a major force in furthering UK/Israel scientific collaboration for over a decade. A key element of his work is promoting peace through science. He has made significant medical advances, invested enormous time and effort in sharing the UK’s science excellence with the international community, all of which has brought many benefits for the UK and Oxford University.

Professor Dwek has excelled in science, education, teaching, business innovation for the commercialisation of research and outreach to the community. He is internationally recognised as the founder of glycobiology (the role of sugar in biological processes). He pioneered the field with the US company, Monsanto, who awarded him $50m for development. His research has led to significant changes in the clinical treatment for Gaucher’s disease and he has developed new technologies for antivirals for HIV and Hepatitis C. He co-chairs the UK-Israel Life Sciences Council to increase scientific collaboration. Together with Oxford University, he initiated collaborative work on water development and biotechnology with both Israelis and Palestinians. He has encouraged and inspired young biologists and promoted women in science. He has raised £60m for joint studentships with other countries and research successes have brought £100m to Oxford University, including two new buildings. He has maintained the UK’s position at the forefront of innovative international science.”

Raymond and I were both pupils at Carmel College. He was a year senior to me and head boy to my ordinary prefect. He was clever, a good sportsman, and a great organizer; he doesn’t need me to sing his praises as either an outstanding scientist or a committed Jew. His award is richly deserved. Incidentally, my brother David is also a CBE for his services to interfaith understanding and cooperation and that’s deserved too.

Non-Brits may well wonder what the fuss is about. The truth is the Old World loves what are deridingly called “gongs”. Whereas in the USA brilliance or achievements are usually recognized in a monetary fashion, in nearly bankrupt Europe they prefer medals, sashes, and decorative titles.

Orders of chivalry originally began in medieval times, linking power to religion. The monarchy awarded knighthoods and other titles to those who won battles and stole land and possessions for the crown. These titles were hereditary and qualified the highest ranks, the lords (who more often than not were the illegitimate offspring of amorous kings, favorites of queens, or simply private bankers), to sit in the House of Lords and have a say in the running of the country. There were different levels of appointments. The main orders were “the Most Honourable Order of the Bath” for senior military officers and government officials, “the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George” for diplomats, and later “the Royal Victorian Order” for those who had personally served the royal family ( and we won’t ask how). Offices of heralds, and experts in etiquette, and manuals explaining who got priority or how to address them proliferated, and it all became part of what people either loved or hated about aristocratic and “class” societies.

As Britain expanded into an empire, more and more people needed recognition. So King George V established “The Order of the British Empire” in 1917, with five classes in civil and military divisions. There were “Knights of the Most Excellent Order of the Grand Cross of the British Empire” (GBE), “Knights of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire” (KBE or DBE), “Commanders of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire” (CBE), “Officers of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire” (OBE), and down at the bottom, “Members of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire” (MBE).

Many Britons have declined such awards on the grounds that it is dated, reminiscent of a class society, and no longer relevant. Others object because most of the awards are pro forma for people who just sit out their jobs. Many are political, rewarding party members and supporters. And no doubt some out of pique! Nevertheless, I do feel less negative about the whole thing when people I know and admire get recognized.

In Raymond’s case, there are some other considerations that make it special. Notoriously, the Civil Service is biased against Israel. This explains why the Queen has never been allowed to visit Israel. So when an award is made for involvement in and support of work in Israel, particularly at a time when it is so excoriated by the mass of British society, this is quite remarkable. But I am also delighted that recognition is made of all the hard work and resources that Israel devotes to trying to help the Palestinians too. You wouldn’t know it from reading the media. Here you have a devoted Jew, a top British academic working with an Israeli University to improve the health and quality of life of all the inhabitants of the area, Jew and Palestinian. I think that deserves a whole lot more than a CBE, but it’s a start!

“Professor of Glycobiology at Oxford University Professor Raymond Dwek has been honored with the CBE for services to UK/Israel scientific collaboration. One of the most distinguished biochemists in the UK, Professor Dwek has been a major force in furthering UK/Israel scientific collaboration for over a decade. A key element of his work is promoting peace through science. He has made significant medical advances, invested enormous time and effort in sharing the UK’s science excellence with the international community, all of which has brought many benefits for the UK and Oxford University.

Professor Dwek has excelled in science, education, teaching, business innovation for the commercialisation of research and outreach to the community. He is internationally recognised as the founder of glycobiology (the role of sugar in biological processes). He pioneered the field with the US company, Monsanto, who awarded him $50m for development. His research has led to significant changes in the clinical treatment for Gaucher’s disease and he has developed new technologies for antivirals for HIV and Hepatitis C. He co-chairs the UK-Israel Life Sciences Council to increase scientific collaboration. Together with Oxford University, he initiated collaborative work on water development and biotechnology with both Israelis and Palestinians. He has encouraged and inspired young biologists and promoted women in science. He has raised £60m for joint studentships with other countries and research successes have brought £100m to Oxford University, including two new buildings. He has maintained the UK’s position at the forefront of innovative international science.”
Raymond and I were both pupils at Carmel College. He was a year senior to me and head boy to my ordinary prefect. He was clever, a good sportsman, and a great organizer; he doesn’t need me to sing his praises as either an outstanding scientist or a committed Jew. His award is richly deserved. Incidentally, my brother David is also a CBE for his services to interfaith understanding and cooperation and that’s deserved too.

Non-Brits may well wonder what the fuss is about. The truth is the Old World loves what are deridingly called “gongs”. Whereas in the USA brilliance or achievements are usually recognized in a monetary fashion, in nearly bankrupt Europe they prefer medals, sashes, and decorative titles.

Orders of chivalry originally began in medieval times, linking power to religion. The monarchy awarded knighthoods and other titles to those who won battles and stole land and possessions for the crown. These titles were hereditary and qualified the highest ranks, the lords (who more often than not were the illegitimate offspring of amorous kings, favorites of queens, or simply private bankers), to sit in the House of Lords and have a say in the running of the country. There were different levels of appointments. The main orders were “the Most Honourable Order of the Bath” for senior military officers and government officials, “the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George” for diplomats, and later “the Royal Victorian Order” for those who had personally served the royal family ( and we won’t ask how). Offices of heralds, and experts in etiquette, and manuals explaining who got priority or how to address them proliferated, and it all became part of what people either loved or hated about aristocratic and “class” societies.

As Britain expanded into an empire, more and more people needed recognition. So King George V established “The Order of the British Empire” in 1917, with five classes in civil and military divisions. There were “Knights of the Most Excellent Order of the Grand Cross of the British Empire” (GBE), “Knights of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire” (KBE or DBE), “Commanders of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire” (CBE), “Officers of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire” (OBE), and down at the bottom, “Members of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire” (MBE).

Many Britons have declined such awards on the grounds that it is dated, reminiscent of a class society, and no longer relevant. Others object because most of the awards are pro forma for people who just sit out their jobs. Many are political, rewarding party members and supporters. And no doubt some out of pique! Nevertheless, I do feel less negative about the whole thing when people I know and admire get recognized.

In Raymond’s case, there are some other considerations that make it special. Notoriously, the Civil Service is biased against Israel. This explains why the Queen has never been allowed to visit Israel. So when an award is made for involvement in and support of work in Israel, particularly at a time when it is so excoriated by the mass of British society, this is quite remarkable. But I am also delighted that recognition is made of all the hard work and resources that Israel devotes to trying to help the Palestinians too. You wouldn’t know it from reading the media. Here you have a devoted Jew, a top British academic working with an Israeli University to improve the health and quality of life of all the inhabitants of the area, Jew and Palestinian. I think that deserves a whole lot more than a CBE, but it’s a start!

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Blogs Sports Gold on the Galilee: Israeli Kayaker Comes of Age, Eyes Olympics (VIDEO)

    Gold on the Galilee: Israeli Kayaker Comes of Age, Eyes Olympics (VIDEO)

    JNS.org – Three years ago, kayaking coach Roei Lev found aspiring Olympian Ilya Podpolnyy crying on the steps of the Jordan Valley Sprint Kayak Club overlooking the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). Podpolnyy, then 17 years old, had just been disqualified from the Israeli kayaking championship. He couldn’t survive the heats. He didn’t make the start line. He was devastated—and he had no one with whom to share his hopes, his dreams, and his disappointment. His divorced parents still live in [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Lena Dunham Responds to Charges of Antisemitism: It was Just a Jew Joke

    Lena Dunham Responds to Charges of Antisemitism: It was Just a Jew Joke

    “Girls” creator Lena Dunham responded on Tuesday to charges of antisemitism over an article she had penned for the New Yorker, saying it was all in good humor. Speaking to Variety, Dunham reflected on her “tight-knit Jewish family, where Jew jokes were part of the essential fiber of our communication.” The article Dunham referred to was called “Dog or Jewish Boyfriend? A Quiz,” with options such as “He doesn’t Tip” and “He’s Crazy for Cream Cheese.” Among Dunham’s critics, Anti-Defamation [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Former NBA Star Tweets Article About Jewish Conspiracy to Control Global Media

    Former NBA Star Tweets Article About Jewish Conspiracy to Control Global Media

    Retired NBA player Keyon Dooling tweeted a link on Wednesday to a wildly antisemitic article that accuses Jews of seizing control of the world’s media and using it to promote their own interests. The article, published by an obscure blog in April 2013, highlights six companies it claims are owned by Jews — such as Time Warner, Inc. and the Walt Disney Company – that allegedly “control 96 percent of the world’s media.”  The post includes allegations of “Jewish control” and says [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Rosh Hashanah Won’t Keep the Giants’ Geoff Schwartz From Season Opener

    Rosh Hashanah Won’t Keep the Giants’ Geoff Schwartz From Season Opener

    New York Giants offensive guard Geoff Schwartz responded to an outcry from Jewish fans on Tuesday, saying he will go ahead and play in the season opener despite the fact that it falls on the first night of Rosh Hashanah. “Keep getting tweets about that being the first night of Rosh Hashanah… Don’t know what I’m supposed to tell you. It’s a tough break,” the Jewish athlete wrote, referring to the Giants’ on-the-road game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Sept. [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Jewish Coach David Blatt Has NBA’s Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

    Jewish Coach David Blatt Has NBA’s Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

    JNS.org – When David Blatt was hired as head coach of the National Basketball Association’s Cleveland Cavaliers last June, he was not often recognized when he walked the streets of downtown Cleveland. What a difference a year makes. Now, Blatt can go few places without being recognized. For good reason. The Jewish coach has the Cavaliers in the mix to win the city of Cleveland’s first championship in a major sport since the Browns won the National Football League title in [...]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Croatian Soccer Star’s Hebrew Tattoo Causes a Stir Online

    Croatian Soccer Star’s Hebrew Tattoo Causes a Stir Online

    A Hebrew tattoo sported by Croatian soccer star Mario Mandzukic became an internet sensation in Israel after it was exposed on Tuesday during a Champions League match between Ateltico Madrid and Real Madrid A first glance, the tattoo, on the athlete’s back, might leave one with the impression that it was an unfortunate artistic mistake, since the Hebrew letters do not make sense as they are written. However, a closer look at the tattoo shows that it was actually written [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater Why an Algemeiner Editor Wrote a Play About a Mass Shooter

    Why an Algemeiner Editor Wrote a Play About a Mass Shooter

    For the past two years, I have served as Opinion Editor at The Algemeiner. I’m perhaps most proud of the paper’s commitment to publishing diverse and opposing viewpoints on the controversial issues of the day. We pride ourselves on voicing different opinions because we know that most issues are not black and white, and because our community is better served by a public debate. In my life outside of the paper, I am a professional actor and playwright. And similarly, [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    JNS.org – “Risk: The Game of Strategic Conquest,” the classic Parker Brothers board game, requires imperial ambitions. Players imagine empires and are pitted against each other, vying for world domination. Amid this fictional world war, beginners learn fast that no matter the superiority of their army, every advance is a gamble determined by a roll of the dice. After a defeat, a player must retreat. Weighted reinforcement cards provide the only opportunity to reverse a player’s fortunes and resume the [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.