He was Minister of Science and Development in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Born in Tel Aviv during the Mandate era, he graduated from high school at the age of 15 and studied mechanical engineering at the Technion.
President of Tel Aviv University from 1971 to 1977. Received the Israel Prize in the field of exact sciences, which he returned in 1992 in protest at the awarding of the Israel Prize to Emile Habibi (Israeli Arab writer and politician member of the communist party). , the Albert Einstein Prize, the Wigner Medal, and the EMET Prize for Arts, Sciences and Culture.
At the age of 15, Ne’eman also joined the Haganah. During the 1948 Arab-Israeli war he served in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as deputy battalion commander, then as Tel Aviv operations officer and commander of the Givati Brigade.
Later (1952-1954) he served as Deputy Commander of the Operations Department of the General Staff, Commander of the IDF Planning Department. In this role, he helped organize the IDF into a reserve-based army, developed the mobilization system, and wrote the first draft of Israel’s defense doctrine.
Between 1958 and 1960, Ne’eman was an IDF attaché in Britain, where he also studied for a PhD in physics under the 1979 Nobel Prize winner in Physics, Abdus Salam, at Imperial College London. In 1961, he was demobilized from the IDF with the rank of colonel.
In 1981, Ne’eman became a founding member of the World Cultural Council.
Between 1998 and 2002, Ne’eman was the director of the Israel Association of Engineers.
One of his greatest achievements in physics was his discovery in 1961 of the classification of hadrons* through SU(3) flavor symmetry, now called the Eightfold Way, which was also independently proposed by Murray Gell-Mann. This SU(3) symmetry laid the foundations for the quark model**, proposed by Gell-Mann and George Zweig in 1964 (independently of each other).
* A hadron is a subatomic particle made up of quarks that stay together due to the strong nuclear interaction between them.
** In particle physics, quarks or quarks are the massive elementary fermions that strongly interact to form nuclear matter and certain types of particles called hadrons.
Ne’eman was founder and director of Tel Aviv University’s School of Physics and Astronomy from 1965 to 1972, president of Tel Aviv University from 1971 to 1977 (after George S. Wise and succeeded by Haim Ben-Shahar ) and director of his Sackler Institute for Advanced Study from 1979 to 1997. He was also co-director (with Sudarshan) of the Center for Particle Theory at the University of Texas, Austin from 1968 to 1990. He was a firm believer in the importance of space research and satellites for Israel’s economic future and security, thus founding the Israel Space Agency in 1983, which he chaired almost until his death. He also served with the Israel Atomic Energy Commission from 1965 to 1984 and held the position of scientific director at its Soreq facility. He was chief scientist at the Ministry of Defense from 1974 to 1976.
Awards and honors
• In 1969, Ne’eman received the Israel Prize in the field of exact sciences which he returned in 1992 in protest at the awarding of the Israel Prize to Emile Habibi (Israeli Arab writer and politician member of the communist party).
• In 1970, he received the Albert Einstein Prize for his unique contribution to the field of physics.
• In 1972, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.
• In 1984, he received the Wigner Medal, which is awarded every 2 years for “outstanding contributions to the understanding of physics through group theory”.
• In 2003 he received the EMET Award for Arts, Sciences and Culture for his pioneering contribution to the decipherment of the atomic nucleus and its components, and for his enormous scientific contribution to the development of subatomic physics in Israel.
He was also awarded the Medal of the College of France and the Officer’s Cross of the French Order of Merit (Paris, 1972), the Wigner Medal (Istanbul-Austin, 1982), the Birla Science Prize (Hyderabad, 1998) and additional and honorary awards. doctorates from universities in Europe and the USA.
In the late 1970s, Ne’eman founded Tehiya, a right-wing splinter of Likud, formed in opposition to Menachem Begin’s support for the Camp David talks that paved the way for peace with Egypt and the evacuation of Yamit. He was elected to the Knesset in the 1981 elections in which Tehiya won three seats. The party joined Begin’s coalition about a year after the election, and Ne’eman was appointed Minister of Science and Development, a post he later changed to Minister of Science and Technology.
He retained his seat in the 1984 elections, but Tehiya was not included in the grand coalition formed by the Alignment and Likud. After the 1988 elections, Tehiya was again excluded from the ruling coalition. Ne’eman resigned from the Knesset on January 31, 1990, and was succeeded by Gershon Shafat. However, Tehiya joined the government in June after the Alignment left, and he was named energy and infrastructure minister and science and technology minister despite not retaking his Knesset seat. He lost his ministerial position after the 1992 elections and did not return to politics.
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Yuval Ne’eman (1925 -2006) – Israeli theoretical physicist, military scientist and politician – Aurora