NE'EMAN, YUVAL

NE'EMAN, YUVAL (1925–2006), Israeli physicist, defense expert, engineer, and political activist. Born in Tel Aviv, he graduated from high school at the age of 15 and studied at the Technion (1941–45), graduating in mechanical engineering and applying it at the family's pump factory. He had joined the Haganah in 1940 and fought in 1948 defending the Jerusalem road, then on the Egyptian Front (Givati Brigade operations officer), staying on in the IDF until 1960. On the General Staff, serving as director of planning (1952–55), he is credited with the elaboration of the IDF's fundamental strategic and organizational doctrine, followed until after the Six-Day War. From 1955 to 1957 he served as deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Division (with the rank of colonel), where he contributed to the introduction of advanced information technologies and was, in addition, responsible for the operational secret link with France at the time of the Sinai Campaign. In 1958 he was appointed defense attaché to the UK and the Scandinavian countries. At that time he embarked upon a new career, studying physics at London's Imperial College under Nobel laureate A. Salam. Since J.J. Thomson's discovery of the electron in 1897 and E. Rutherford's discovery of the proton (1911), nearly 100 particles had been discovered, forming a confusing jumble for which Ne'eman proposed in 1960–61 a classification scheme based on a mathematical symmetry (the "SU(3)-octet" model, popularly known as the "Eightfold Way") which was experimentally confirmed in 1964. The same scheme was suggested simultaneously and independently by M. Gell-Mann and is often regarded as an analog of D. Mendeleev's Periodic Chart of the chemical elements or C.V. Linne's classification of the living and plant species. In 1962, Ne'eman also conceived the sub-structure that would create such an order, an idea further developed by M. Gell-Mann and independently by G. Zweig , now known as the "quark model." During 1961–63, Ne'eman served as scientific director of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission's Soreq Research Establishment. Appointed professor of physics, he founded the Department of Physics and Astronomy of Tel Aviv University and chaired it from 1965 to 1972. In mathematical physics, from 1974 to 1979, he made important contributions to the new areas of Lie "superalgebras" and to "supergeometry" and "superconnections," including new physical predictions which will be experimentally tested at CERN in Geneva when the construction of a new accelerator will be completed in 2007. He also developed with A. Kantorovich a new approach to evolutionary epistemology. Ne'eman introduced astronomy in Israel with the inauguration of the Wise Observatory (40" telescope) in the Negev in 1971. At Tel Aviv University he also created the School of Engineering and the Jaffe Institute for Strategic Studies and was elected to succeed George Wise as Tel Aviv University president in 1971. He resigned in 1975, joining the Ministry of Defense as senior advisor to the minister, having served in the same capacity on a part-time basis in 1972 and 1974. At Tel Aviv University he was also director of the Mortimer and Raymond Institute of Advanced Studies from 1979 to 1997. In the Defense Ministry, he resigned as senior advisor in protest over the surrender of the Sinai (Abu Rudeis) oilfields in the Interim Agreement with Egypt, having advocated since the Six-Day War the annexation of Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights, and parts of Sinai in order to establish secure borders, calling for a massive Jewish settlement in the occupied areas and supporting the Gush Emunim settlement movement. He also served as president of the Israel Bureau of Standards (1972–76) and chief defense scientist (1975–76), chairman of the National Research Council (1982–84), and president of the Israel Association of Engineers, Architects and Academics in the Technological Disciplines (1997–2002). In the political arena, in the beginning of 1979, around the time when MKS Ge'ula Cohen and moshe shamir left the Likud and established an independent parliamentary group against the background of the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty, Ne'eman called for all the opponents of the agreement with Egypt to join forces. In October the Teḥiyyah party was formed, and he became its chairman. He was elected to the Tenth Knesset in 1981 on the Teḥiyyah list and served as minister of science and development from 1981 to 1984, simultaneously serving as deputy chairman of the joint Settlement Committee of the government and the World Zionist Organization. In 1983 he founded the Israel Space Agency, chairing it into the 21st century. He was reelected to the Eleventh and   Twelfth Knesset, but in January 1990 resigned from the Knesset to enable the next in line on the Teḥiyyah list – Eliakim Haetzni – to enter the Knesset in his place. In the government formed by yitzhak shamir in June 1990, after the fall of the National Unity Government, Ne'eman was appointed minister of Energy and Infrastructure, without being a member of the Knesset. In this capacity he was the first Israeli minister to meet Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, not long before the collapse of the Soviet Union. He resigned from the government in February 1992, against the background of the Madrid Conference and the Washington talks. Following the failure of Teḥiyyah to enter the Thirteenth Knesset, and Cohen's decision to rejoin the Likud, Ne'eman left active political life, and returned to Tel Aviv University. During these years he was also in the forefront of the struggle to get Jewish scientists out of the Soviet Union. Altogether, he published some 400 research articles and some 20 books in the physics of particles and fields, cosmology, and the history and philosophy of science. Ne'eman received the Israel Prize in 1969 and the EMET Prize in 2003 as well as the Albert Einstein Medal in 1969 and other international awards.

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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