AUB Goes To Israel?

Remember that list that was published back in April which showed Lebanon as #5 in math and sciences education in the world and in the top 10 when it comes to its education as a whole? A lot can be said about that list. Inaccurate is one. Exaggerated is two. Taken out of context, however, might as well be the best description.

It’s a habit of ours, as Lebanese, to disregard the negatives in a study, regardless of its merits, and focus on whatever makes us happier about this country. Other data in that study showed that, when it comes to scientific research, Lebanon ranks so low that our contribution to the world of science is minimal at best. We are 129/144. Who’s first on that list? Well, Israel is. Call that list whatever you want, the discrepancy cannot be disregarded.

I recommend you check this great infographic that discusses the Lebanese academic situation at hand (link).

So how would you feel, as a Lebanese, when scientists working at one of your country’s leading institutions go to a symposium in the United States only to have their work attributed to Israel, not Lebanon? I’d be pretty furious. And that’s precisely what’s happening at the ASME/BATH 2013 Symposium on Fluid Power and Motion Control, which is taking place in Florida starting next week. You can check out the program of that event here.

If you go through the first few pages of that program, down to where they list what’s happening on Monday, October 7th, you’ll see that Lebanon has a slight contribution via the American University of Beirut. Not quite, though, because the following is what you see:

AUB, Israel.

A quick search to look into the people to whom the research to be presented is attributed revealed that Aly Elmasry was  a person who did some research at AUB that ended this past August (link). Going through the AUB student system reveals that Matthias Liermann is actually a professor at the American University of Beirut. His CV is also available on the AUB website though I assume it might be outdated (link).

Matthias Liermann, AUBAs such, it’s definitely clear that this work was purely done at a Lebanese institute. It’s clear that the listing of Israel next to AUB on that program is not to signal some under-the-table dealings that were just uncovered. It’s a mistake that no one has noticed in order to get it corrected.

It’s easy to dismiss this as irrelevant. And there are certainly bigger things taking place daily, Akkar and the Syrian refugees as examples, that ought to be discussed. But I find listing AUB as an Israeli university as a big deal. Why? Because the attribution of a country to a university presenting any form of research means that the country from which that university comes from is important. Because having the institution that gives out the most research in our country taken out of our country, even if on paper, is damaging. Because research carried out at AUB, however simple it might be, reflects on the capacities of a Lebanese institution. Taking out the Lebanese of that institution matters.

It may not matter much to the scientists attending that symposium. They’ll look at that program, see that an Israeli university is presenting and say: “figures, those Israelis do good science.” But the problem is that the research to be presented is not Israeli. Those researchers are not Israeli. The university from which that university is coming from not only isn’t Israeli but isn’t allowed to have dealings with Israel. And, quite honestly, how unaware do you have to be to list AUB as an Israeli university?

I’d be up in a fit if I were either Liermann or Elmasry. I hope they’re trying to fix this.


20 thoughts on “AUB Goes To Israel?

  1. I would assume that there’s educated people (with knowledge in geography) in the attendance of this conference, so in the end this might actually be beneficial to this talk (and therefore to their papers, AUB and Lebanon). After all, the best way to get people to make people read a (boring) brochure or program is usually to have (or put) some small mistakes in there and the pages they will pay the most attention to then are the ones where these mistakes are. 😉


  2. Hello Elie,
    Since you looked up our research and names, why did you not send us an email? I looked in my spam folder but I couldn’t find anything. How can you hope that we are trying to fix this as you say if you don’t tell us about it? Thanks to one of your “followers”, I know about it now.

    So I understand that you are furious as a Lebanese, that I go to a conference where our work is attributed to Beirut, Israel and not Beirut, Lebanon. I agree with Johann Q, that this will make up for a nice introduction and probably bring the attention all the more to Lebanon due to this mistake. I encourage you to think of constructive ways to channel your fury. I would think that having dropped Aly or myself a line, would have been such a thing.
    BTW, we are presenting research related to robotic surgery. If you are interested in the topic, let me know.
    Matthias Liermann


    • I can hope of getting it fixed by shedding light on it. If I hadn’t had this sent my way and I decided it was worth looking into, odds are you might have gone to that symposium with the mistake still there. Should I have emailed? Perhaps so. Why didn’t I? Frankly, I got busy with med-school related chores soon after publishing this. And quite frankly, I thought you’d be aware given that these programs are usually sent to the participants ahead of time.

      I daresay this blogpost wasn’t only about the issue of the research event in Florida, but also served to talk about the differences between research here and in Israel, as is evident by the lengthy introduction. To me, that is being constructive and shedding light on an issue that not many people really care about, outside of certain circles among the Lebanese populace.

      And yes, I am interested in your research, thank you.


    • Hello

      I will allow myself to jump into this debate and say a few words:

      Looking at the whole case and examining the threads, the program and other related material, one can only come down to the conclusion that this can’t be a simple mistake! and this is due to the following facts:

      1- When a paper/presentation/ article is sent to a publishing or an organizing committee of a congress there can be no doubt as to where it originated from. Several emails, memos and reviews will and should be conducted which leaves but little chance for error to the initiator’s institution/country.
      2- Assuming that the editor of the program doesn’t know where Beirut or the American University of Beirut is , He or she can do a simple search.Now the names of the authors should give also a hint, No?.But why did the editor choose Israel?why not Bosnia?Turkey?or any other country for that matter?
      3-In international meetings (& I know what I am talking about because that’s one of my core expertise) the program passes through a long process of amendments. A process that involves getting the agreement (of all the authors/presenters involved) on whatever is written (name of the research,names of the speakers, titles etc..)and this is because most of the times the program is prepared by event management agencies that are not directly related nor experienced in the very topic of the meeting

      I would conclude with a high margin of confidence that someone or anyone at any point must have read this before it’s been made available. And this someone has to include both authors or the least their assistant(s).

      It is specifically peculiar to read Dr. Liermann’s reply in the light of what I said.I can’t spot any type of annoyance nor discomfort regarding the main issue.Instead, the Professor decided to blame the student for not raising this up! Aren’t you, Professor, at all angry at such an abomination?
      I’m sorry Professor, but your response makes me even more uncomfortable and in a way I feel it reinforces my conclusion.

      Good Day

      Zeinoun Hallal


  3. What’s the connection with the ranking of Lebanon in that list? You truly sound mad furious of jealousy to be honest. Israel is responsible for major scientfic breakthroughs in the world, that’s no news. Hate-blinded eyes, recognise the real.


      • Elie Fares you sound so damn stupid… I am stopping to read your blog. I wanted to get informed about Lebanon cause that’s the country my ancestors are from but I am so tired to read anti Israel stuff almost in every post. Anyway, without this problem you are not that good after all ( stop using cynicism in such an automatic way, my humble advice ). Good continuation with your big words without real ideas. Keep feeding the sheeps of Lebanon like Zeinoun Hallal and so with your joke of a blog.


  4. Elie, try to find the funny side in this. I think it’s at least worth a small chuckle that Americans who supposedly run the world and are Israel’s biggest allies know so little about the Middle East that they don’t even know that Beirut is not in Israel. We live in a weird world…


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  6. Maybe you should shed some light on the reasons why Lebanon is so low down in the rank in academic research. Maybe you should shed some light on why a graduate student at AUB pays more than 10000$ a year, and still has no place to work, not even a small office with a PC. While in other countries (including occupied Palestine or the so called Israel), people who pay almost nothing for their education, get everything they need from a private office, to constant and full access to the Internet (no weird proxy issues), to everything that might come put and allow for an effective research. I mean a computer science graduate student working on low level programming and operating systems, needs to go through a looooooong list of ass kissing to be allowed root access to a Linux machine (and that might take weeks and confrontation with several extremely rude people), which turns out at the end a shitty machine.

    I mean if AUB’s administration does not even trust its own graduate students to give them access to its facilities, then how come you expect quality research. Although given the amount of money each student pays (whether graduate or other) it should be more enough to sponsor very high quality research. Give your researchers facilities to do research and then expect good quality research. And as long as AUB’s administration main focus is on financial gain (like the 4% or 6% increase in the credit price year!!!!), no quality research will ever come out of Lebanon, which is very sad given the amount of potential we have.

    Maybe an article focusing on the financial corruption at AUB could help.


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  9. Elie, I am a bit let down here. I would expect that you’ll compare how the two governments help students learn and research, but instead this piece reeks of jealousy.

    Normally you do so much better!



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