Academy member Nicolae Cajal advocates the recognition of scientist Nicolae Paulescu's merits
According to Rompres agency, Academy member Nicolae Cajal, president of the Federation of the Jewish Communities in Romania, believes that a dissociation is necessary between the contribution to combating diabetes and the anti-Semite private views of Romanian scientist Nicolae Paulescu, discoverer of the insulin.
Prof. Cajal expressed this opinion at the request of the Romanian Academy, who asked him for his point of view on the situation generated by the cancellation of the ceremony dedicated to the unveiling of Nicolae Paulescu's bust, during the International Diabetes Convention in Paris. The Convention's agenda also included the award of the "Nicolae Paulescu" International Prize. The extreme measure of revoking the ceremony was justified by the anti-Semite position expressed by the Romanian scientist during the 1920's.
The news bulletin issued by Rompres on Friday afternoon also presents the full-length version of the answer Academy member Nicolae Cajal gave the Academy:
"In judging Nicolae Paulescu's case, it is necessary to emphasize from the beginning that we are dealing with some particular issues. First of all, one cannot disregard the importance of the discovery of the insulin for the world history of the Romanian science. Personally, I believe that Nicolae Paulescu's merits are great, are special, and must be fully revealed. It is on account of these merits that I proposed him as member post-mortem of the Romanian Academy in 1990, when the General Assembly elected him through a secret vote. This background set, a dissociation is necessary between his scientific contributions to combating diabetes and his anti-Semite private views. Whether he is guilty or not is another issue and, consequently, we ought to judge it as such. I respect every one's personal options and I believe I am not entitled to associate a scientist's value with his or her conceptions, anti-Semite though they may be. These are distinct issues and should be considered as such. They cannot be mixed. I remember that my father, who was a student of Nicolae Paulescu, respected and admired him, although he knew he was an anti-Semite. When judging his remarkable value as a professor and a scientist, he did not care about his philosophical or ideological conception. I believe that each and every person is entitled to his or her own conceptions, whether I like them or not. Personally, I do not share these views - I couldn't -, and, in a way, this situation is quite dramatic for me. But this doesn't give me the right to deny Nicolae Paulescu's genuine scientific merits, his very special contribution to people's health. And I think that no one has this right."
From the "Adevarul" newspaper:
According to the "Le Monde" newspaper, Paris cancelled the ceremony dedicated to the unveiling of the bust of Nicolae Paulescu, the Romanian scientist who discovered insulin. The ceremony, which had been planned to take place at L'Hotel Dieu (Paris), was revoked on account of the anti-Semite past of Prof. Paulescu (1869-1931), whose pamphlets published in Romania during the 1920's bore titles such as "The Judeo-Masonic plot against the Romanian nation" or "The Jews and alcoholism". "Le Monde" adds that Nicolae Paulescu was one of the founders of the National League of the Christian Defense (1923), an anti-Semite party whose split, in 1927, gave birth to the Iron Guard.
The French newspaper also says that, after some procrastination, on August 21, the Romanian Embassy in Paris decided to cancel the ceremony, in agreement with Prof. Gerard Slama from L'Hotel Dieu. The latter participated to the unveiling of a bust of Paulescu in Bucharest and expressed his surprise regarding the past of the famous researcher in the field of the diabetes treatment. The newspaper states that the unveiling had promised to "repair an injustice", as it would have drawn out of oblivion the one who discovered insulin, and whose active cooperation with French researchers resulted into a Romanian patent, in 1922, entitled "The Pancreine and the process of its production". It would have repaired an injustice, says "Le Monde", because that discovery actually benefited Canadian Frederick Banting, who received the Nobel prize for medicine in 1923… (http://www.adevarulonline.ro)