Cowed by a heated dispute, the French Physical Society (SFP) announced last week that it will no longer sponsor an award named after the late Lebanese physicist Rammal Rammal. The medal honors talented physicists who foster scientific cooperation among Mediterranean countries. But SFP officers last month nullified a jury vote that had tapped Israeli physicist Daniel Amit for the 1998 prize. Their decision came after Lebanese officials and academics protested the selection, even though Amit is an outspoken critic of Israel's occupation of southern Lebanon (Science, 5 March, p. 1422).
On 31 March the SFP's executive board went further, voting to sever its ties to the medal altogether. Despite the "generous aim" of a prize it has sponsored since 1993, the SFP is "incapable of handling" the type of controversy that dogged last year's pick, the board stated. The medal's originator, French physicist Gérard Toulouse, says he's consulting with Rammal's family about how to continue the prize under new sponsorship. Toulouse says he would have preferred a more courageous stand from SFP leaders: "Any sensible member of the scientific community would have felt that the SFP [officers] should resign and the Rammal medal should stay."