The Kishon affair: Science, law, and the politics of causation

Tal Golan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Argument This article describes how science and law were called upon (and failed) to resolve a controversy that created a painful rift between the Israeli State and some of its elite soldiers. The controversy, which came to be known as "the Kishon affair," erupted in 2000, when veterans of an elite and secretive unit in the Israeli navy claimed that pollution in the Kishon River where they had trained and dived during their military service had been the cause of a rash of cancers. The veterans demanded that the Ministry of Defense take responsibility for their illnesses, finance their medical treatment, and support their families if they die. The military denied the causal connection between the polluted river and the veterans cancers and rejected their demands. The dispute quickly escalated into a bitter public controversy, and a high-rank commission comprised of one of Israel's top jurists and two prominent scientists was called upon to study the disputed causal relation and reveal its true nature. However, after nearly three years of intense inquiry the jurist and the scientists reached opposing conclusions: the jurist found a causal connection while the scientists rejected it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-569
Number of pages35
JournalScience in Context
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • History and Philosophy of Science


Dive into the research topics of 'The Kishon affair: Science, law, and the politics of causation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this