In 1976, a Weizmann Institute mathematician (together with a scientist at Columbia University) proved that every "automorphic form on GL(2) lifted to GL(3) via the symmetric square lifting". From a certain point of view, this result is rather technical. But from another, it is one of the first results predicted by the vast and beautiful collection of conjectures known as the "Langlands Program".
This program, which was laid out by R.P. Langlands in 1967, introduces the notion of an "automorphic representation of a reductive group G", a deep notion which excited and captured the attention of generations of mathematicians. First of all, it provided a spectacular background for several important themes in number theory, algebraic geometry, and representation theory - subjects that were previously studied completely separately. Secondly - and more significantly - Langlands laid the groundwork for a rich program of future research. He predicted that many objects, like representations of a Galois group as studied by Artin, and elliptic curves as studied by Weil, were really "automorphic representations of some GL(N)"; and he conjectured that "automorphic forms of GL(2) with a symmetric n-th power representation" - and even "automorphic representations of any reductive group G" - should be "automorphic representations of some GL(N)".
The result about GL(2) and GL(3) alluded to above made it possible for Langlands to later prove (using many other results) that certain representations of a Galois group were of "automorphic" GL(2) type. This type of result made it possible for Wiles in 1994 to establish Fermat's Last Theorem. (Wiles showed that Shimura-Taniyama's Conjecture held for elliptic curves, i.e., that Langlands's special vision for elliptic curves was true.)
From the 1990's until today, the number of mathematicians devoted to the Langlands Program has grown exponentially, especially in Israel. At the Weizmann Institute, we now have several mathematicians generalizing the tools used to attack Langlands Conjectures, principally, the algebraic geometry behind GL(N), the Arthur-Selberg trace formula, and the objects resembling general Rankin-Selberg zeta-integrals. Combined with the work of others in Israel, the recent Israeli contributions put this country at the forefront of the Langlands Program of the twenty-first century, along with the USA and France.