News from BRICUP
Academics take the shine off Israelís tarnished prizes
Media release - 20 May 2016
For immediate release
- Professor Catherine Hall turns down the Dan David Prize
- Professor David Shulman donates his Israel Prize money to resistance group Ta’ayush
- Celebration of Israel’s intellectual status turns sour
It has been announced that Catherine Hall, one of the awardees this year of the generous Dan David Prize, has turned the offer down. Her name has been removed from the Dan David website, and she will not be at the ceremony at Tel Aviv University on May 22nd. Professor Hall is a celebrated British feminist historian, carrying out path breaking work on the colonial structures and legacies of British-Caribbean slave ownership.
Professor David Shulman of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem received the Israel Prize for Religious Studies on Thursday May 12th for his “breakthrough studies on the religion, literature, and culture of southern India“. He announced that he would donate his 75,000 shekel (£14,000) cash prize to Ta'ayush, an Israeli group that assists Palestinian residents of the South Hebron Hills. He released a video documenting the attacks on Palestinians by settlers and the IDF.
Professor Richard Seaford, Emeritus Professor of Classics at Exeter University, commented “The illegal colonisation and the repressive measures of the Israeli government have now irredeemably tarnished Israel’s ‘glittering prizes’. For academics outside Israel, boycott of all activities relating to the Israeli state and universities is rapidly becoming the default position.”
BRICUP supports the boycott of Israeli universities, and of academic events associated with the Israeli state. In 2013 Stephen Hawking withdrew from attending the Israeli ‘President’s Conference’. The Academic Commitment for Palestine http://www.commitment4p.com/ has now been signed by 700 British academics.
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NOTES FOR EDITORS
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1. The Dan David Prizes
Each year there are 3 Dan David Prizes worth $1 million in total. They are awarded to non-Israeli academics whose research is oriented towards the past, the present and the future. Each Prize is normally divided among two or three winners. The Prizes are presented at Tel Aviv University, frequently by the President of Israel. See http://www.dandavidprize.org/about/about-the-prize
2. Catherine Hall
Catherine Hall is Professor of Modern British Social and Cultural History at University College London. Her Dan David Prize was listed in the ‘Past’ category. The citation said that the award was based on her work’s “impact on social history, as a pioneer in gender history, race and slavery.” She currently holds major AHRC/ESRC funded projects on the structures and legacies of British-Caribbean slave ownership which are politically and academically ground-breaking.
Catherine Hall communicated the following to BRICUP:
‘My statement is that I have withdrawn from the prize – this was an independent political choice, undertaken after many discussions with those who are deeply involved with the politics of Israel-Palestine, but with differing views as to how best to act. ‘
See http://www.bricup.org.uk/documents/archive/bricupnewsletter99.pdf for more details.
4. Israel Prize
The Israel Prize is generally regarded as the Israeli state's highest honour. It is presented annually, on Israeli Independence Day (the day after Nakba Day, which is commemorated by Palestinians) in a state ceremony in Jerusalem, in the presence of the President, Prime Minister, Speaker of the Knesset and Supreme Court President.
The prize has often been wreathed in controversy – see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel_Prize
5. David Shulman
Professor David Shulman is Renee Lang Professor of Humanistic Studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The Israel Prize award cites his ground-breaking research on the religion, literature, and culture of southern India. It was presented on May 14th.
Professor Shulman is a long-standing member of Ta’ayush, an Israeli organisation working in partnership with Palestinians to help the residents of the South Hebron Hills resist repeated attempts by both settlers and the Israeli state to dislodge them. When the award was announced in February Professor Shulman said “I hesitated to accept this prize giving the deteriorating situation, which now includes persecution of Ta’ayush activists and other peace and human rights activists by the establishment and the far right, who seek to perpetuate the Occupation.”
Shulman’s donation of his prize money will help Ta’ayush pay for its primary expenses: legal fees for the activists who are constantly being arrested, the cases they build against the state, and the petrol needed to drive activists to the South Hebron Hills every week.