A London university don has turned down her share of Israel’s prestigious $1 million Dan David Prize for political reasons, to the cheer of boycotters.
Historian Professor Catherine Hall of University College London (UCL) said she declined an estimated £250,000 which was to be awarded to her for her work.
She told the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP) that it 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”.
Awarded annually, the prize was set up with a $100 million endowment by Bucharest-born Israeli businessman Dan David, with awards in three categories, to those whose work covered the Past, Present or Future.
Prof. Hall, a distinguished feminist historian, was due to receive the Past award for her “impact on social history, as a pioneer in gender history, race and slavery,” with particular reference to her work on women’s history in the 1970s.
In a statement, BRICUP said Hall’s decision was “a significant endorsement of the campaign to end ties with Israeli institutions” and that she had “placed principle above financial gain”.
The unclaimed prize money, which is awarded by Tel Aviv University and the Dan David Foundation, will instead be used to fund scholarships for young history students in Tel Aviv University and around the world.
Hall’s snub is the latest embarrassment for Israeli prize-givers. Last week Hebrew University’s Professor David Shulman gave his $20,000 award money for the Israel Prize to Ta’ayush, an Israeli non-governmental organisation working with Palestinians in the West Bank.