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Gallant finalizes decision to revoke Israel Prize from math professor

CM 12/08/2021

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Outgoing Education Minister Yoav Gallant told Attorney-general Avichai Mandelblit on Friday evening that he has finalized his decision to deny the 2021 Israel Prize in mathematics and computer sciences from Weizmann Institute mathematics professor Oded Goldreich.
The Israel Prize committee filed an appeal to the High Court about Gallant’s ruling, leading Mandelblit to decide whether to defend Gallant’s decision or not.
The initial decision to deny Prof. Goldreich the award came after right-wing group Im Tirzu published a report which found Goldreich’s signature on a petition in which he and 522 others called to boycott academic institutions in Judea and Samaria, the most notable of which is the University of Ariel.
The report also focused on a 2019 letter that he signed along with 240 Israeli and Jewish academics, calling on the German government to reject a resolution which equates the BDS movement with antisemitism. 

The letter also urged Germany to continue funding organizations, including pro-BDS NGOs, that “peacefully challenge the Israeli occupation” and “expose severe violations of international law.”
“Prof. Goldreich does not currently meet the conditions for contributing to the State of Israel, as his contribution to the state through his research is offset by his vigorous activity to boycott Israeli research institutions – an activity that is constantly and deliberately done and continues to cause real harm to Israeli academia,” Gallant wrote to Mandelblit on Friday.
He addressed Goldreich’s stance on Ariel University, saying that “Ariel University is not a political institution: its activities are not aimed at achieving a political goal but at advancing research and science,” and that “its geographical location does not exclude it or delegitimate it from the ranks of academic institutions in Israel.”
“Anyone who calls for the boycott of Ariel and even works on the issue does not take a political position, but acts deliberately and consciously to weaken Israeli academia,” Gallant added.
Attorney Michael Sfarad, who represents Prof. Goldreich, responded to the decision, saying that “just before what appears to be the end of his term, Gallant is trying to grab a few more headlines at Prof. Goldreich’s expense, and on the way again forgets that the Israel Prize is not the ‘Israeli Government Prize. His letter expresses his McCarthyist approach and by doing so, solidifies his anti-democratic legacy.”
Attorney Gilad Barnea, who represents the members of the Israel Prize committee, said the decision was “made without authority by a minister whose tenure is about to end. The decision does not respect the Israel Prize project, and we are confident that the incoming Education Minister will make a different decision.”

Source: Jerusalem Post

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