Galant: Professor who supported BDS won't receive Israel Prize

Education Minister rejects committee's recommendation, says Israel Prize in Computer Science will not be awarded to Professor Oded Goldreich.

Elad Benari, Canada ,

Yoav Galant
Yoav Galant
Flash 90

Outgoing Education Minister Yoav Galant announced on Friday that the Israel Prize in Computer Science will not be awarded to Professor Oded Goldreich of the Weizmann Institute of Science, due to what he called "his continued activity that seeks, with deliberate intent, to harm Israeli academia and the State of Israel."

In his decision, Galant rejected the recommendation of the Israel Prize Selection Committee to award the prize to Prof. Goldreich for his work on the subject of computational complexity.

In March, Galant demanded that the Selection Committee rescind its decision to award Goldreich with the prestigious prize due to his support for BDS, which Goldreich subsequently denied.

Galant cited a 2019 open letter signed by 240 Israeli and Jewish academics – including Goldreich – that called on the German government to reject its historic resolution equating BDS with anti-Semitism.

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.”

Eight days after Goldreich denied his support for the BDS, he signed a petition advocating the boycott of Israeli academic institutions in Judea and Samaria, notably Ariel University.

Following the revelations, Galant asked the committee members to reconsider their recommendation of Goldreich. On Friday, Galant made the final decision on the matter, rejecting the committee's recommendation.

"This is a prize of the State of Israel for those who have contributed to the State of Israel," he wrote. "The State of Israel should not be turned into a mere rubber stamp on the recommendation of academics on the question of who is the most prominent researcher among the candidates for a prize in a particular field."

"From the factual infrastructure that was before me at the time of the decision, a clear picture emerges of Prof. Goldreich's ongoing, consistent and deliberate activity that results in real harm to Israeli academia and the State of Israel," said Galant.

"In light of all of the above, I have decided to reject the professional recommendation of the Israel Prize Selection Committee for Computer Science Research to award the Israel Prize for Computer Science Research to Prof. Goldreich," Galant continued. "I regret the fact that the committee chose, for its own reasons, to try to force its recommendation on me in an unprecedented way."

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