Pro-boycott academic to donate Israel Prize grant to anti-settlement groups

Prof. Oded Goldreich pledges to split NIS 75,000 prize between five human rights groups, says 'will do everything in my power to end the occupation'; education minister calls mathematician 'a provocateur' who's 'unworthy of the award'

Tamar Trabelsi-Hadad|
A controversial Israel Prize laureate pledged on Wednesday to donate the prize grant to a host of non-profit groups that oppose the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
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  • Prof. Oded Goldreich, a professor of computer science at the Weizmann Institute of Science who called to boycott an Israeli university in the West Bank, said that he will donate the NIS 75,000 prize to groups that oppose what he calls the Israeli "occupation" of the West Bank.
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    עודד גולדרייך מקבל את פרס ישראל במתמטיקה
    עודד גולדרייך מקבל את פרס ישראל במתמטיקה
    Prof. Oded Goldreich, left, receives the Israel Prize from Meretz MK Mossi Raz
    (Photo: Rafi Kotz)
    "I will continue to do everything in my power to end the occupation, and I will fight for real equality for all the people of the land, and for social justice," Goldreich said. "Therefore, I intend to split the sum of the grant between five organizations that are working with determination for these exact goals."
    Goldreich was nominated for last year’s Israel Prize, the country's highest honor, in mathematics and computer science by a panel of judges. But shortly after the nomination was announced, nationalist groups called for his disqualification, claiming he supported a Palestinian-led boycott movement against Israel.
    Goldreich had signed a petition calling for the boycott of Ariel University on the West Bank, to appeal to the German Parliament to call revoke a decision to call the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions (BDS) movement, anti-Semitic.
    Former education minister Yoav Galant decided to stip Goldreich of the prize, a ruling which drew accusations that the country’s leaders are trying to stifle critics.
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    יפעת שאשא ביטון
    יפעת שאשא ביטון
    Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton
    (Photo: GPO)
    The decision was upheld by both the High Court of Justice and Galant's successor Yifat Shasha-Biton before being ultimately overturned by the Supreme Court last month.
    The beneficiary organizations thanked the mathematician for his donation in a joint statement and lauded him for "attaching himself, his status, and achievements to the struggle for equality, justice, democracy, and human rights."
    Shasha-Biton called Goldreich a provocateur who is unworthy of the award.
    "The fact that Prof. Goldreich chose to donate the Israel Prize to organizations working against IDF soldiers — after calling for the boycott of Ariel University on the West Bank — who risk their lives for the people of Israel proves that he is nothing more than a provocateur who undermines an academic institution, and therefore he is unworthy of a state award," the education minister said. "The High Court's decision to award him was wrong, and I object to it."

    The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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