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British historian boycotts prestigious Israeli award

May 23, 2016 at 11:55 am

British historian Catherine Hall has turned down a prestigious Israeli award, citing political reasons.

Hall, a feminist historian and Professor of Modern British Social and Cultural History at University College London, had been awarded the $330,000 prize by the Dan David Foundation, and was supposed to be honoured at a ceremony at Tel Aviv University

Campaigners in the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement had appealed to Hall to refuse the prize, a joint initiative of the Dan David Foundation and Tel Aviv University, due to the latter’s complicity in Israeli occupation and colonialism.

Professor Richard Seaford, Emeritus Professor of Classics at Exeter University, welcomed the news. “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.”

Professor Hall said that she took the “political choice” to refuse the prize “after many discussions with those who are deeply involved with the politics of Israel-Palestine.”

Meanwhile, Israel’s Public Security and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan confirmed on Sunday that the British company G4S pulled out of Israel due to pressure from the BDS campaign.

Erdan, speaking in New York, said: “BDS was a factor in the decision of security company G4S to sell their operations in Israel. The company is now trying to convince everyone that BDS was not a factor. Don’t listen to them. Giving in to BDS was a mistake, both morally and financially. Companies that take such politically- motivated decisions must pay a price, and they will.”