Palestinians Urge Recipients To Reject Dan David Prize Over Its Complicity in Israeli Apartheid

The Dan David Foundation partners with government organizations actively involved in Israel’s gradual ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and fully enlisted in Israel’s crimes against Palestinians.

The following letter was sent to the 2022 recipients of Israel's Dan David Prize.

Dear Dr. Mirjam Brusius, Dr. Bart Elmore, Dr. Tyrone McKinley Freeman, Dr. Verena Krebs, Dr. Efthymia Nikita, Nana Oforiatta Ayim, Dr. Kristina Richardson, Natalia Romik, and Dr. Kimberly Welch,  

We are writing from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) following the news that you have been awarded Israel’s Dan David Prize. We urge you to reconsider accepting this prize, which is endowed by the Dan David Foundation and headquartered at Tel Aviv University, two institutions that are deeply complicit in Israel’s regime of military occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid. 

As you may know, after years of denunciations by Palestinian scholars, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, together with Israel’s most prominent human rights organization B’Tselem, recently concluded that Israel is committing the crime against humanity of apartheid against Palestinians.

What you might not have considered is how accepting the Dan David Prize would bolster Israel’s human rights and international law violations by legitimizing its violent apartheid rule over Palestinians.

The complicity of the very institutions administering the prize in Israeli apartheid makes accepting it even more problematic. Please allow us to illustrate some examples of this complicity below.

The Dan David Foundation counts among its partners the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority (NPA), both government organizations actively involved in Israel’s gradual ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

The IAA is headquartered in Israeli-occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem, in violation of international law. The IAA and the NPA, in partnership with the far-right Israeli settler organization Elad, oversee excavations in occupied Jerusalem as part of a planned Israeli archeological park that is forcing Palestinians from their homes.

The IAA carries out excavations throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), looting Palestinian cultural heritage and designating Palestinian land as off-limits to Palestinians. This IAA map showing an “Archaeological Survey of Israel” completely erases the OPT.

The IAA also houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were discovered in the Qumran caves in the Palestinian West Bank in 1947 and subsequently held in the Palestine Archaeological Museum in Jerusalem. Israel seized the scrolls in 1967 when it illegally occupied Jerusalem along with the rest of the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza.

The NPA appropriates and designates Palestinian land as national parks in order to force Palestinians off the land. The NPA operates numerous parks, including the Qumran National Park where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, and nature reserves across the occupied Palestinian territory, as this NPA map shows. Once again, the Occupied Palestinian Territory has been completely erased.

The Dan David Prize’s host, Tel Aviv University (TAU), is fully enlisted in Israel’s crimes against Palestinians.

TAU maintains partnerships with Israel’s largest weapons manufacturers and just recently announced a new joint “Air and Space Power Center” with the Israeli Air Force (IAF) aimed at ensuring the IAF status “as one of the leading forces in the world.” The IAF has carried out multiple aerial bombings of the besieged Palestinian population in Gaza, killing thousands of Palestinians, including hundreds of children.

TAU houses the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), which boasts of having developed the so-called “Dahiya Doctrine” of disproportionate force. Adopted by the Israeli military, the Dahiya Doctrine calls for “the destruction of the national [civilian] infrastructure, and intense suffering among the [civilian] population.”

TAU also regularly hosts recruitment events for the Shin Bet, Israel’s notorious domestic intelligence agency. Shin Bet has been condemned by the UN Committee Against Torture over its use of violent interrogation tactics on Palestinians.

International calls and actions, including by individuals, taken to isolate the apartheid regime in South Africa helped to dismantle it.

Now scholars are responding to the call from Palestinian civil society and taking action to dismantle Israeli apartheid. Last May, during Israel’s escalation of violence, nearly 24,000 academics and more than 350 academic departments, programs, unions and associations took a stand for Palestinian rights, demanding accountability for Israel’s crimes.

The work you have done to preserve and broaden our understanding of history deserves to be recognized. However, and we hope you will agree with us, accepting recognition from institutions so deeply complicit in the silencing and erasure of an entire population would do a disservice to your extraordinary achievements.

In 2016, historian Catherine Hall declined the Dan David Prize, following “discussions with those who are deeply involved with the politics of Israel-Palestine.”

It is our hope that you will do the same. 


Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)

PACBI is a founding member of the global, nonviolent, Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which enjoys a near consensus in Palestinian society. PACBI is endorsed by the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE), which represents more than 6,000 Palestinian university staff, as well as by a broad cross-section of Palestinian academics and academic associations.


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