British historian rejects $1million Israeli prize

Prof Catherine Hall

A British historian has rejected a $1 million Israeli prize due to be awarded this week, saying her decision came after “many discussions” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Prof. Catherine Hall of University College London declined the Dan David Prize ahead of the Tel Aviv ceremony.

The British Committee for Universities of Palestine (BRICUP) posted on Facebook a comment by Hall in which she said that: “This was an independent political choice, undertaken after many discussions with those who are deeply involved with the politics of Israel-Palestine, but with differing views as to how best to act.”

Hall was due to receive the prize for her “impact on social history, as a pioneer in gender history, race and slavery. While active in the women’s liberation movement, her work focused on women’s history in the 1970s,” Haaretz said.

BRICUP, which supports a boycott of Israel, described Hall’s move as “a significant endorsement of the campaign to end ties with Israeli institutions,” adding that her renouncing of the $1 million prize was Hall “placing principle above financial gain.”

The pro-Palestinian group said that Hall’s stance was reinforced by a decision from Hebrew University professor David Shulman, who last week chose to donate the NIS 75,000 ($20,000) he won for the Israel Prize to Ta’ayush, an Israeli NGO that works with Palestinians in the West Bank. He was awarded the prize for his work on Indian languages and culture.

The Dan David Prizes have been awarded annually since 2001. Their founder, Dan David, died in 2011 – he was an Israel-based businessman and philanthropist who made his money initially from photo-booths, before diversifying.

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