Oded Goldrich was nominated for this year’s Israel Prize in Mathematics and Computer Science by a panel of judges. But shortly after the nomination was announced, nationalist groups called for his exclusion, claiming that he supports the popular Palestinian-led international boycott movement against Israel.
Last month, Goldrich and hundreds of other academics signed a petition demanding the European Union stop funding Ariel University, located in the West Bank, saying it legitimizes Israeli settlements.
Upon learning of the controversy, Education Minister Yoav Gallant, a member of the ruling Likud party and a supporter of settlements, refused to sign the Goldrich Prize. Signature is usually a formality. The appointed judges then appealed to the Supreme Court, saying that Gallant had no power to block their selection.
In Thursday’s ruling, the court granted Gallant 30 days to reach a decision on awarding the award to Goldreich, effectively preventing him from receiving the honor at Sunday’s party. “It will be possible to do this at the Israel Prize ceremony that will be held next year or at an earlier date,” the court said, in the event that he received the award at the end.
The award’s mathematics and computer science committee said Thursday that it is horrified that the award has turned into a “political playing field, and that the award regulations have not been supported by the education minister.”
The court called for ensuring that Goldreich, a professor of computer science at Israel’s Weizmann Institute, receives the award. Goldrich said that he does not support the boycott movement against Israel but that he opposes its policy of building settlements on occupied lands.
Michael Sfard, Goldrich’s attorney, said Galant and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit “created a clear McCarthyist path to reject the Israel Prize for those with positions opposing occupation, expulsion, and apartheid, and thus prevented an entire political camp in Israel guilty of“ the same crime. ”
Israel occupied the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war and built dozens of settlements there in the decades that followed. Most of the international community considers it illegal under international law and an obstacle to the creation of a Palestinian state as part of a negotiated solution to the conflict.
It is the second scandal related to this year’s Israel Awards. Last month, Israel Lifetime Achievement Award winner Yehuda Michie Zahav relinquished that honor as a growing list of those accused of sexual assault allegations advanced.
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