Prominent Feminist Historian Rejects Israeli Academic Award

Prof. Catherine Hall of University College London says she declined to accept the Dan David Prize 'after many discussions with those who are deeply involved with the politics of Israel-Palestine.'

Prof. Catherine Hall
Prof. Catherine Hall

Prominent cultural historian Prof. Catherine Hall of University College London declined to receive the prestigious Dan David Prize, which was due to be awarded on Sunday in a ceremony at Tel Aviv.

"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 said in a statement.

The British Committee for the Universities of Palestine described Hall's move as "a significant endorsement of the campaign to end ties with Israeli institutions." 

Awarded annually, the Dan David Prize is one of Israel's most prestigious academic awards. Prizes amounting to $1 million each are awarded in three fields – Past, Present and Future – though they are usually shared by two or more recipients.

Being an historian, Hall was due to receive the prize in the Past field 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."

The organizers behind the Dan David Prize announced that the $300,000 cash award will instead be given out as scholarships for young history students in Tel Aviv University and worldwide.

The Dan David Foundation was founded in 2000 with a $100 million endowment by Romanian-born Israeli businessman and philanthropist Dan David. The Founding Director was Professor Gad Barzilai. The foundation and Tel Aviv University award the prizes. The first awards ceremony took place at Tel Aviv University in 2002.