British Academic Rejects Israeli Prize in ‘Political Choice’


A prominent British academic said Thursday she turned down a prestigious Israeli award for political reasons, in what looked to be the latest attempt by Western activists to boycott Israel.

Catherine Hall, a history professor at University College London, said her rejection of $300,000 in prize money from The Dan David Foundation was “an independent political choice.” She declined to elaborate, but her stance appeared to be inspired by the international BDS movement, which calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

In a statement to the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, a pro-BDS group, Hall announced that she was withdrawing from the prize “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.”

She did not return messages seeking additional comment.

The Dan David Foundation awards three $1 million prizes annually. Hall, whose research has focused on rethinking the relation between Britain and its empire in the 19th and 20th centuries, shared one of the awards with two others.

The foundation said Hall initially accepted the prize enthusiastically when she was selected in February and only later asked to withdraw her name without giving a reason. It said it will donate Hall’s prize winnings to support Israeli and international history scholars.

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