Pro-BDS professor rumored frontrunner for Israel’s most prestigious prize

Education Minister demanded that the nominating committee rescind its decision, which has yet to be announced.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Education Minister Yoav Galant has demanded that the Israel Prize nominating committee rescind its alleged decision to award the country’s highest honor to a professor who has defended the boycott effort against Israel, Channel 12 reported Wednesday.

Unofficially hearing that the recipient of the award in the category of Mathematics and Computer Science would be Weizmann Institute Prof. Oded Goldreich, Galant blew a gasket upon discovering that the academic had signed an appeal to the German parliament calling to cancel the recognition of the BDS movement as being anti-Semitic.

“The state of affairs in which the professor will receive the most prestigious award from the state with one hand, and with the other hand promotes the affairs of a movement that undermines the existence of Israel – is absurd and unacceptable,” he said, according to the report.

In May 2019, the Bundestag passed an advisory resolution calling on Germany’s regional and local governments to deny public funding or space to any person or institution that supports or identifies with the BDS movement or questions Israel’s right to exist.

In June, some 240 mostly Jewish and Israeli scholars, including Goldreich, condemned the legally non-binding motion and called on the government not to adopt it. They denied that BDS was anti-Semitic and expressed the concern that the resolution curtailed the right of freedom of speech.

BDS was founded by Palestinian activist Omar Barghouti, who has stated, “We oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine.” The movement falsely compares Israel to apartheid-era South Africa and demands the “right of return” for all Palestinian refugees and their descendants to Israel, which would effectively destroy the Jewish state.

According to website Political Campus, which seeks freedom of speech for conservative academics equal to that of liberals in Israeli institutions, Goldreich has signed other anti-Israel petitions as well. During 2014’s Operation Protective Edge to stop Hamas terrorism, he joined a call against an Israeli “slaughter of innocents” that also decried the “endless oppression of the Palestinian people.” He has supported lecturers and students who refuse to serve in the IDF, asked the Spanish parliament to recognize “Palestine,” and signed a petition backing the extreme left-wing Breaking the Silence organization.

The 64-year-old professor told Channel 12 that he knew nothing about the award.

“I have not been updated on the win,” Goldreich said. “I am not willing to comment on what I don’t know. I don’t know what it’s about and therefore I don’t know how to respond.”

Goldreich, who has done extensive research on cryptography and computational complexity theory, won the Knuth Prize in 2017 for outstanding contributions to the foundations of computer science.