Israel’s Supreme Court of Justice ruled on Thursday in favor of Education Minister Yoav Gallant (Likud), who called to cancel the awarding of the prestigious Israel Prize to Weizmann Institute Professor Oded Goldreich due to his support for the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Due to new evidence exposed this week by the Zionist watchdog group Im Tirtzu and showing Goldreich’s support for boycotts, the court ruled that Goldreich cannot receive the prize this year and gave Gallant a month to further examine the issue.
Earlier this week, Im Tirtzu revealed that Goldreich was among the 522 academics from Israel and abroad who signed a petition on March 23 calling for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions in Judea and Samaria.
“After reviewing the petition and hearing the arguments of both sides,” the Supreme Court wrote, “we found appropriate at this stage to accept the position of the Attorney General that the Education Minister should be allowed to examine new information that he received only two days ago regarding a petition that Professor Goldreich signed that was publicized around two weeks ago.”
The court continued: “Calling for boycotts can in certain circumstances, without setting a precedent at this stage, fall into the scope of exceptional circumstances in which non-professional considerations can be taken into account.”
Gallant’s initial demand to rescind the prize from Goldreich came following a 2019 letter signed by 240 Israeli and Jewish academics – including Goldreich – that called on the German government to reject its historic resolution equating BDS with anti-Semitism. The letter also urged Germany to continue funding organizations, including pro-BDS NGOs, that “peacefully challenge the Israeli occupation” and “expose severe violations of international law.”
Im Tirtzu, one of Israel’s leading advocates against anti-Zionist politicization in academia, welcomed the decision and said that Goldreich does not deserve a prize from the State of Israel.
“Despite the fact that the Supreme Court justices had no business in the first place interfering with the Education Minister’s decision in regards to the Israel Prize, they were correct to side with Minister Gallant and to not allow a professor who slanders Israel and promotes boycotts to receive the Israel prize,” Im Tirtzu said in a statement.
“The State of Israel should not award those who slander it and Goldreich should not be permitted to receive the prize.”
The watchdog group also noted that Goldreich has a long history of anti-Zionist activity, which includes signing a petition encouraging the United Methodist Church to divest from “companies that enable the occupation to continue”; accusing Israel of the “slaughter of large numbers of wholly innocent people” in Gaza; and signing a petition in “support and appreciation” of students and lecturers who illegally refused to carry out their IDF service in Judea and Samaria.