Indian Academics and Civil Society Urge Sanjay Subrahmanyam to reject the Dan David prize
March 11, 2019
In early February this year, historian Sanjay Subrahmanyam won the Dan David prize for his contributions to macro history. He is sharing this prize of USD 1 million with historian Kenneth Pomeranz. Indian academics and members of civil society have, in an open letter, urged Subrahmanyam to reject this prize respecting the Palestinian call for academic and cultural boycott of Israel. In their letter, they note: “By accepting this prize, endowed by Dan David Foundation and hosted by Tel Aviv University, you would be lending your name and academic distinction to institutions deeply invested in advancing Israel’s settler-colonial, occupation and apartheid project. You would strengthen the Israeli project to build a smokescreen to whitewash its crimes.”
In their letter, they delineate the nature of Israel’s settler-colonial, occupation and apartheid regime, which is deepening its ties with India under the Modi regime. Uma Chakravarti, feminist historian and also signatory to the letter said: “Respecting the Palestinian academics' call for boycott of Israel, and supporting their struggle is linked to struggles of democracy and secularism in India today which has a long history since the time of Mahatma Gandhi and his position on Palestine and the rights of Palestinians to live in peace and dignity in their own homelands. By accepting the award Sanjay Subrahmanyam would be legitimising the expansionist acts of the Israeli state upon the Palestinian people which have increased in intensity in recent years and have horrified all peace-loving people in the world.”
V Geetha, writer and signatory to the letter remarked: “We ought to urge him to refuse…..The point also is that part of the prize money is to fund further studies in Israel and abroad, and this at a time when Gaza students cannot even go to school regularly, or are rounded into open air prisons.”
The joint letter also observes: “Your brilliant scholarship on early modern world and your writings beyond have held that flame of conscience within them. It would be an injustice to your own work and your contributions if you were to accept this award and, in the process, lend legitimacy to Israeli apartheid institutions.”
Read the full statement here.
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