The far-right Minister of Education in Benjamin Netanyahu’s caretaker government, MK Yoav Galant, has demanded that the Israel Prize nominating committee rescind its rumored decision to award the country’s highest honor to Professor Oded Goldreich, a leading computer scientist, Al–Ittihad and Zo Haderech have reported in recent days. Goldreich, who has been active for years against the occupation of the Palestinian territories, is a long-time member of Hadash and the Communist Party of Israel (CPI).
Minister Galant, a former general in the Israeli army, was head of the Southern Command during Israel’s excessively brutal and devastatingly destructive, 3-week military campaign “Operation Cast Lead” against Hamas in the Gaza Strip (December 27, 2008-January 18, 2009) which resulted in some 1,400 Palestinian deaths, more than a thousand of which were minors, women or adult male non-combatants, according to B’Tselem. In 2010, Galant’s, nomination as the next Chief of Staff of Israel’s military was withdrawn following allegations of various improprieties on his part, including the seizure of public lands near his home at Moshav Amikam, near Zikhron Ya’akov along the Carmel region of Israel’s Coastal plain.
Galant, a member of the Likud since 2018, reportedly exploded when he unofficially learned last week that the recipient of this year’s Israel Prize for the fields of Mathematics and Computer Science would be Goldreich, a professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot. In June 2017, Goldreich was among some 240 Israeli scholars who signed an appeal to the German Bundestag calling on it not to adopt a legally non-binding motion then being debated by the lawmakers which categorized the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel as “anti-Semitic.” The Israeli signatories to the petition categorically refuted any such aspersions towards BDS, and expressed their concern that, if passed, the German resolution would curtail freedom of speech.
The 64-year-old professor of computer science told Channel 12 that he knew nothing about the talk of his being designated to receive the Israel Prize. “I have not been updated on the win,” he told the television station. Goldreich, who has done extensive research on cryptography and computational complexity theory, was awarded the prestigious Knuth Prize in 2017 for outstanding contributions to the foundations of computer science.