Eighteen prominent international scientists wrote to Israel’s far-right Minister of Education, Yoav Gallant, on Thursday, April 22, to protest his decision to withhold the Israel Prize from Professor Oded Goldreich of the Weizmann Institute of Science, a political activist and member of Hadash and the Communist Party of Israel. According to Haaretz, the scientists, outstanding figures in computer science and mathematics, are laureates of important awards such as the Turing Award and the Abel Prize, which is considered as significant as the Nobel Prize.
The letter calls on Gallant to grant Goldreich the prize, and states that his refusal to do so due to the professor’s political opinions puts at risk the academic excellence for which Israel is known, and will only diminish the prestige of the Israel Prize. The writers praised Goldreich for his contributions to computer science and mathematics and their impact of his work and research on technology.
Copies of the letter, which was initiated by two Israeli scientists teaching in the United States, professors Shafi Goldwasser and Avi Wigderson, were sent to President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz. Goldreich told Haaretz that the education minister’s position “is nothing more than one small step in the ongoing process of delegitimizing the left wing in Israel.” Goldreich said Gallant wants to “prevent me from receiving the prize because of my opinions, because I am left-wing. There is nothing else.”