Dan David Award Ceremony Attendees 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Italian President Giorgio Napolitano was one of the recipients of the prestigious Dan David Prize, which was awarded at a gala ceremony at Tel Aviv University on Sunday night.
Inaugurated in 2002, the prize is awarded annually to individuals or institutions – past, present and future – that have made excellent and outstanding contributions to humanity in the sciences, arts and humanities.
Napolitano received the award in recognition of his dedication to the cause of parliamentary democracy; Canada’s Margaret Atwood and India’s Amitav Ghosh, for their compelling literary works exploring the history and social issues of 20th-century society; and American Prof. Leonard Kleinrock of the University of California – known as the father of the Internet – Intel co-founder Dr. Gordon E. Moore, and computer scientist Prof. Michael O. Rabin of Harvard and Hebrew universities, for their seminal research and groundbreaking innovations in computer technology.
The prize was given in the presence of Welfare and Social Services
Minister Isaac Herzog, who is a law graduate of TAU; philanthropist and
inventor Dan David; TAU President Prof. Joseph Klafter; and numerous
dignitaries and academics from Israel and abroad, including diplomats
representing the countries of all the laureates.
In the citations explaining the reasons for singling out the winners of
this year’s prize, Napolitano was characterized as one of the most
prominent leaders of the Italian Communist Party (PCI), whose “courage
and intellectual integrity have been crucial in healing the wounds of
the Cold War in Europe, as well as the scars left in Italian politics
and culture in the wake of fascism.”
He was credited with being a crucial player in the process of the
Italian Historic Compromise, which bridged the chasm between the
Italian Left and Right, and thus integrated the PCI fully into Italian
politics, enabling it to participate in government for the first time
since World War II. Napolitano became one of the first members of the
PCI to serve in an Italian government coalition and was later elected
speaker of the Chamber of Deputies. His election in 2006 as president
of the Italian Republic has been supported by a wide parliamentary
coalition, encompassing parties across the spectrum of Italian
politics. He was also influential in moving the PCI toward a
pan-European and also Atlanticist position, which had wider
repercussions among other European left-wing parties, and toward the
adoption of a more measured and balanced policy on the Middle East.
The total value of the prize is $3 million, and the laureates in each category receive $1m.
As in previous years, the laureates donated 10 percent of their prize
money toward 20 scholarships for outstanding doctoral and post-doctoral
students from all over the world.
The Dan David Prize seeks to impact the next generation of leaders. It
involves high school students through the “Name Your Hero” essay
competition, in which students submit essays proposing candidates they
consider worthy of the prize. Selected students participate in an
advanced writing workshop at Tel Aviv University, and the winning
students are awarded monetary prizes.
David himself has an honorary doctorate in philosophy from TAU and is a
member of the TAU board of governors. An industrial photographer by
training, he dreamed of designing a technology for instant photos. When
the dream was realized, the photo booth became a fixture around the
world, enabling people to take their own ID photos by dropping a coin
in a slot and posing in front of a screen.
When his invention was still in the dream stage, David was unable to
progress because he was short of money. He found a backer, and through
the man’s generosity, was able to make his own scientific contribution
to the world.
Now he rewards others who have contributed in other fields, and provides incentives for the next generation.