The offices of the Breaking the Silence organization in Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Faculty from the Ben Gurion University of the Negev will present an alternative award to the controversial NGO rights group Breaking the Silence in lieu of a canceled prize the group was supposed to receive from the university.
The event, set to take place next Monday on campus, will see the group receive a NIS 20,000 award presented by Dr. Iris Agmon, BGU’s Middle East Studies Department head. The event will also include a lecture by famed Israeli author Amos Oz titled “Betrayal and Loyalty.”
Earlier this year in June, the Middle East Studies Department announced it would award the NIS 20,000 Berelson Prize for Jewish-Arab Understanding, in memory of Yitzhak Rabin, to Breaking the Silence, which provides anonymous testimonies of soldiers that describe alleged IDF transgressions.
However, shortly after the announcement, BGU President Prof. Rivka Carmi intervened and overturned the decision. She reasoned that the organization was not a part of the “national consensus” and that awarding the group could be “interpreted as a political bias.”
Following the cancellation of the prize, students and academics launched a crowdfunding campaign to provide an alternative award for the same sum, and saw hundreds of academics, students, and public figures provide their financial support.
Yuly Novak, head of Breaking the Silence said in response that she was “happy to discover that in front of the moral corruption, the violence, and the silencing, strong and brave forces rise up that refuse to give up on democracy and fight with us for the right and the duty to criticize and expose the truth about what is happening in the occupied territories.”
Ben Gurion University said in response: “It is a private initiative of some faculty members at the University who want to have an even on campus and bestow an alternative prize instead of the Berelson prize which the University has already bestowed.”
The university instead earlier this year bestowed the 2016 Berelson Prize to The Arab-Jewish Center for Equality, Empowerment and Cooperation – Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development.
“Today a formal request to hold the event was submitted and will be considered according to the regulations for conducting public and political activities on campus,” the university said.