Italian president gets Dan David Prize at TAU

Other winners include writer Margaret Atwood, Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore.

Dan David Award Ceremony Attendees 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
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 ServicesMinister Isaac Herzog, who is a law graduate of TAU; philanthropist andinventor Dan David; TAU President Prof. Joseph Klafter; and numerousdignitaries and academics from Israel and abroad, including diplomatsrepresenting the countries of all the laureates.
In the citations explaining the reasons for singling out the winners ofthis year’s prize, Napolitano was characterized as one of the mostprominent leaders of the Italian Communist Party (PCI), whose “courageand intellectual integrity have been crucial in healing the wounds ofthe Cold War in Europe, as well as the scars left in Italian politicsand culture in the wake of fascism.”
He was credited with being a crucial player in the process of theItalian Historic Compromise, which bridged the chasm between theItalian Left and Right, and thus integrated the PCI fully into Italianpolitics, enabling it to participate in government for the first timesince World War II. Napolitano became one of the first members of thePCI to serve in an Italian government coalition and was later electedspeaker of the Chamber of Deputies. His election in 2006 as presidentof the Italian Republic has been supported by a wide parliamentarycoalition, encompassing parties across the spectrum of Italianpolitics. He was also influential in moving the PCI toward apan-European and also Atlanticist position, which had widerrepercussions among other European left-wing parties, and toward theadoption 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 prizemoney toward 20 scholarships for outstanding doctoral and post-doctoralstudents from all over the world.
The Dan David Prize seeks to impact the next generation of leaders. Itinvolves high school students through the “Name Your Hero” essaycompetition, in which students submit essays proposing candidates theyconsider worthy of the prize. Selected students participate in anadvanced writing workshop at Tel Aviv University, and the winningstudents are awarded monetary prizes.
David himself has an honorary doctorate in philosophy from TAU and is amember of the TAU board of governors. An industrial photographer bytraining, he dreamed of designing a technology for instant photos. Whenthe dream was realized, the photo booth became a fixture around theworld, enabling people to take their own ID photos by dropping a coinin a slot and posing in front of a screen.
When his invention was still in the dream stage, David was unable toprogress because he was short of money. He found a backer, and throughthe man’s generosity, was able to make his own scientific contributionto the world.
Now he rewards others who have contributed in other fields, and provides incentives for the next generation.