Middle East Monitor / April 12, 2021
Jewish groups have called on America’s Chief Medical Adviser to the President, Dr Anthony Fauci, not to legitimise “apartheid” Israel by accepting a prominent prize from the Zionist state. Fauci is one of the winners of the Dan David Prize for “Speaking Truth to Power.” Winners of the award receive a prize of $1 million during a lavish ceremony in the Israeli capital, Tel Aviv.
The appeal to Fauci was made by Dr Alice Rothchild on behalf of the Jewish Voice for Peace Health Advisory Council. JVP urged Fauci to “send a powerful message” by rejecting the prize. “The fact is that the award is being offered by the Israeli government which is guilty of maintaining decades of occupation and a widespread disregard for international law and Palestinian human rights,” said the group.
“Accepting the Dan David Prize which you received for ‘Speaking Truth to Power’ will obscure the ongoing health crisis in the occupied territories that is caused by Israeli policies of de-development, restrictions of movement of people, medications, etc., and militarization of the entire region,” the group continued, while adding that “accepting the prize contributes to legitimizing Israel’s violence and racism and also legitimizes the institutions that are central to Israel’s apartheid policies”.
Urging Fauci to seriously consider institutional racism within Israel, JVP said: “We doubt you would have been an apologist for South African apartheid”, before calling on world-renowned immunologists to decline the prize and to respect the call for a cultural boycott of Israeli institutions. JVP explained that the call was issued by Palestinians who are most affected by Israeli policy and the denial of access to medical care that is central to the catastrophic disparities between Israeli citizens and Palestinians in the occupied territories when it comes to COVID-19.
Calls to boycott the Israeli prize have grown over the years. Critics say that the purpose of such awards is to whitewash the many human rights violations of Israel. Last month Roger Waters urged fellow music legend, Stevie Wonder, not to accept Israel’s Wolf Prize, which is normally given to those who have made outstanding contributions to the arts and sciences.
Several high-profile figures have turned down prizes awarded by Israel. Despite being a dual US-Israeli citizen, Hollywood star Natalie Portman declined to visit Israel in 2018 to receive the Genesis Prize. The actor snubbed the prestigious ceremony and a prize of $2 million given annually to Jews in recognition of excellence in their fields.
The same year, Israeli author Yuval Noah Harari refused to be honoured by the state in protest against its Nation-State Law. Defending Harari’s decision, his manager Karin Eliahu-Perry said at the time: “We prefer not to represent the government as long as it persists in this policy [the Nation-State Law].”
The law was passed in 2018 and declared that only Jews have the right of self-determination in the country. Its clauses enshrine in law the creation of Jewish-only settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories “as a national value”. Critics of the legislation have argued that it cements Israel’s status as an apartheid state.
In a landmark position paper in January, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem cited the bill as one of the many reasons for concluding that Israel is an apartheid state that “promotes and perpetuates Jewish supremacy between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.”