Israel Prize winner donates cash award to Israeli group that helps Palestinians

Hebrew University Prof. David Shulman will receive the prize on Thursday for his research into languages and culture in south India.

Israel Prize laureate Prof. David Shulman announced on Wednesday that he would donate his 75,000 shekel ($20,000) cash prize to Ta’ayush, an Israeli group that assists Palestinian residents of the South Hebron Hills.

Shulman, who is an active member of Ta’ayush, will receive his prize on Thursday, in the context of the Independence Day celebrations.

The Hebrew University academic was awarded the Israel Prize in the field of religious research for his work on Indian languages and culture. He is regarded as one of the world’s leading experts on Sanskrit and southern India.

In addition to his academic work, Shulman is a prominent left-wing activist.

In a video posted online on Wednesday, Shulman explained his decision to donate the prize money to Ta’ayush and his deliberations over whether to accept the prize at all, due to the “general deterioration of the situation and the witch hunt against Ta’ayush, peace and human rights activists by a right-wing establishment determined to perpetuate the occupation.”

Shulman finally decided to accept the prize and donate the 75,000 shekel cash component to Ta’ayush.

The award of the Israel Prize to Prof, Shulman was announced by Education Minister Naftali Bennett in February. The award was recommended by a professional committee headed by Prof. Shaul Sheked.

The committee described Shulman’s research as “outstanding in its diverse engagement with various literary genres and different areas of research, among them religion, mythology, art, folklore and imagination. He established the field of Indian research in Israel and most of the Indian researchers in the country are his students. Prof. Shulman has made an important contribution to research and teaching in Israel’s universities.”

Bennett responded that “the Israel Prize for religious research was awarded to Prof. Shulman for his ground-breaking research in the field of literature and culture in south India. I do not believe that a person should be disqualified for his political views, whatever they are.”