Dear Professor Bashford,

We are academics, researchers and students. We ask you to please reconsider accepting your share of the prestigious 2021 Dan David Prize,[1] the academic award administered by and headquartered at Tel Aviv University (TAU).[2] This year’s prize rewards scholars who have contributed to advances in and understanding of medicine and public health. In reality, however, accepting it serves to legitimize and normalize Israel’s colonial violence and apartheid.

As we are sure you are aware, for decades, through its military occupation, blockade and apartheid, Israel has been undermining Palestine’s health systems and systematically denying Palestinians medical care.[3] In a report from November last year, the director of the World Health Organisation noted that Israel’s ‘chronic occupation has profound implications for the sustainability of health-care provision by public authorities, in terms of both revenue raising and affordability.’[4] Palestinians are regularly blackmailed into collaboration with the Israeli Security Services in order to get the permits they need to leave the West Bank and Gaza for medical treatment.[5] Currently, while Israel has been hailed for vaccinating its population, it is refusing to immunize all Palestinians under its rule,[6] as is its responsibility,[7] and placing obstacles in the way of transfer of vaccines into Gaza and the West Bank, entry to which it fully controls – clear testament to the apartheid regime it maintains.[8]  

Since 2005, Palestinian civil society organizations have been calling on supporters of justice and antiracism around the world to express solidarity with the Palestinian people and the Palestinian cause by boycotting Israel, including its academic institutions. Accepting the prize would be a clear violation of this call, and an outright refusal of Palestinians’ aspirations for freedom. We ask you to respect the wishes of Palestinian people and not side with their oppressor.

TAU directly facilitates Israel’s ongoing illegal occupation of the West Bank and its illegal blockade of Gaza. It must be held accountable for supporting Israel’s repression of Palestinians. Examples of TAU’s complicity in Israel’s anti-Palestinianism are numerous: 

– An affiliate of the university’s Sackler School of Medicine, the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute,[9] is currently stockpiling the bodies of scores of Palestinians for use as leverage in negotiations, refusing to release them to their families, a practice which contravenes international treaties and conventions.[10]  
– TAU hosts the Institute for National Security Studies, whose 2018 ‘Plan’ recommends completing the illegal separation wall, and ‘ongoing construction in settlement blocs’ – in other words, perpetuation of Israeli apartheid – and which declares in its current report that ‘it is necessary to prepare for the next war’.[11] 
– TAU’s Yuval Ne’eman Workshop for Science, Technology and Security cooperates closely with the Israeli Defence Force and other security services, and hosts work on, among other things, ‘missiles and guided weapons, homeland security, [and] force build-up policy’.[12] In 2008 the TAU President described himself as ‘awed by the magnitude and scientific creativity of the work being done behind the scenes at TAU that enhances the country’s civilian defense capabilities and military edge’.[13]  
– TAU’s Iby and Aladar Fleischman Faculty of Engineering runs an ‘entrepreneurship program’ with Elbit Systems,[14] a major Israeli arms manufacturer, whose weapons and technology are battle-tested on Palestinians.[15] 
– Since 2016, as at all Israeli universities, soldiers’ TAU tuition fees are paid after discharge from the army.[16]  
– In 2014, TAU offered a year’s free tuition to students who had participated in the murderous military attacks on Gaza.[17] 
– In 2012, TAU started collaboration with settlement organisations in archaeological digs in Palestinian East Jerusalem, in violation of international agreements.[18] 

Professor Bashford, we call on you to follow the lead of your colleague and fellow historian Professor Catherine Hall, who in 2018 refused the Dan David Prize prize.[19] Doing so would make an important contribution to the cause of antiracism and opposition to apartheid in Israel in a context in which state-led resolution efforts have failed. It would also avoid a flagrant contradiction with your own published work, which aims to contribute to ‘the critical history of colonialism, nationalism and public health’, investigating, among other topics, ‘segregation as both hygienic – that is, as part of public health – and racial – as part of the systems and cultures of race management’.[20]  

Israel’s racist policies against Palestinians, long criticised as instances of apartheid by Palestinians themselves, as well as by international legal and humanitarian authorities (including recently by the Israeli NGO B’Tselem) are an egregious example of racial segregation imposed on an entire population, with all the desperate consequences for Palestinians’ health and well-being that this implies.[21] 

Professor Bashford, you have a significant opportunity to contribute to public understanding of the importance of antiracism and anti-apartheid. In 2003, you and a co-author noted that ‘even repressive regimes have been eroded through criticism generated by external human rights groups attempting to universalise democratic ideals’; as you pointed out, ‘it is difficult to imagine the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa, for example, without the chorus of international calls to release high-profile political prisoners on Robben Island’.[22] Palestinians’ appeal for boycott is an attempt to mobilise a chorus of international calls of exactly this kind. 

Nothing obliges you to accept the Dan David prize and the financial reward that accompanies it. Doing so would be a sharp rebuke to the unanimous call from Palestinian organisations to support their struggle for freedom. As you have noted, ‘liberalism and the idea of democratic rule — most recently through the language of human rights — problematises arbitrary detention, the incarceration of non-criminals and of political prisoners’.[23] These are, however, among the very practices which Israel imposes on Palestinians. Refusing the award, opposing the whitewashing of Israel’s crimes, and rejecting collaboration with an Israeli academic institution complicit with the oppression of Palestinians, would earn you the respect and admiration of all those who believe that academic research must serve the cause of freedom, in Palestine and in the world.

Samah Sabawi, independent scholar, Melbourne
Nick Riemer, University of Sydney
Rima Najjar, Al Quds University, Palestine
Ahmed Alnajjar. Director of Public and International Relations, Ministry of Education, Palestine
Randa Abdel-Fattah, Macquarie University
Randa Farah, University of Western Ontario
Wael Hallaq, Columbia University
Peter Slezak, University of New South Wales
Alistair Sisson, University of New South Wales
Michael Grewcock, University of New South Wales
Alana Lentin, University of Western Sydney
David Brophy, University of Sydney
James Godfrey, Birkbeck, University of London
Jumana Bayeh, Macquarie University
Sara Dehm, University of Technology, Sydney
Ntina Tzouvala, Australian National University
Lucia Sorbera, University of Sydney 
Kieron Cadey, Canterbury Christ Church
Inna Michaeli, independent scholar, Germany
Michael Griffiths, University of Wollongong
Sara Saleh, University of New South Wales
Liyana Kayali, Australian National University
Micaela Sahhar, University of Melbourne
Kate Davison, University of Melbourne 
Daniel A. Segal, Pitzer College of the Claremont Colleges, USA
Nicola Perugini, University of Edinburgh
Sharri Plonski, Queen Mary, University of London
Ronit Lentin, Trinity College Dublin
Ryan Al-Natour, Charles Sturt University 
Robert Boyce, London School of Economics
Mohd Nazari bin Ismail, University of Malaya
Dr Lobna Yassine, Australian Catholic University 
Dr. Suzita Noor, University of Malaya
Karel Arnaut, KU Leuven
Paola Manduca, University of Genoa, Italy
John King, New York University
Angelo Baracca, University of Florence
Zati Azizul, University of Malaya
Marcelo Svirsky University of Wollongong
Elsa Haniffah Mejia Mohamed, University Malaya
MY Musa, USM
Aneesa Abdul Rashid, Islamic Medical Association of Malaysia 
Herman De Ley, Ghent University
Mark Ayyash, Mount Royal University, Canada 
Raja Jamilah Raja Yuso, University of Malaya
Norhayati Ab.Rahman, University of Malaya
David Faber, Flinders University
Dr. Noor Fadiya Mohd Noor, University of Malaya
Noor Adwa Sulaiman University of Malaya
Fatiha Shabaruddin, Universiti Malaya
Marc De Meyere Gent University
Susan Ferguson, Wilfrid Laurier University
Nozomi Takahashi, Staff scientist, VIB/Ghent University
Snehal Shingavi, University of Texas, Austin
Hassan Basri, University of Sultan Zainal Abidin
J. Ahmad, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia
Meera Atkinson, University of Notre Dame Australia
George H Morgan, Western Sydney University
Brian Brophy, University of Adelaide 
Zul’aini Zainal Abidin, Kolej Poly-Tech MARA 
Sharmani Patricia Gabriel, Universiti Malaya
Amir Nor, Islamic Science University
Professor Omar bin Yaakob, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia 
M.Tashid, University of Technology malaysia
Rozaini Roslan, UTHM
Mohamed Hatta Shaharom, Chairman Ikram Foundation of Malaysia
Harlina Halizah Siraj, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)
Prof Dr Hayati, USIM
Borhanuddin Mohd Ali, Universiti Putra Malaysia 
Prof. Azman Che Mat, UiTM
Mustafa Mohd Hanefah Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia
Ramli Bin Nazir, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia
Ahmad Hariza Hashim, Universiti Putra Malaysia
Prof Dr Norhasmah, UPM
Prof. Dr. Nor Azan, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
Dr. Abdul Rashid Mohamed, Universiti Sains Malaysia
Daing Nasir Ibrahim University Malaysia Pahang
Dr Sahrim Ahmad/Professor, UKM, Malaysia
Haiyun Ma, Frostburg State University, USA
Mahamod Ismail, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
Tengku Shahrom Tengku Shahdan, Universiti Selangor
Associate Professor Dr Suhaimi Mhd Sarif International Islamic University Malaysia
A’zzah, CEO, Al Musab Institute 
Wan Jefrey Basirun University Malaya
Adlina Suleiman Academy of Professors Malaysia
Khairul Saidah Abas Azmi, Senior Lecturer University of Malaya
Noorsyazly Rameli, Malaysia
Mohammad Nazri, Universiti Malaya
Kelton Muir Sydney University
John Michael O’Brien, University of Sydney
Souheir Edelbi, UNSW 
Paul Russell, Victoria University
Toby Fitch, University of Sydney 
Finola Laughren, University of Sydney
Dr Azmi Aminuddin, UiTM
Rohana Hassan, UiTM
Christiane Schomblond, Université Libre de Bruxelles
Kathryn Ticehurst, University of Sydney
Carol Que, University of Melbourne
Noor Sapiei, University of Malaya
Alan Hill, RMIT University, Melbourne
Goldie Osuri, University of Warwick
Azman Hassan , Universiti Teknologi Malaysia
Meloni Muir, University of Sydney
Liam Ward, RMIT University, Melbourne 
David Klein, California State University Northridge
Mike Cushman, London School of Economics
Harry Smaller, York University, Canada
Vannina Sztainbok, University of Toronto
Colin Mooers, Ryerson University, Canada
Sylvat Aziz, Queens University, Toronto
Joy Moore, Dawson College, Montreal
Asha Varadharajan, Queen’s University
Brett Story, Assistant Professor, Ryerson University
Larry Hannant, University of Victoria
Sumi Hasegawa, McGill University
Nicola Pratt, University of Warwick
David Borgonjon, Rhode Island School of Design
Kevin Moloney, York University, Toronto
Steven Jordan, McGill University
Peter Chidiac, University of Western Ontario
Anne Meneley, Trent University
Dr. Edwin E. Daniel, University of Alberta
Christo El Morr, York University
Natalia Maystorovich Chulio, University of Sydney
Matilda Fay, University of Technology Sydney
Mark LeVine, UC Irvine
Robert Austin, University of Sydney
Viviana Ramírez, independent scholar, Chile 
Mohd Hilmi Jaafar, University of Malaya
Victor Wallis, Berklee College of Music
Zuhaimy ismail, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia
Shira Robinson, George Washington University
Daing Nasir Ibrahim, University Malaysia Pahang
Malek Abisaab, McGill University
Graham Holton, University of Queensland 

Notes
[1]  https://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/general/unsw-sydney-historian-named-2021-dan-david-prize-laureate
[2] https://www.dandavidprize.org/about/about-the-prize
[3] A 2020 report by the WHO Director General, ‘Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan’, for instance, finds that ‘Israeli settler population in the West Bank, estimated to comprise more than 600000 persons, compared to Palestinians living in the same territory, have a life expectancy almost nine years higher, infant mortality more than six times lower and maternal mortality nine times lower’, 12. https://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/WHA73/A73_15-en.pdf
[4] ‘Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan’, 18. https://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/WHA73/A73_15-en.pdf
[5] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/dec/28/palestinians-gaza-strip-collaborate-israel
[6]https://reliefweb.int/report/occupied-palestinian-territory/joint-letter-free-and-equitable-access-and-distribution-covid
[7] https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=26655
[8] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/feb/16/israel-blocked-covid-vaccines-from-entering-gaza-say-palestinians
[9] https://www.health.gov.il/English/MinistryUnits/HealthDivision/MedicalAdministration/forensic/Pages/default.aspx
[10] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/2/24/israel-slammed-for-necroviolence-on-bodies-of-palestinians
https://www.inss.org.il/publication/questions-answers-inss-plan-strategic-framework-israeli-palestinian-arena/;
[11] https://www.inss.org.il/publication/strategic-survey-the-operative-arena/
[12] https://en-sectech.tau.ac.il/about
[13] https://english.tau.ac.il/sites/default/files/media_server/TAU%20Review%202008-09.pdf
[14] https://en-engineering.tau.ac.il/Engineering-Faculty-Home-innobitenglish
[15] https://whoprofits.org/company/elbit-systems/
[16] https://www.israel365news.com/79016/first-time-idf-will-fully-fund-soldier-university-scholarships/
[17] https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israeli-universities-lend-support-gaza-massacre
[18] https://www.haaretz.com/.premium-academics-urge-tel-aviv-u-not-to-join-e-j-lem-dig-1.5281799
[19] https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/prominent-historian-rejects-israeli-academic-award-1.5386129
[20] Bashford A. (2004) Introduction: Lines of hygiene, boundaries of rule. In: Imperial Hygiene. Palgrave Macmillan, London, pp. 13 and 2.
[21] https://www.btselem.org/publications/fulltext/202101_this_is_apartheid
[22] Bashford A. and Strange C., ‘Isolation and exclusion in the modern world An introductory essay’, in Bashford A. and Strange C. (eds) Isolation: Places and Practices of Exclusion, London, Routledge, 2003, p.14
[23] Bashford A. and Strange C. ‘Isolation and exclusion in the modern world An introductory essay’, in Bashford A. and Strange C. (eds) Isolation: Places and Practices of Exclusion, London, Routledge, 2003, p.14