Indian academics and civil society urge Sanjay Subrahmanyam to reject the Dan David prize

Dear Sanjay Subrahmanyam,

As readers and admirers of your work, we are saddened by your decision to accept the Dan David prize for history this year, along with Kenneth Pomeranz. By accepting this prize, endowed by Dan David Foundation and hosted by Tel Aviv University, you would be lending your name and academic distinction to institutions deeply invested in advancing Israel’s settler-colonial, occupation and apartheid project. You would strengthen the Israeli project to build a smokescreen to whitewash its crimes.

On the day of the announcement of your prize, Israel’s forces killed two teenagers in Gaza who were participating in the now nearly a year-long Great Return March. Over 200 Palestinians have been killed just over the last year as they demand their UN-sanctioned right to return to their villages and towns across the militarized separation barrier that besieges Gaza. 71 years of Israel’s regime of racism, ethnic cleansing and war crimes has intensified over the last years with regular home demolitions, expulsions and the apartheid wall. Last year, the Knesset passed a the Jewish nation-state law, conveying constitutional status to Israel’s apartheid regime. The racist, supremacist nature of Israel is what is bringing India’s ruling regime closer to it, as the latter too believes in the exclusivist, anti-minority ideology of Hindutva. We stand opposed to it, in defence of democracy and secularism, just as we stand in support of the Palestinian struggle for freedom. Our solidarity to Palestine is part of our postcolonial history, an article of faith we abide by.

The overwhelming majority of the Palestinian academia and civil society has called for boycott of Israel and its institutions until it respects Palestinian human rights and complies with international law. Growing number of academics, academic councils and students’ unions are endorsing the call for academic boycott of Israel. One of the three Nobel Prize winners for Chemistry last year, Professor George P Smith, who also supports the call, stated:

People of conscience all over the world have an obligation to pay attention to abuses of human rights, like [Israel’s] 71-year regime of dispossession and subjugation. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, that 170 Palestinian civil society organizations called for in 2005, calls for boycotting Israel until it meets some ordinary requirements, some minimal requirements, of moral behavior on the part of nations.

 Your brilliant scholarship on early modern world and your writings beyond have held that flame of conscience within them. It would be an injustice to your own work and your contributions if you were to accept this award and, in the process, lend legitimacy to Israeli apartheid institutions.

Professor Subrahmanyam, we urge you to respect the Palestinian picket line. There is no clearer way today to show one’s solidarity to their inspiring struggle. We hope you will reconsider your decision to accept the Dan David prize.


Endorsed By:

  1. Nivedita Menon, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  2. Leki Thungon, Lady Sri Ram College for Women, Delhi University
  3. Ritu Menon, Women Unlimited
  4. Saba Dave Kohli, United Against Hate
  5. Lakshmi Subramanian, Jamia Millia Islamia
  6. Bindu Doddahatti, Advocate, Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore
  7. Maimoona Mollah, President, All India Democratic Women’s Association, Delhi State Committee
  8. T Jayaraman, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
  9. Nayantara Sahgal, Author
  10. Achin Vanaik, Academic
  11. Nandini Sundar, Sociology, Delhi University
  12. Shiva Shankar, Chennai Mathematical Institute
  13. Indira Chandrasekhar, Tulika Books
  14. S Anand, Navayana
  15. Ranjan Solomon, BADAYL
  16. Papori Bora, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  17. Sudhanva Deshpande, LeftWord Books
  18. Moloyashree Hashmi, Jana Natya Manch
  19. Rajeev Dhavan, Senior Advocate
  20. YC Subrahmanya, Bangalore
  21. Ayesha Kidwai, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  22. Vivan Sundaram, Artist, Delhi
  23. Geeta Kapur, Art Critic, Delhi
  24. Sohail Hashmi, Writer and Filmmaker
  25. Chirag Dhara, Physicist and Climatologist
  26. Rajni Palriwala, Sociology, Delhi University
  27. Suhail Shafi, Activist
  28. Amit Sengupta Executive Editor (Knowledge Resource Centre, Delhi)
  29. Ram Puniyani, Center for Study of Society and Secularism
  30. Bibin Thomas, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad
  31. Orijit Sen, Artist
  32. Pushpamala N, Artist, Bangalore
  33. Shivangi Mariam Sharma, Student of Literature and Linguistics, Delhi
  34. Marcy Newman, Author: The Politics of Teaching Palestine to Americans
  35. Seema Mustafa, Senior Journalist
  36. Githa Hariharan, Author and Founder Editor, Indian Writers Forum
  37. Prabir Purkayastha, Founding Editor,
  38. Sukumar Muralidharan, Senior Journalist
  39. Asad Zaidi, Writer and Publisher, Three Essays Collective
  40. Dr. Mohan Rao, Former Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  41. Nuzhat Kazmi, Professor, Jamia Millia Islamia
  42. Ambika Nair, Lawyer and Journalist
  43. Vincent Manoharan, National Dalit Christian Watch
  44. Manjulie Vaiphei, Gender and Social Justice Desk, Students Christian Movement of India
  45. Dakerlin Mukhim, Faith Formation and Praxis Desk, Students Christian Movement of India
  46. Uma Chakravarti, Feminist Historian
  47. Inbaraj Jeyakumar, Students Christian Movement of India
  48. Fr. Devasagaya Raj, CBCI Office for Dalits and Backward Classes
  49. Nida Arif, Research Scholar, Delhi University
  50. Subhankar Chakraborty, Ecologist and Activist, Bangalore
  51. Dunu Roy, Hazards Centre, Delhi
  52. Pamela Philipose, Senior Journalist
  53. V. Geetha, Writer and Activist



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