Thursday, April 22, 2010

'It Is Not Awarded By The State Of Israel'

Amitav Ghosh on his refusing to refuse the Dan David Prize: 'I do not believe in embargoes and boycotts where they concern matters of culture and learning.' These, he argues, 'must, in principle, be regarded as autonomous of the state'.

Ever since Amitav Ghosh's name was announced--jointly with Margaret Atwood-- for the Dan David Prize, headquartered at Tel Aviv University, Israel, there have been some protests and campaigns, asking him to decline the prize, reminding him about his withdrawing The Glass Palace from the Commonwealth Prize competition in 2001. "I am not a person who seeks out controversy," he had told us in 2001, and he underlined the same today when we asked him why a private e-mail of his was doing the rounds of email-lists and some websites instead of a formal public statement from him: he did not wish it to become a big public issue, he said, and offered the following version of the statement:

Thank you for your message. I have received many others in relation to the Dan David Prize, which I am sharing with Margaret Atwood.

To begin with let me say that I am appalled by the enforced isolation of Gaza, by the continued expansion of settlements in the West Bank, and by the intransigence and extremism of the present government in Israel. My sympathies go to all of those who have suffered, and are suffering, in this long and destructive conflict.

Full text here Outlook

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