These are excerpts from a statement by the writer Amitav Ghosh, exlaining, in the face of protests, why he accepted the Dan David Prize from Tel Aviv University:
I think it is of paramount importance to note that this prize is awarded by a university in conjunction with a private foundation: it is not awarded by the state of Israel. I would like to state clearly that I do not believe in embargoes and boycotts where they concern matters of culture and learning. On the contrary I believe very strongly that it is important to defend the notion that institutions of culture and learning must, in principle, be regarded as autonomous of the state. Or else every writer in America and Britain, and everyone who teaches in a British or American university, would necessarily be implicated in the Iraq war… Similarly every Indian writer and academic would also be complicit in the actions of the Indian government in areas of conflict. And if we don’t defend this principle how will we defend the rights of dissent of those who are employed in universities – especially, for instance, in times of war, when reasons of state can be cited to create an explicit complicity?
I do not see how it is possible to make the case that Israel is so different, so exceptional, that it requires the severing of connections with even the more liberal, more critically-minded members of that society.