New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier has been awarded the $1 million Dan David prize, Politico reported. Wieseltier, who was cited by the prize board as “a foremost writer and thinker who confronts and engages with the central issues of our times,” will split the prize with French philosopher Michel Serres, who was called “one of the most important modern French philosophers.”
The Dan David Prize is considered one of Israel’s foremost awards and is given to individuals who have made “an outstanding contribution to humanity,” in the categories of “past, present and future.” The prize was founded in 2000 with a $100 million endowment by Romanian-born businessman Dan David and is administered by Tel Aviv University.
Other winners this year included historian Sir Geoffrey Lloyd, economist Esther Duflo and ophthalmologist and epidemiologist Alfred Sommer. Wieseltier and Serres shared the award in the “present” category.
“When Montale won the Nobel,” Wieseltier told The New York Times, referring to Italian poet Eugenio Montale, “a reporter called him that evening and asked how he felt. He said, ‘Less bad.’”
Crossposted from Haaretz
Joel and Ethan Coen, the Oscar award-winning producer-director team that created films like “The Big Lebowski” and “A Serious Man” have been announced as the recipients of a million dollar prize from Tel Aviv University, to be granted in May.
The Dan David Prize is named for the businessman and philanthropist and is administered by a board of directors headed by Tel Aviv University President Professor Yoseph Klafter. Ten percent of the recipients’ prize money is donated on their behalf to doctorate and post-doctorate student grants.
As we saw with the Batsheva Dance Company in 2009 and the Jerusalem Quartet in March, when it comes to Israel, even the most straightforward arts organizations have the potential to become the subjects of political controversy. The most recent flare-up centered around Canadian author Margaret Atwood, who accepted the Dan David Prize for literature on Sunday at Tel Aviv University, despite protestations from Palestinian groups who urged her to turn it down.
“By accepting the prize at Tel Aviv University, you will be indirectly giving a slight and inadvertent nod to Israel’s policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide,” read an open letter issued on April 4 by “the Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel.”