A prominent American mathematician has donated an Israeli financial prize awarded for him to Palestinian students living under Israeli restrictions.
"I decided to donate my share of the Wolf Prize to enable the academic community in occupied Palestine to survive and thrive," David Mumford, professor emeritus in the Department of Applied Mathematics at Brown University, told Haaretz on Monday, May 26.
Mumford has won the 2008 Wolf Foundation Prize in Mathematics, one of the world’s top science prizes, for groundbreaking theoretical work in algebraic geometry.
His contributions to mathematics fundamentally changed algebraic geometry and were the grounds for winning the Fields Medal, the highest award in mathematics, in 1974.
The Wolf Foundation of Israel is a private nonprofit that awards prizes each year to outstanding scientists and artists in the six fields of agriculture, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, physics and the arts.
Prizes come with a diploma and $100,000.
Mumford decided to gave his share of the money to Birzeit University, near the West Bank town of Ramallah, and the Israeli group Gisha, which campaigns for free movement of Palestinians.
Right to Education
The world-renowned mathematician said he wants the Palestinians to have the same right to education as everybody else.
"I am very grateful for the prize, but I believe that Palestinian students should have an opportunity to go elsewhere to acquire an education," said Mumford.
"Students in the West Bank and Gaza today do not have an opportunity to do that."
Israel has set up hundreds of roadblocks in the occupied West Bank on claims of preventing Palestinian attacks.
The number of roadblocks rose from 566 in September to 607 by the end of April, according to UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Israel has also been closing the Gaza Strip’s exits to the outside world since last June.
It completely locked down the coastal area since January, banning food and fuel shipment supplies.
The closure is not only affecting the livelihood of Gaza’s 1.6 million people, but also the future of students who are forced to do without books, labs and even power to study at home.
Months after the start of the second term, more than half of the students still go to school without their curriculum books.
"The achievements I accomplished in mathematics were made possible thanks to my being able to move freely and exchange ideas with other scholars," maintained professor Mumford.
"But the people of occupied Palestine don’t have an opportunity to do that. The school system is fighting for its life, and mobility is very limited," he regretted.
"Education for people in the occupied territories gives them a future. The alternative is chaos."
(IslamOnline.net and newspapers)