WASHINGTON – Amid rising anti-Israelism on US college campuses, famed actor Michael Douglas, alongside iconic author and refusenik Natan Sharansky, will begin a three-campus speaking tour on Thursday at Brown University to discuss community and inclusion amongst American Jewish youth.
The tour will move to Stanford University and the University of California at Santa Barbara next week, where the two men also plan to discuss the challenges of anti-Semitism in university settings.
Douglas joins Sharansky as the second laureate of the Genesis Prize, a coveted award of $1 million granted with the aim to inspire unaffiliated young Jews worldwide to remain active in the community.
“At a time when the academic community and other forces are making sustained efforts to delegitimize Israel, these visits are particularly important and timely,” said Stan Polovets, co-founder and chairman of the Genesis Prize Foundation.
The prize was originally devised during a time of growth in the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, and as more reform American Jews are choosing to disassociate with the faith.
“At a time when the new and old forms of anti-Semitism are coming together to undermine Israel’s legitimacy and drive Jews apart from their Jewish identities and from one another, it is crucial that we emphasize the connection between our devotion to human rights, our commitment to peace, and our dedication to strengthening the unity of the Jewish people,” Sharansky, former deputy prime minister and chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, said in a statement.
The first Genesis Prize– dubbed a “Jewish Nobel” by TIME Magazine– was awarded to former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2014. The latest recipient is famed violinist and Presidential Medal of Freedom winner Itzhak Perlman.
Douglas chose to defer the $1 million financial award to promote engagement of intermarried families in the Jewish community. The events at Stanford and UCSB will be held on February 2 and 3.