Inaugural address by Mr. Dan David, May 2001

Ladies and gentlemen, good evening.

I would like, first of all, to thank the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shimon Peres, for his presence and nice words at this ceremony. We all followed in the last weeks and until yesterday his travelling and meetings which could be so important for the future of the state of Israel. On our smaller side the Dan David Prize has been for the last few months the center of great planning efforts with the direct involvement of President Itamar Rabinovich.

Thanks to the cooperation of many people from different countries, the now year-long project of establishing in Israel this international academic award is beginning to take shape. And it's just with such a spirit of collaboration in mind, that the prize was created. Those who have helped in its establishment can understand how this project intends to reach out beyond traditional academic categorizations and national or ethnic barriers, in an effort to create something all-encompassing, something that will encompass the flow of what human knowledge in every field has been in the past, is in the present, and will be in the future.

These are the three time dimensions in which humanity is immersed, and every year the prize will be granted, for each time period, to those who have struggled to recollect our past, to understand the present, and to plan for the future.

Three independent committees will nominate three candidates for each prize, in accordance with the sole criterion of excellence and merit. Subsequently the final recipients will be chosen by the International Board, and today I would like to express my hope of seeing you all again next year at the first conferment of the prizes.

All this, of course, is a very complex endeavor and I therefore cannot begin to convey my appreciation for all those involved in fueling such an ambitious idea.

I especially would like to thank the international personalities who have already accepted a position on the Board, and to express my gratitude toward Tel Aviv University, and the people charged with its administration, for hosting and organizing the Prize.

In a past occasion here at Tel Aviv University, I recalled my days as a young university student in communist controlled Romania. I can still best describe those days as: gray. Buildings, speeches, faces all seemed subdued and shrouded with the colorless emotions of sadness and oppression. Today, walking along the flowered pathways of this university, you cannot help but notice that color shines everywhere and in every hue: in the students' chatter as in the professors' lectures, in the air as in the soil.

This feeling of freedom is one of the reasons why I believe Tel Aviv University is the right place to celebrate the achievements of the human race as one, and to honor those who have made a prominent contribution to its advancement. Advancement which, if conducted in liberty and goodwill, will proceed, I believe, beyond our wildest dreams.

To summarize this last concept, which represents a keystone in the Prize's desire to encourage breakthrough research, I would like to quote the words of H. G. Wells, a man who studied the past, fought for the present, and dreamed of the future. And here is what Wells had to say, in 1936, on the human enterprise:

"Rest enough for the individual man, too much and too soon, and we call it death. But for man, no rest and no ending. He must go on, conquest beyond conquest. First this little planet and all its winds and ways, and then all the laws of mind and matter that restrain him. Then the planets about him, and, at last, out across immensities to the stars. And when he has conquered all the deep space, and all the mysteries of time, still, he will be beginning."