‘Netanyahu sacrifices literature for election votes’ — banned Israel Prize judge

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Reuters / Baz Ratner)

Israeli PM, Benjamin Netanyahu, tried to thwart opposition voices among Jewish intellectuals ahead of the general election in March by banning three judges from the prestigious Israel Prize’s panel, Ariel Hirschfeld, one of the disqualified, told RT.

The Israel Prize, the Jewish state’s equivalent of the Noble Prize, was established in 1953 to award excellence in science and culture as well as honor individuals for their lifetime contribution to the nation.

But ahead of this year’s award to be handed out in April, Netanyahu vetoed the appointment of three Israel Prize judges — Ariel Hirschfeld and Avner Holtzman for the Literature Prize panel and filmmaker Chaim Sharir — accusing them of “extremist and anti-Zionist” views.

“The situation in which a small and closed group, which holds extremist views, has control of the selection of the winners of the Israel Prize, must change,” the prime minister wrote on his Facebook page.

The prime minister is also interim education minister and so has oversight over jury selection. Netanyahu said: “Over the years, more and more radical figures, including anti-Zionists — for example, those who support refusal to serve in the IDF — have been appointed to the panel and too few authentic representatives of other parts of the nation.”

“I don’t think the prime minister should be involved in such matters” as dismissing an award panel, Ariel Hirschfeld, a Hebrew literature professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, told RT.

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