EMET Prize Pick Seen as Shot in the Arm for Traditional Media

The choice of Carmela Menashe as one of the eight recipients of this year's EMET Prize marks a confirmation of traditional media's important role in Israeli society, the veteran radio broadcaster said this week.

"When there is an unhealthy mixture of news and entertainment, when young people want to become famous in sterile studios and keep their distance from Sisyphean journalistic activity, I consider the receipt of this prize a great honor, just because of my long years of work in public broadcasting," Menashe said at the ceremony. "I consider receipt of the prize as recognition of the fact that in journalism in general and in the digital space in particular, there is appreciation for classic journalistic work, being in the field, watching the news being made with your own eyes and not via e-mail reports or press releases."

This is the ninth year for the EMET Prize for art, science and culture, which is funded by a foundation established by private donors from Latin America and is handed out by the prime minister.

The annual prize purse, totaling $1 million, was divided this time among eight winners: Computer scientists Sarit Kraus and David Harel; brain researchers Baruch Minke and Moussa Youdim; Prof. Itamar Singer, and Prof. David Shulman in the category of humanities; and poet and translator S. Shifra in the category of culture and arts.

This year for the first time, a prize was also awarded for journalism, and Menashe, the laureate, was chosen to speak in the name of the winners.

"[I am] more excited than I ever was under all those bombs," said Menashe, who has covered the Israel Defense Forces for Israel Radio since 1988. "Journalism is an engine for social change, and not a means of reinforcing ancient myths that have been emptied of content. ... The responsibility borne by the journalist, in my opinion, is as great as that borne by scholars - to beware of slipping into hasty and mistaken conclusions."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Menashe in his speech. "Carmela, you really do serve as a mouthpiece for soldiers, for ordinary soldiers. You tell the truth. You really tell the truth," he said.

Netanyahu boasted about the intellectuals and scientists who won the prize, whose laureates have also on occasion won the Nobel Prize.

"The Jews receive more Nobel Prizes than any other nation, the State of Israel receives more Nobel Prizes relative to the size of its population than any other country, and the contributions, as you have seen here, are universal." he said. "Just as the Jews contribute to humanity, this creativity also contributes to the preservation of our people and our country."

"The entire significance of what I do is to plant Hebrew culture in the place where it belongs," said Shifra. "We originated here, and we are not a foreign implant here, neither in terms of language nor even in terms of religion."