Author David Grossman Awarded Prestigious Israel Prize on 70th Independence Day

Speaking at the ceremony, Minister Naftali Bennett says 'not only the right loves the land of Israel and not only the left seeks peace. Both aspire for the best of the state'

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Minister Naftali Bennett and President Reuven Rivlin during the Israel Prize ceremony in Jerusalem, April 19, 2018
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Israeli author David Grossman was one of 16 recipients of the Israel Prize on Thursday, in a ceremony that concluded Israel's 70 Independence Day celebrations. In attendance were President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Supreme Court President Esther Hayut and Education Minister Naftali Bennett.

>> 'Israel Is a Fortress, but Not Yet a Home': David Grossman's Memorial Day Speech to Bereaved Israelis and Palestinians >>

Speaking at the ceremony, Bennett said: "Ahead of us lies a great challenge of how can people of differing opinions can live together and still accept our destiny," adding: 

"The right doesn't hold a monopoly on patriotism just as the left doesn't have a monopoly on human rights. Not only the right loves the land of Israel and not only the left seeks peace. Both aspire for the best of the state."

Among recipients of the prize were former minister David Levy, chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky, Author David Grossman, Bereaved mother and education figure Miriam Peretz, Academic Professor Nava Ben Tzvi and Journalist Ron Ben Yishai.

In his speech at the alternative Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day service, Grossman said he would donate half of the prize money to the Family Forum for bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families, and the Elifelet Organization, which cares for the children of asylum seekers in Israel.

Out of the 16 recipients, only three are woman. Last month it was reported of the clear male majority among nominees for the prize, and that half the female nominees considered were all in Hebrew literature and poetry. Among committee members for the prize there was a male majority of 72%. Six prize committees, out of a total of 15, were chaired by women.

The vast majority of prize winners in the last 18 years have been Jewish men of Ashkenazi descent. From the 272 given in those years, only 49 were given to women (18% of winners.) Only one winner in the last 18 years was not Jewish: Kamal Mansour, a Druze public figure who won the lifetime achievement award in 2010. Since then, there have been no Arab or Druze recipients, and an Arab Muslim has never won an Israel Prize.

The Israel Prize is largely considered the state's most prestigious cultural honor.