'One Winner Is Missing': Israel Prize Ceremony Airs Amid Scandal

Ceremony was filmed on Sunday in Jerusalem amid controversy over education minister's successful request to withhold the Israel Prize for mathematics from Prof. Oded Goldreich over alleged support for BDS, which he denies

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The 2021 Israel Prize recipients during the ceremony.
The 2021 Israel Prize recipients during the ceremony.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

The Israel Prize ceremony for this year was broadcast on Thursday, amid controversy over Education Minister Yoav Gallant's successful request to withhold the Israel Prize for mathematics from its planned recipient over alleged support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

The ceremony was filmed on Sunday in Jerusalem, a few days after the High Court of Justice ruled that Gallant had 30 days to justify his decision to deny Prof. Oded Goldreich the prize because he allegedly supports the BDS movement – which Goldreich denies.

The winner of the Israel Prize for cinema, Michal Bat-Adam, said upon receiving the prize that she was dismayed that there were only eight winners, "because one winner is missing."

>> Scandal hits Israel's top prize, with claims of witch hunt against the left

In addition to Bat-Adam, the winners were Prof. Yair Zakovitch (Bible Studies), Prof. Ariela Lowenstein (Social Work and Criminology), Prof. Eli Keshet (Life Sciences), Prof. Ben-Ami Shilony (Far Eastern Studies), Prof. Nitza Ben-Dov (Literature Studies); Nurit Zarchi (Literature), and Joseph Ciechanover (Lifetime Achievement Prize).

On Thursday, Goldreich said Gallant’s decision was “another small step in the delegitimization of the left in Israel," calling the move to deny him the prize “political persecution.” 

Gallant said Friday that Israel must check if Goldreich’s rejection of BDS is “sincere” before he awarding him the prize. 

Goldreich called it a “political investigation,” adding that Gallant wants “to prevent me from receiving the prize because of my opinions, because I am a leftist. There is nothing else.”