In Israel Prize Speech, Bennett Says 'Those Who Don't Fail Big Will Never Have Courage to Win Big'

Outgoing education minister, whose party didn't make it into new Knesset, gave a final speech at official event marking the end of Independence Day celebrations

Israel's Education Minister Naftali Bennett speaks at the Israel Prize ceremony in Jerusalem, May 9, 2019.
Emil Salman

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett said Thursday, in what is likely his final speech at an official event after his Hayamin Hehadash party failed to pass the electoral threshold in Israel's recent election, that "Those who don't allow themselves to fail big will never have enough courage to win big."

Speaking at the Israel Prize ceremony in Jerusalem, in an event that concluded Israel's 71st Independence Day celebrations, Bennett alluded to the recipients' courage.

Also in attendance were President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Deputy Knesset Speaker Meir Cohen and Supreme Court President Esther Hayut.

>> Read more: Bennett takes 'full responsibility' for party's failure to enter Knesset after final election resultsThe downfall of Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked

Bennett added that "you try as long as you can, don't give up as long as there's any chance. Once you're hit – get up, learn from your mistakes and move on. I did the best I could. There's so much work yet to be done, and people at least as good as me to do it. Wherever I'll be, I'll never stop giving everything I can for the Israeli people."

This year's Israel Prize, one of the country's most prestigious honors, was awarded to 10 people in nine fields. Five of them are women and all are Jewish. In 2018, only three out of 16 recipients were women.

Rona Ramon, the widow of Israel’s first and only astronaut, who died in December of pancreatic cancer at age 54, posthumously received a lifetime achievement award for her social activity in setting up numerous educational and scientific initiatives in memory of her late husband Ilan Ramon.

Chaim and Miri Ehrental, founders of nongovernmental organization Zichron Menachem, aiding Israeli children with cancer and their families, also received a lifetime achievement award.

Naomi Polani receives Israel Prize at a ceremony in Jerusalem, May 9, 2019.
Emil Salman

Prof. Adi Kimchi, a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 2015, won the prize for life sciences research for her "work to advance women in science by establishing and implementing various programs whose goal is to provide equal opportunities for female scientists at various stages of their academic careers."

Prominent actress, singer and director Naomi Polani, dubbed "the mother of military bands," was awarded the Israel Prize for the stage arts, theater and dance. Born in pre-state Israel in 1927, Polani joined the Palmach band in 1945 and went on to perform with and direct Israel Defense Forces bands.

Linguist Prof. Aharon Maman is the winner of this year’s Israel Prize for the study of Jewish languages, literature and popular culture. He is the vice president of the Academy of the Hebrew Language and a member of the governing board of the World Union of Jewish Studies. In 2013 he was chosen president of the Society for Judeo-Arab Studies and in 2016 he was a member of the Biton Committee for the enrichment of the legacy of Sephardic, Middle Eastern and North African Jewry in the Israeli educational system.

Prof. Amnon Ben-Tor of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem was awarded the prize for geography, archaeology and Land of Israel research, Dan Eytan for architecture and design, Prof. Mordechai Akiva Friedman for Jewish history, Prof. Dan Yakir for geology, earth sciences and atmospheric sciences and Prof. Deborah Bernstein for sociology and anthropology.