Author David Grossman Snubs Olmert Upon Receiving Prize

Famed writer, who lost his son in Lebanon and decried Israel's leadership, didn't shake PM's hand.

Author David Grossman, upon receiving the Emet Prize for Arts, Science and Culture, did not shake the hand of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert or Supreme Court President Justice Dorit Beinisch at the awards ceremony Wednesday night in the Jerusalem Theater.

Grossman, whose son Uri was killed during fighting in the Second Lebanon War, said in a speech at last year's rally commemorating assassinated former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin that "at this time there is no king in Israel... our leadership is hollow."

In the speech, he addressed Olmert directly, saying, "Certainly I am grieving, but I am more pained than angry. This country and what you and your friends are doing to it pains me."

The organizers of the awards ceremony were told in advance that Grossman did not intend to shake Olmert's hand, and the prime minister was briefed beforehand. He did not stand or approach Grossman when he received his prize.

After the ceremony, the famed author said, "I don't shake the prime minister's hand. I assume you can understand the reason." Beinisch said she was not surprised by Grossman's silent statement, and said, "I shook Grossman's hand earlier."

The Emet Prize is a $1 million prize awarded by the Prime Minister's Office and the Alberto M. Nissim Foundation. The prize was divided this year among 11 recipients, including former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak and writer Sami Michael.