It was business as usual on Tuesday for veteran Israel Radio military correspondent Carmela Menashe following the announcement the previous day that she is one of eight laureates for 2010 of the EMET Prize for excellence in academic and professional achievements in the arts, science and culture.
Her work has earned her the nickname of “The mother of the soldiers.”
The prizes totaling $1 million are awarded by the A.M.N. Foundation for the Advancement of Science Art and Culture in Israel in cooperation with the Prime Minister’s Office.
The foundation, created in 1999 by Latin American friends of Israel, works with academic, medical and social welfare organizations providing financial support for a variety of projects and scholarships.
Menashe’s prize was in the category of Social Science.
Computer scientists Professors Sarit Kraus and David Harel were honored in the Exact Sciences category; brain researchers Professors Baruch Mimke and Moussa Youdim were chosen in the category of Life Sciences; Prof. Itamar Singer, an expert on the Ancient Middle East, and Prof. David Shulman, whose area of expertise is African Asian Studies, were chosen in the category of Humanities; and translator S. Shifra, in the category of Culture and Arts.
The adjudicating committee was headed by retired Supreme Court justice Gavriel Bach.
Menashe, who started as a secretary at Israel Radio in 1974, has been the network’s military reporter for 22 years, having previously been the crime reporter.
She was embarrassed by all the compliments that were being showered on her.
Moti Kirschenbaum, a former director-general of the Israel Broadcasting Authority, said she was a great and rare talent who had become an institution. He credited Menashe with introducing a humane genre into the army, by treating soldiers not as an anonymous mass, but as individuals with genuine problems and grievances.
In this respect she had contributed to changes in the army, he said. Kirschenbaum added that in a sense Menashe had become something in the nature of an ombudswoman and often received complaints that should have been directed to the State Comptroller’s Office.
Colonel (res.) Ilan Katz, a former deputy military advocate-general, said Menashe had not confined herself to general military reporting about wars and skirmishes, but had focused on the individual soldiers, whom Katz described as “the real defense” of Israel.
He admitted that she had not made the lives of the IDF brass easy, but emphasized that she had come to them only after thoroughly investigating whatever issue it was that occupied her attention. “She’s a top professional,” he said.
IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, who has known Menashe for around 20 years, since he was commander of the Golani Brigade, said that everyone admires her integrity. He had already congratulated her personally on Monday, when the award was announced, but did so again on air on Tuesday, saying: “We all salute you.”
Menashe thanked her superiors at the IBA for nominating her for the prize, but said that without the editors and anchors at Israel Radio, she would be nobody.
Menashe became a flagship for feminists in the media, in that she was the first female Israeli broadcaster to become a military correspondent.
Menashe, very early in her career as a military reporter, covered the first intifada that started in late 1987, working at great personal risk. She subsequently covered all the national security events from the Lebanese border in the North to the borders with Gaza and Egypt in the South.
She never neglected what she sees as her sacred duty toward each soldier, and the conditions under which he or she is serving.
She has exposed cases of mistreatment by officers, hazing by fellow
recruits, humiliation, sexual abuse, medical negligence and many other
personal issues that have made life in the army insufferable for many
The IDF respects her so much that it offered her a senior officer’s
position, which she declined, preferring to continue her work as a
“There’s hardly an Israeli who doesn’t know of Carmela,” said Israel
Radio director Moti Amir. Menashe works day and night, on weekends and
on Jewish holidays to bring the most up-to-date information to Israel
Radio listeners, he said.
Indeed, her husky voice was heard many times throughout the day on
Tuesday, with updates on the disturbances along the Lebanese border.