EMET PRIZE COMMITTEE member Jaime Aron (left) sits beside AMN Foundation General Manager Arie Dubson during the Prize ceremony last month.
(photo credit: OHAD GIGI/ZOOG PRODUCTIONS)
Jaime Aron is the recipient of The Jerusalem Post’s special award for his contribution to science, art and culture. He has been a member of the EMET Prize’s award committee since its inception in 1999 and has held numer ous high-profile positions, including as ambassador to Colombia from 1981 to 1984.
“The EMET Prize expresses two important things,” said Aron, special adviser to the minister of Diaspora and Public Diplomacy in Latin America, “that Jews have a strong desire to help the State of Israel and the excellence of the fields that the prize covers. I have spent my entire life trying to help represent the excellence that exists in the State of Israel – not just to those within Israel, but also trying to broadcast those achievements throughout the wider world.”
Alberto Moscona Nisim developed the initial idea for the EMET Prize and Aron was soon enlisted at the prize’s inception. “I approached former president Ezer Weizmann and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who immediately understood the idea underpinning the prize, but it took three years of hard work to develop it,” Aron added. “We established something beautiful and honorable that encourages the honing of excellence in Israel.”
Aron argued that the growing importance of the EMET Prize was evident in that five of its recipients have gone on to win Nobel Prizes in their chosen fields. “In science, art and culture we have helped to improve Israeli society and we have consistently picked the best people in their fields in Israel,” Aron explained.
On receipt of his award from The Jerusalem Post for services to science, art and culture, Aron was a picture of humility.
“I have never done anything in my life because I thought that I would win a prize from doing it. To receive any prize is a special, but to receive one from The Jerusalem Post, specifically on this subject, is a big honor and gives me great satisfaction.” Aron was at pains to share his award with others, in particular his wife, without whom he said it would not have been possible to achieve what he has during his distinguished service.
“She shares this with me, as she has shared my life with me all along the way. In addition, I share it with Alberto Moscona (Nisim), my colleagues at the fund, Prof. Sela, Prof. Arnon, Prof. Ben-Israel, Justice Turkel, Arie Dubson, Shlomit Barnea – it is also in their honor that I accept this award.
A representative of the EMET Prize noted that it is important for the EMET Prize to receive nominations that are diverse. The call for nominations was opened up to the public this week and the award calls specifically for women nominees to be submitted.
Asked about whether recent controversies of politicians becoming embroiled in spats with artists are damaging to Israeli society, Aron cogently argued that it is artists who should not interfere in politics.
“I actually think that the question is exactly the opposite way around – artists are interfering in politics,” he said. “When artists behave with rudeness, they cannot expect people to stand idly by and not condemn their behavior. I am not saying that people should not have their own opinions – but there is a proper way to express them; it is not just what you say, but how you say it.”
In a year in which the EMET Prize was somewhat contentiously awarded to only men, did Aron think that mechanisms needed to be put in place to prevent such a showing in subsequent years? “I don’t believe that women should win prizes just for being women – rather it should be because they are honored and rewarded for the work that they have done,” he answered. “The judging committees who decide these things are made up of a mixture of men and women – in fact, there has to be at least one woman on the three-member panel. They decide according to the candidates presented.
The question is really about excellence, not about where the person is from or to which group they belong.”
In a public career spanning several decades, Aron was able to reflect on his long and varied service.
“Everything I do – and I think especially that which directly contributes to the state – is a thank you to God that I am alive,” he proclaimed.
Aron said that the prize he is due to receive is an important opportunity to improve the wider Israeli society’s knowledge and understanding of the sort of work that needs to be put into winning an EMET Prize.
“What you are doing is important, because in general in the Israeli press, not enough relevance is given to the EMET Prize. You are creating an important bridge between Israel and the world.”