Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu watches IDF maneuvers from an army base near Beersheba.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The judges panel for the Israel Prize in Literature is comprised of too many extremists, including anti-Zionists, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook page on Wednesday.
He was responding to the mounting criticism over his alleged interference in the makeup of the judges panel.
Netanyahu holds the Education Ministry portfolio responsible for overseeing the annual Israel Prizes and was asked to approve the panel, usually a formality.
“The committee that chooses the winners of the Israel Prize must be balanced and faithfully reflect a variety of ideologies, attitudes and dimensions of Israeli society.
But over the years more and more extremists were appointed to the judging committee, including anti-Zionist elements – such as those who support refusal to serve in the IDF – and too little authentic representatives of large parts of the nation,” he wrote.
According to the prime minister, the extremist committee members distribute prizes to their friends, whoever shares their viewpoints, and those who do not found it difficult to integrate into the judging committee.
“This situation, in which a small and closed group with extreme positions passes the baton from hand to hand and retains control over the selection of the winners of the Israel Prize has to change. Because the Israel Prize belongs to all the people of Israel,” Netanyahu said.
Earlier this week, it was revealed that the Prime Minister’s Office dismissed Prof.
Avner Holtzman, from Tel Aviv University, and Prof. Ariel Hirschfeld, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, from the judges panel for the Israel Prize in Literature after they had already begun assessing potential candidates for the prize.
Following this announcement, the six remaining members of the panel announced their resignation, decrying “the clear politicization of the prize” and casting doubt on whether it will be awarded this year.