Following public outcry, National Lottery reconsiders Landau Prize to poet Yitzhak Laor

In addition to the social protests, the Legal Forum for Israel also opposed the decision to grant Laor the prize due to his “extreme” political views and actions.

Yitzhak Laor (photo credit: NOAM VIND)
Yitzhak Laor
(photo credit: NOAM VIND)
Mifal Hapayis (the Israel National Lottery) announced Tuesday it has reconsidered awarding the annual Landau Prize for Art and Sciences in the poetry category to Yitzhak Laor.
Last month, widespread protests arose on social media against the decision to award the NIS 100,000 prize to Laor due to complaints that over the years he had sexually assaulted numerous women – though he was never investigated nor found guilty of these charges.
In 2010, Eshkar Eldan Cohen came forward with allegations that Laor had sexually assaulted her some 20 years ago. Due to the statute of limitations, the accusations could not be investigated, but her revelation brought additional woman forward who claimed to have been sexually harassed by Laor over the course of the past 20 years.
Since that time, none of the accusations was investigated nor was he charged with any crime. Laor denies all charges against him.
The Landau Foundation board of directors met Tuesday evening and reviewed the material for and against the decision, agreeing to cancel the prize in response to the intense public scrutiny. The board said it would return all the case material to the prize committee for reconsideration, given the new allegations.
“So the Landau Prize to Yitzhak Laor will return [to the prize committee] for reconsideration and a lot of people are calling to congratulate me,” Gilit Chomski, one of the prize committee judges wrote on her Facebook page on Wednesday.
“You are wrong. I am not happy at all,” she continued.
“I wish that all of this could have been avoided in the first place. The only bright light in this whole story is that he will probably finally arrive to court.”
Last month, following the initial award announcements, Chomski came forward and said she had been against granting the prize to Laor, but had been overruled by the committee’s two other judges.
“I opposed the decision, unequivocally and without reservation. I thought Laor was the wrong choice, poetically and morally. It was argued against me that he was never convicted (which is true) and that the judgment was on his work and not on his personality.
“Even despite this parameter, I still did not believe that Laor should be the winner.
I made it clear that the choice was forced upon me against my will and that I do not stand behind it and will not back it,” she wrote on her Facebook page.