Slamming Netanyahu, Israel Hayom journalist withdraws candidacy for Israel Prize

Dan Margalit criticizes prime minister's "blatant intervention in the Israel Prize."

Dan Margalit (photo credit: REUTERS)
Dan Margalit
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The controversy surrounding the 2015 Israel Prizes continued on Tuesday as Dan Margalit announced he was withdrawing his candidacy for the Lifetime Achievement in Journalism award.
Margalit, a well-known veteran journalist who writes for Israel Hayom, announced the decision via his Twitter account, leveling criticism against the refusal of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, acting as education minister, to confirm the memberships of three members of the judging committees – two for the Literature panel and one for the Theater panel. The prime minister said many of the judges were extremists and anti-Zionist. More judges and candidates resigned in protest earlier.
“Netanyahu’s blatant intervention in the Israel Prize was halted, and I think the judges and the candidates had to restore it to its former glory, but they refused and the prize remains contaminated,” Margalit wrote.
“Even the judges who returned retracted [their return] and resigned for good, and they are distinguished, for example [literary scholar] Nurit Gertz and others. As such, I am withdrawing my candidacy for the lifetime achievement in journalism and thank all those who nominated me,” he tweeted.
On Monday night, Profs. Gertz, Nissim Kalderon and Ephraim Hazan announced they would not return to the judging panel for the Israel Prize in Literature.
“What Netanyahu did was a most blatant act. When it became clear to me that regardless, so many respected people are refusing to take part in the Israel Prize this year, that means the award really remains damaged,” Margalit told Army Radio on Tuesday.
Last week, the prime minister agreed to comply with the request of Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein not to intervene in the Israel Prize process during the election period.
Weinstein’s instruction came after a week in which Netanyahu was severely criticized in the affair.
His office had rejected Profs. Avner Holtzman and Ariel Hirschfeld for the Literature Prize panel and filmmaker Chaim Sharir for the judge’s panel for the Israel Prize in Film.
The dismissals prompted the remaining members, comprised of leading authors and academics, to resign from the Literature panel, as they decried “the clear politicization of the prize.”
In addition, several noted authors and cultural icons, including Ruth Dayan, Haim Be’er, Sami Michael and David Grossman, withdrew their candidacies for the Literature Prize in protest.