Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton (New Hope) on Monday announced that she would not intervene in the decision of her predecessor Yoav Gallant (Likud) to deny the Israel Prize to pro-BDS Weizmann Institute professor Oded Goldreich, Kan 11 News reported (סערת פרס ישראל: שאשא-ביטון לא תתערב בהחלטת גלנט).
The Israel Prize is an award bestowed by the State of Israel and regarded as the state’s highest cultural honor.
The fate of the award will now be decided by the High Court of Justice, which will adjudicate the petition filed by the Israel Prize selection committee against the decision to deny the prize to Goldreich.
The initial decision to take away the award from Goldreich came after Im Tirtzu had discovered that Goldreich signed a petition on March 23 calling for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions in Judea and Samaria.
Im Tirtzu also revealed that Goldreich signed a 2019 letter calling on the German government to reject its historic resolution equating BDS with anti-Semitism.
The watchdog group also noted that Goldreich has a long history of anti-Zionist activity, which includes signing a petition encouraging the United Methodist Church to divest from “companies that enable the occupation to continue”; accusing Israel of the “slaughter of large numbers of wholly innocent people” in Gaza; and signing a petition in “support and appreciation” of students and lecturers who illegally refused to carry out their IDF service in Judea & Samaria.
Attorney Michael Sfarad, who represents Goldreich, responded to the decision, saying: “I thought this was a government of change that would bring about a change in attitude towards those who criticize the government’s policy. But the decision of Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton shows that the evil spirits that were blowing in previous governments and that punished ‘leftism’ remain unchanged. It’s a pity. It shows that there is no change and that the McCarthyist spirit continues to dominate the halls of the Education Ministry. We will continue to fight using the relevant legal means.”
Im Tirtzu welcomed the decision and congratulated Education Minister Shasha-Biton, saying that “there is not a single logical reason for the state to extol and glorify a citizen who works to slander it around the world – no matter how good he is at math, poetry, or even gardening.”
“We need to embrace those who take part in building the country and society, not those who work to destroy it,” Im Tirtzu continued. “This decision is a victory for common sense and for all those who cherish the State of Israel.”