Opposing the winner, education minister to skip Israel Prize ceremony at her office

Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton will skip the presentation in her own office of the Israel Prize to a professor from whom she tried to deny the medal over his alleged support for anti-Israel boycotts, Hebrew media reported Sunday.

Mathematician Prof. Oded Goldreich is to receive the prize at the Education Ministry on Monday.

Ministry officials already told Goldreich last Friday that Shasha-Biton will not be at the event, Haaretz reported. The minister was given a legal opinion that it is within her right di lei to back out of the ceremony.

Instead, the honor will be handed over by David Felber, who, as head of the National Service Division, is the person in charge of the prizes.

Though the prize is usually awarded during a public ceremony on Israel’s Independence Day, Goldreich waived that honor and is to receive the prize at the ministry instead. This year’s Independence Day falls on May 5.

Shasha-Biton was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Sunday and would have had to miss the award event anyway due to being in quarantine.

Oded Goldreich (CC BY-SA 3.0) / Wikipedia)

At the end of last month, the High Court of Justice ruled that Shasha-Biton must hand over the prize to Goldreich following a petition against her refusal, filed by the members of the prize committee that had initially awarded the honor to the professor.

Shasha-Biton said at the time that she regretted the justices’ decision but would respect it. She noted that since the court had previously said the education minister should decide the matter, it should have respected her decision di lei.

“A person who calls for a boycott of an Israeli academic institution is not worthy of a state prize, no matter what his achievements or political views are,” she said.

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