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Ten honored with Israel’s 59th annual Israel Prize

26.04.2012 18:23  | 

The Israel Prize, the nation's highest accolade, was awarded to ten honorees on Thursday night at the closing ceremony of Israel Independence Day festivities at the Jerusalem International Convention Center, formerly known as Binyanei HaUma.
The ten recipients were:
Prof. David Kashdan for Mathematics and Computer Sciences;
Prof. Shlomo Bentin for Psychology;
Prof. David Milstein for Chemistry and Physics;
Profs. Ruth Katz and Dalia Carni Cohen for Culture, Arts and Musicology;
Prof. Yoav Binyamini for Economics and Statistics;
Natan Shaham for Literature and Hebrew Song; and
Yaakov Ahimeir for Communications.
Life Achievement awards were given to environmentalist Azaria Alon, who was one of the founders of the Society for the Protection of Nature, and educator and former MK Rabbi Haim Drukman. Alon has been listed in the Guinness Book of Records for having the longest running weekly radio program. Alon has been broadcasting for 53 years on Israel Radio's Reshet Bet. Drukman has been engaged in Yeshivot Hesder, bringing Zionist youth to Israel, immigrant absorption and compassionate conversion within the framework of Halacha.
This was the 59th consecutive year in which the prize, which was initiated in 1953 by then Education Minister Ben Zion Dinur, was awarded.
The adjudication of nominees is conducted through the Education Ministry and the Education Minister presents the award in the presence of the President of the State, the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Knesset, the President of the Supreme Court and the Mayor of Jerusalem.
Two of this years recipients made history in areas that are totally unrelated to the fields for which they received their awards.
Milstein was among the paratroopers that repossessed the Temple Mount in the 1967 Six Days War; and Shaham was among the soldiers who raised the ink flag in Eilat in 1948 to signify victory over the Arabs.
Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar presented the citations to all the honorees with the exception of Ahimeir who received his citation from President Shimon Peres.
A huge cheer from the audience arose when Ahimeir's name was announced and there was sustained applause before and after an address that he gave on behalf of all the recipients. He was extremely critical of elected officials for their indifference and their cynicism with regard to the needs of society and the stamping out of corruption. He asked the nation's leaders to give Israelis pride in being able to say they are citizens of Israel.
Ahimeir who has been employed for half a century at the Israel Broadcasting Authority, also talked about Israel's struggle for legitimacy, when no-one is suggesting that countries like Iran and North Korea are lacking in legitimacy. For some reason he said, even intellectuals would like to see Israel disappear from the map and blame Israel for lack of peace in the world.
Immediately after the ceremony, Ahimeir remained on television in a pre-recorded interview with Peres.
Sa'ar in his introductory remarks stressed the importance of greater flexibility on the part of government in providing better education for the hareidi and Arab populations. Many people in the Arab community would like to integrate more into the Israeli mainstream he said, but they have to be given the educational tools for improving the quality of their lives.
It will be good not only for them he said.
It will be good for Israel.
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