Communist Professor Will Receive Israel Prize, Supreme Court Rules

Israel’s Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton must award the Israel Prize to a professor who supports the struggle against occupation of the Palestinian territories. A petition against Shasha-Biton’s decision was filed by the members of the prize committee that had initially awarded the honor to mathematician Prof. Oded Goldreich, a researcher at the Weizmann Institute of Science.

Goldreich welcomed the ruling and said he hopes the development “will correct some of the tremendous damage this matter has caused to freedom of speech and the prestige of the Israel Prize.”

Prof. Oded Goldreich and Prof. Dana Ron (Photo: Weizmann Institute of Science)

The ruling – which was given by High Court Judge Yael Vilner and supported by Judge Yitzhak Amit, with Judge Noam Solberg dissenting – overturns Shasha Biton’s decision to follow her predecessor Yoav Gallant’s (Likud) decision not to award Goldreich the prize, contrary to the prize committee’s unanimous decision in March 2021. This was the second time the case came before the High Court. 

After Tuesday’s ruling, Shasha-Biton released a statement saying that although she disagreed with the Court decision to force her to give Goldreich the prize, she will “respect it.” “This is a dark day for Zionism and for the judicial system,” said Alon Schvartzer, a leading member of the fascist Im Tirtzu movement, in response to the decision.