Israel’s National Lottery has revoked a prestigious prize after the Land of Israel Legal Forum found “irregularities” in the award process. The main complaint: Chief judge Yossi Sarid is the winning book's editor's uncle.
The Land of Israel Legal Forum last week asked the National Lottery, Mifal HaPayis, to nullify its Sapir Prize for Narrative Literature for this year. The prize had been awarded to Alon Hilu for his book The Dejani Plantation.
The reason for the complaint: The chairman of the prize-awarding committee, former Education Minister Yossi Sarid of the far-left Meretz Party, happened to be the uncle of the book’s editor, Rena Verbin. In addition, the Forum noted, Sarid and Hilu appeared together at several events sponsored by the book’s publisher Yediot Acharonot in honor of their books’ release.
Here's an interesting reaction to this blatant act of nepotism:
"I am shocked and surprised," one of the winners, former Ma'ariv editor Amnon Dankner, told Army Radio on Thursday morning. "I believe what has happened here, contrary to reports, is that the problem is that the editor [of the winning book] is the niece of Yossi Sarid. There was also a problem with another of the judges, Prof. [Ariel] Hirschfeld, because the book he backed was dedicated to him."Even more telling is Ha'aretz's apologetics for the leftist that stumbled:
"I don't think we can hide behind the excuse of being a small country," he said.
"I didn't know about the relationship, though, and I think that really innocent people, like the contestants and the winner, have been harmed by the inappropriate conduct of the members of the judging committee," Dankner said.
"Even if they didn't have any bad intentions, the result is catastrophic and terrible. We all deserve an apology."
It is common knowledge in Israeli society that everything and everyone is corrupt to some degree, and it is just a matter of time and some digging until the sordid truth will be out. It has to be said that that notion is not entirely unfounded, and some of our first and best citizens contributed (and received contributions) for such a notion to prevail. The result is an atmosphere of a righteous hunt for possible miscreants, and each public deed is prone to public scrutiny by innuendos, investigative reports and complaints lodged with the State Comptrollers' office.