The Israel Prize Affair (2021-2022)

Archive by Oded Goldreich

In February 2021, the Israel Award committee for Mathematics and Computer Science decided to recommend bestowing the award on Oded Goldreich (OG). The Minister of Education asked the committee to reconsider its decision due OG's political activity, and after the committee reconfirmed its decision, making it final, the minister refused to accept it.

The committee appealed to the Supreme Court (on March 30), which, in a controversial decision (given on April 8), allowed the minister to reconsider the issue, and respond by 8-May-2021. On June 20, after several postponements, the minister published a final negative decision, but on July 22 the government legal adviser notified the court that - in his opinion - the minister's decision is unreasonable and unjustified from a legal point of view. On Aug 12, the court unanimously accepted the latter opinion, and asked the (new) minister to take a new decision based on the principles outlined in its ruling.

On Nov 18, the new education minister decided negatively, causing the award committee to appeal to the Supreme Court again (on 24-Nov-21). The hearing took place on 24-Feb-22, and the verdict was published on 29-Mar-22. The bottom-line was that the court instructed the minister to approve the committee's recommendation. On 11-Apr-22, the award was presented to OG.

See OG's report [in Hebrew] of the entire affair, main documentation, some published opinions, and news reports.

A lightly annotated time-table

(The record of the events taking place in February and March is reproduced based on the committee's appeal to the Supreme Court (actually, the correct terms is file a petition to the Supreme Court sitting as a High Court of Justice.) (The minister is supposed to formally announce the decision, which is to be kept secret till that announcement. By law, he can refuse to do so only in extreme circumstances.) (The awards were to be handed in a public ceremony that was to take place on April 15th, according to the by-laws.) (The rest of the story is implicit in the news reports listed below. Still it may be useful to spell it out.)

Related material (in Hebrew unless stated differently)

NOTE: The archive contains only documents and articles (published between 10-Mar-21 and 13-Apr-22) that I found useful for myself. In particular, I only followed publications in Haaretz and read some other articles that were referred to me by friends. In addition, I vividly recall deciding not to include two hostile opinions by legal scholars, since one was avoiding the facts and the other was avoiding the law. Of course, there were many more hostile opinions, mostly published at other news outlets, raising arguments that I addressed in Section 3.3 of my report and in my additional comments.

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