Genesis Prize, named as the “Jewish Nobel,” cut ties with the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Office in order to keep the award from being seen as political.
Benjamin Netanyahu is charged in three corruption cases, marking the first time a sitting Israeli prime minister has been indicted.
Since the time the annual awarding prize was founded in 2013, the organization faces some embracing moments regarding its connection to Netanyahu’s administration.
In 2019, a month after receiving the Genesis Prize award, the winner Robert Kraft, the New England Patriots owner, was charged with soliciting a prostitute as part of a series of human trafficking. The case is ongoing. One of the prize’s advisory board resigned in protest after it decided to move forward with giving Kraft the award.
In 2018, the Genesis Prize Foundation was forced to cancel its ceremony in Jerusalem after the Israel-born star Natalie Portman, the winner of the prize said she would not come to Israel because she does not want to appear “as endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu.”
On Monday, the partners in the award: the Prime Minister’s Office, the Genesis Prize Foundation and the Jewish Agency for Israel announced that Netanyahu’s Office was leaving the partnership.
The Genesis Prize founded by three Russian-Jewish oligarchs Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven, and German Khan, gives $1 million to prominent Jews “for their professional accomplishments, commitment to Jewish values, and contribution to improving the world.”
Past recipients include former violinist Yitzhak Perlman, New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, and actor Michael Douglas.
According to the joint statement “Despite the efforts of the partners to create a non-political award that unites the Jewish people, some have incorrectly interpreted the participation of the Office of the Prime Minister in the Genesis Prize as bringing a political dimension to this important initiative. This is the opposite of what the founders of the Prize intended.”
Natan Sharansky, the former Israeli politician and prominent leader of the Soviet Jewry emigration movement, would receive the 2020 prize award.