Shock at Prize to Leftist Blood Libel Poem Author

Former chairman of the Hebrew Writers Association criticizes decision to award Landau prize to radical leftist poet Yitzhak Laor.

Benny Toker, Cynthia Blank,

(file)
(file)
Reuters

Balfour Hakak, former chairman of the Hebrew Writers Association, told Arutz Sheva that Mifal Hapayis' (Israel's official state lottery) decision to award the Landau Prize for Arts and Sciences in the poetry category to radical leftist poet Yitzhak Laor is "surprising." 

Laor, a controversial figure and writer, has expressed vitriolically anti-Zionist stances both in his poetry and prose work.

In a 2011 essay for leftist newspaper Haaretz, Laor called to get rid of Zionism, writing, "Liberation from Zionism is not a dirty word. In any case, what lies behind Zionism nowadays are interests related to water, real estate, strategic relations with the U.S. and a huge army hungering to justify its existence." 

And in in a poem called “Anthem to the 'Gush,'” Laor invoked the infamous "blood libel" against the “knitted kippah” religious Zionists:

And our holiday of freedom, this holiday of matzos, we celebrate with conviction in sanctity and with addictive body movements, and in our matzos is the blood of Palestinian youths, because these are all libels by idolaters anyway.

Attorney Yossi Fuchs, Chairman of the Legal Forum for Israel, has already sent a letter of protest to Major General (res.) Uzi Dayan, Mifal Hapayis Chairman, upon learning that Laor was the recipient of the prize.

"I consider myself a poet and a human, and I have been involved in evaluation committees for awards several times," Hakak said in his interview.

"It really bothered me that judges decided to give him the award with only a 2 to 1 majority vote. In my experience, we always decided that with literature prizes, it is necessary to choose a unanimous winner." 

"There is a bitter taste here that the decision was made to award the prize despite the opposition of one judge - author, Gilit Chomsky. It is not appropriate that two men against one woman decided to give the prize." 

"There should be a sense of harmony and consensus when it comes to providing a literary prize," Hakak stressed again. "Especially here, when there has been intense criticism of Yitzhak Laor." 

Hakak also claims Yitzhak Laor excluded right-wing writers for years, refusing to publish their poetry in his literary journal Mita'am. 

"Yitzhak Laor, as an editor, disenfranchised writers and humanities scholars with right-wing beliefs. His journal always had a left political bent, and he has not accepted works from me and from others throughout the years. He made a clear political bias and exclusion in his journal." 

According to Hakak, even the mainstream left considers Laor too extreme. "He is indeed a poet, but his writing is so sharply political, and often too extreme, especially when he writes about Palestinian blood." 




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