Giving the Israel Prize
Giving the Israel PrizeFlash 90

The Makor Rishon Hebrew-language newspaper has created its own alternative to the Israel prize in honor of Independence Day.

Arutz Sheva has done the same for the past several years, awarding the Jerusalem Prize at the annual Jerusalem Conference.

Among the honorees chosen by Makor Rishon are Ze'ev Chever (Zambish), Dr. Eli Shussheim, Rabbi Tzvi Rimon, and Rabbi Menachem Froman.

The Israel Prize has become controversial due to the fact that the winners are primarily secular Israeli men. In addition, the list of winners has included many who have drawn controversy for their extreme-left views, such as Amos Oz, who expressed support for such Arab figures as imprisoned arch-terrorist Marwan Barghouti, and Professor Zev Sternhell, who advocated Israel “storm Ofra with tanks,” and has called on terrorists to target Jews in Judea and Samaria.

The Supreme Court upheld the decision to award the prize to Sternhell. Years earlier, activist judge Justice Aharon Barak had disqualified Israel Prize winner Shmuel Shnitzer, a journalist and publicist, over his publication in 1994 of an article in which he argued that many in the second wave arrivals from Ethiopia practiced religions other than Judaism, which was true, and carried dangerous diseases – statements that Barak rejected as racist.

This year, a different panel of Supreme Court justices ruled that it is not the court's place to interfere in Israeli Prize committee decisions.

Alternative Israel Prize Winners
Winner of the Alternative Israel Prize was Yossi Langotzki, who has won two prizes for his contributions to state security. He was chosen for his unceasing efforts to look for oil and natural gas off Israel's coast, despite many failures and obstacles. A major gas field has been discovered off the shore of Haifa, thanks in large part to his efforts.

Langotzki lost his shares in the project shortly before it succeeded. His work is expected to have a major positive financial impact on the entire country.

Rabbanit Chana Henkin, a long-time Torah teacher and founder of the Nishmat school of advanced Torah study for women, was chosen for her establishment of the Yoatzot Halacha program, which trains women to answer questions in the field of family law.

Professor Gerald Steingberg of Bar Ilan University was chosen for his contribution to human rights. In addition to his lectures and research on a variety of topics in the field of international relations, he is the president of NGO-Monitor, an organization that holds NGOs accountable by providing information and analysis on their activities. The group recently helped debunk accusations of Israeli war crimes that had reached the United Nations.

Izzy Shiratzki, head of the company Ituran, was selected for investing his time and his personal wealth in improving life for residents of the upper Galilee.

Ze'ev Chever (Zambish) was chosen for his contribution to Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria. He has headed the Amanah settlement organization since 1989. “He is a prime example of someone who has dedicated his life to building in Judea and Samaria,” and deserves much credit for the rapid growth of Jewish communities in the region, Makor Rishon said.

Dr. Eli Shussheim is the director of Efrat, an organization that seeks to prevent unnecessary abortions by offering needy pregnant women emotional support and financial assistance. The organization was established by a Holocaust survivor who lost his family with the goal of encouraging Jewish births.

Shussheim has headed the organization for 27 years, and in that time, the group has seen 28,000 babies born to women who agreed not to abort with Efrat's help. “We have dealt with tens of thousands of cases over the years, and I have never met a woman who regrets not having had an abortion,” Shussheim says.

Rabbi Menachem Froman was selected for an award for his life's work. Rabbi Froman, of Tekoa, is known for his unique approach to religion and to the land of Israel. He is committed to both Jewish life in the land of Israel, including Judea and Samaria, and to peace with Arabs and with the Palestinian Authority. His approach is described by Makor Rishon as “an existential renessaince and neo-chassidism.”

Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Rimon was chosen in the “Torah v'Avoda” (Torah and labor) category for his work with Jobkatif (Taasukatif), an organization that has helped more than 2,200 Jews expelled from Gaza in the 2005 Disengagement to find work.

Makor Rishon explained, “Rabbi Rimon's work for the organization is done on a voluntary basis, alongside his many Torah lectures and the user-friendly books on Jewish law that he produces with impressive frequency... Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Rimon serves as an example, through his work in Torah and on behalf of the public, of the natural connection that should exist between the world of Torah and the world of social activism.”