Radical leftists in Tel Aviv (illustration0
Radical leftists in Tel Aviv (illustration0Flash 90

The saga of Mifal Hapayis' (Israel's official state lottery) Landau Prize being given to radical leftist poet Yitzhak Laor appears to have finally reached a conclusion, after the Landau Fund Directorate stepped in on Monday morning and cancelled Laor's prize for good.

There has been a popular uproar at the decision to award the radical poet with the 100,000 shekel (over $25,000) prize.

Landau Prize committee judge Gilit Chomsky - who opposed the initial selection of Laor which was forced through anyway - resigned in protest on Sunday as the committee was set to return the prize after having temporarily cancelled it, effectively disbanding the committee and forcing the Directorate to step in.

The temporary decision to cancel the prize was made last week after several women leveled charges against Laor of sexually assaulting and abusing them over the years - a police complaint was even filed in 2010 although it wasn't investigated due to the statute of limitations, reports Yedioth Aharonoth.

Laor called the sexual assault charges against him to cancel the prize a "blood libel," a remarkably ironic choice of words given that in a poem called “Anthem to the 'Gush,'” Laor previously invoked the infamous "blood libel" against the “knitted kippah” religious Zionists.

The other two judges on the three-person Landau Prize committee aside from Chomsky - Aminadav Dikman and Joshua Simon - announced ahead of a reconvention of the committee to discuss whether to return the prize to Laor that they would support doing so, at which Chomsky quit the committee.

As a result, no Landau Prize in poetry will be presented at the lottery's 2014 awards held in Yafo on Thursday.

The Legal Forum for Israel welcomed the Directorate's decision to cancel the award, with forum secretary general Nahi Eyal releasing a statement.

"Laor is not suitable for a prize from public monies. The complaints submitted against him stain him, and his actions against the state and against the IDF would have humiliated Mifal Hapayis," said Eyal. "We are happy that the Directorate understood the awful incompatibility in giving a prize to a poet unworthy of it."

When the prize was first announced Chairman of the Legal Forum for Israel Attorney Yossi Fuchs wrote a letter of protest to Major General (res.) Uzi Dayan, Mifal Hapayis Chairman, noting that Laor is a member of anti-Israeli organizations, and an IDF service refuser.

"Is it feasible,” he asked, “that Mifal Hapayis, which was established to advance Israel's society and community, will give the Landau prize to a man who sees Israel as 'the last bastion of colonialism in the world'?”

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 US and a huge army hungering to justify its existence." 

And in his poem “Anthem to the 'Gush,'” Laor wrote:

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.