Shlomo Artzi to forgo Israel Prize, says time not right when Israel ‘hurt and torn’


The popular singer Shlomo Artzi announced on Sunday that he is refusing the Israel Prize this year, citing intense societal divisions over the government’s controversial legislation to overhaul the judicial system.

In a statement, Artzi, 73, said that “right now, when our country is hurt and torn,” he felt very uncomfortable receiving the award and would “give up this great honor.”

The annual award — considered Israel’s highest cultural honor — is presented to a range of Israelis on Independence Day, in a ceremony attended by the prime minister, the president and the speaker of the Knesset.

The Ministry of Education, which selects the prize recipients, said it would instead honor 78-year-old Mizrahi singer Yossi Levi, better known as Daklon, with this year’s Israel Prize for Hebrew Music.

In a statement, the ministry noted that its committee had given the prize to “another candidate in the field of Hebrew music” but that the person “chose not to accept the prize, and the committee respects his decision. “

Artzi, one of Israel’s most famous musicians, said while observing the ongoing protests across the nation, “I am trembling throughout my body and soul because I am full of fear of the split, the split, the brokenness that affected us. in.”

Israeli singer Shlomo Artzi performs at Park Hayarkon in Tel Aviv on July 2, 2015. (Moshe Shai/ Flash90)

He asked Israel’s political leaders to “stop, talk [to each other] and the land will be quiet.”

The singer-songwriter said he has been “singing for 50 years for everyone,” regardless of their political, religious or ethnic backgrounds. “To be part of Israel’s soundtrack – that’s the real prize I’ve won.”

Artzi summed up his statement by saying that instead of the prize, he wants to get “a loving, inclusive democratic Israel for which I have sung my whole life.”

Last year, the Israel Prize for music was awarded to songwriter Avihu Medina, who wrote many of the country’s most popular Mizrahi songs, including for singer Zohar Argov.

This year’s awards also include three lifetime achievement honorees: Amnon Shashua, president and CEO of Mobileye; Rachel Haber, chairman of the Matnat Chaim kidney donation organization; and Druze author and former Likud MK Amal Nasser el-Din.

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