The Shmooze

Knighthood, Israeli Style

By Nathan Burstein

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Shimon Peres has won so many prizes that he’s ready to start giving his own.

Israel’s president has announced the creation of the President’s Award, a new honor intended to serve as the Israeli equivalent of a British knighthood, the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom and the French Legion of Honor. The prize is for individuals and organizations who’ve made “exceptional contributions to the state of Israel or humanity,” as Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot described it last week.

Yediot Aharonot couldn’t help but poke a little fun at the prize, headlining its article “Knights of the Order of Peres.” Israel’s ninth president, who will turn 88 next month, is himself a knight, having received the honor from Queen Elizabeth. He is also a member of the Legion of Honor (not to mention a Nobel Prize winner).

Peres has already assembled a selection committee to confer the award — members include a number of academics, as well as former Israeli President Yitzhak Navon and Meir Shamgar, a former head of the country’s supreme court.

The prize is open to both Israelis and foreigners.


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