Former government minister David Levy, “a social fighter for the weaker sectors of the population,” and Miriam Peretz, who lost two sons in combat, are among the recipients of this year’s prestigious Israel Prize.
The State of Israel has awarded the Israel Prize, considered the Jewish state’s highest honor, to Miriam Peretz, who lost two sons in battle and continues to inspire and educate the next generation, and David Levy, who rose from the lower ranks of society to gain a senior political position.
“I congratulate David Levy and Miriam Peretz on their winning the Israel Prize which they so richly deserve in light of their achievements and their abiding commitment to our state,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated following the announcement on Thursday.
Levy will be awarded the Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement and Special Contribution to Society on April 18, when Israel celebrates its 70th Independence Day.
Announcing Levy’s upcoming prize, Education Minister Naftali Bennett described him as “the boy who made Aliyah from Rabat, Morocco, to the ma’abara (refugee absorption camp) and the development town and then blazed a trail straight into the heart of Israeli society.”
Levy, 80, a father of 12, made Aliyah in 1957 and was elected to the Knesset in 1969. It was an era when the political establishment was dominated by the Ashkenazi elites. Levy, one of the first Sephardim to attain a senior government position, became absorption minister in 1977, when former Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s Likud party defeated Labor for the first time since the establishment of the Jewish state.
The Israel Prize committee described Levy as “a social fighter for the weaker sectors of the population, a workers’ leader and a representative of the development towns and the periphery.”
Levy represents “the essence of the story of Zionism, the one who shattered the glass ceiling,” Bennett said.
Peretz is to be awarded the Israel Prize for strengthening the Jewish-Israeli spirit.
Her son Uriel, then 22, was killed while serving as commander of the IDF Golani Special Forces Unit fighting Hezbollah in Lebanon in 1998. Eliraz, 32, a father of four children and a major in the Golani brigade fighting terrorists in Gaza, was killed in 2010.
Peretz, 64, who was born in Morocco and moved to Israel at the age of 10, was also chosen to light one of the torches at the annual Independence Day ceremony four years ago.
“The Israeli Prize has been awarded to Miriam Peretz, an educator who has lost two of her sons. Ever since, Peretz has dedicated her life to education and instilling the Jewish and Zionist legacy by lecturing to teenagers and IDF soldiers and visiting communities abroad.
“Moreover, Miriam assists bereaved families and wounded IDF soldiers. She is a symbol of the Jewish and Israeli spirit and is a symbol and shining example of giving and helping others,” the Prize committee said.
“Miriam Peretz, who lost her sons, has devoted her life to educational work. Miriam did not choose the harsh circumstances of her life, but chose to live and thus revived an entire people. She’s the mother of us all,” Bennett stated.