A public organization, funded by state funds, including the Foreign Ministry, is behind the agreement to sell the global translation rights to a book written by the new prime minister's wife, Lehi Lapid.
Last week it was announced that an agreement had been signed for the sale of the translation rights to Lapid's book, "Zarot" (Keter Publishing), to English and other languages.
It was the largest American publishing house, Harper Collins, that acquired the book's translation rights.
According to estimates in the book market, the volume of the deal reaches at least $ 100,000, and it is considered significant in Israeli industry.
Although ostensibly a transaction between private parties, the institution that promoted and brokered the agreement is the "Israeli Institute of Hebrew Literature" - a public association whose entire budgetary sources come from the government, and a significant portion of them from the Foreign Ministry.
"Moved away like fire": Lehi Lapid, Photo: Efrat Eshel
A few months ago, a contract was signed between Lehi Lapid and the institute, which serves as an agent around the world.
The institute is the one that drafted the deal with Harper Collins, and among other things placed Lapid's book in first place in his catalog ahead of the London Book Fair - where translation rights were offered for sale.
This was done while Yair Lapid was serving as foreign minister.
It is important to note that there are a variety of private agencies that promote Israeli literature abroad, and many agencies around the world that represent writers from Israel, and Lapid had the opportunity to try and contact an agency that does not rely on state funds.
First of 22 writers
The "Israeli Institute of Hebrew Literature" was established in the 1960s by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the aim of promoting Israeli literature around the world.
Until a few years ago, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was the one that directly funded the activity.
In the last decade, most of the government funding comes from the Ministry of Culture, but between the three bodies - the Institute, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture - direct and permanent working relations continue to exist.
The first in the book catalog.
Lehi Lapid and her book, Photo: From the catalog
"Foreign relations in culture are made in coordination and cooperation with the Department of Culture and Science (KASHOM) Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is responsible for bi-national general agreements in the fields of culture, science and education," the Ministry of Culture's website said. The Institute for Translation.
According to documents from the Registrar of Associations, the Ministry of Culture's support for the institute is about one million shekels a year, which is about half of its budget.
In addition, the State Department pays the Institute substantial refunds against activity.
One of the projects funded by the State Department is international book fairs.
For example, in October 2021, the Foreign Ministry funded the institute's activities at the Frankfurt Book Fair for NIS 350,000.
London Book Fair, Photo: GettyImages
Also in April 2022 an international book fair was held, this time in London.
In preparation for this fair, the "Israeli Institute of Hebrew Literature" has published a new catalog.
Lapid's book, called "On Her Own" in the catalog, was presented in the catalog in first place out of 22 books - before equally respected authors, to say the least, such as Eli Amir and Sami Bardugo.
"Leahy moved away like fire"
The institute's promotion efforts were successful - and as a result, an agreement was reached between the institute, Lapid and Harper Collins, with some of the transaction proceeds also going to the institute's coffers.
It should be noted that Harper Collins is one of the largest book publishers in the world, with an international layout and headquarters in New York and London.
Lehi Lapid said last week in response to the agreement that she is "very excited that my book, which is both personal but also so Israeli, will reach people around the world and tell our story here."
Israel Today, however, learned that the wife of the then foreign minister was aware of the many problems involved in promoting her book by an institute funded by state funds.
Sigalit Gelfand, director general of the Israel Institute of Hebrew Literature, confirmed the details in a conversation with Israel Today, and even admitted that she and Lapid were aware of the problematic nature of her representation at the institute. That there will be no contact with the Foreign Ministry.
"The institute is a completely independent association, which sometimes wins tenders from the State Department," Gelfand says.
"If there is one thing that Lahia Lapid said is that she does not want anything to do with the Foreign Ministry. The book has been rigorously tested and found suitable by people who have nothing to do with the government or the Foreign Ministry. "There was nothing to do with this book and Leahy walked away from the office like wildfire. We work in a completely clean way."
"Alienation". Lapid's book, Photo: None
However, Gelfand admitted that both she and Lapid understood that the agreement between them could be problematic.
"Both Lehi and I do not close our eyes. Therefore, the agreement with her was examined at all levels, even by lawyers, because she was the wife of the foreign minister. But is it relevant to the reader? Legally and publicly, this arrangement is correct."
"In the end everything is paid out of the same pocket"
Sources involved in the details rejected Gelfand's words and told "Israel Today" that "even if there was no direct funding from the Foreign Ministry for the fair in London, in the end everything is paid out of the same pocket. The institute hired people to read the book and write an opinion on it. The institute was the one that prepared the catalog and put Lihi Lapid at the top. "It may be kosher, but it must stink."
Another source noted the fact that in Israel and around the world, private agencies operate to promote and market the translation of Hebrew literature.
"It is not clear why Lapid chose to use the state - funded institute when she knew it was problematic and had other options."
Did not respond to a request for comment.
Yair Lapid, Photo: Yehuda Ben Itach
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated: "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not a support body for the Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature (The Israeli Institute of Hebrew Literature). The agreement was made privately by Leahy Lapid and the firm representing it, according to all the rules and after an in-depth legal examination as required. "The Ministry of Culture and Sports stated:" The Israeli Institute of Hebrew Literature "By the Ministry of Culture and Sports on the basis of equal support tests. The ministry has no authority to interfere in the professional decisions of the institute, and therefore does not participate in any way in the discussion or selection of the book in question, or any other book."
Prime Minister Lapid did not respond.
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