New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will use the $1 million awarded to him as recipient of the inaugural Genesis Prize to “promote commerce between the people in Palestine and the people in Israel,” the billionaire announced.
Speaking at an official Hanukkah party on the evening of December 2, Bloomberg pronounced himself perplexed by the award, created last year, which is meant to honor an exceptional Jew.
“For some reason that nobody can figure out — at least I can’t — I will be honored to receive the first Genesis Prize,” Bloomberg said.
Bloomberg said that he had already informed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose office is an official backer of the Genesis Prize program, of his intention to use the award to boost trade between Israelis and Palestinians.
“We have to find some way that everybody can get along in that space or it won’t end nicely for anybody,” Bloomberg said.
The prize was funded by the Russian businessmen who back the Genesis Philanthropy Group. A separate organization created to award the prize, called the Genesis Prize Foundation, is led by Wayne Firestone, the former president and CEO of Hillel International.
Josh Nathan-Kazis is a staff writer for the Forward. He covers charities and politics, and writes investigations and longform.