Monday, May 7, 2007

Prizes for Supporting Israel?

Mr. Sheridan's Strange Award


"Every now and then, journalists who have shown excellence in their work are rewarded. A prize that recognises their investigative skills and critical thinking is a worthy achievement; a prize that rewards them for using their profession to "conspicuously" support a foreign state in conflict, is not. Rather, it raises questions about their impartiality, good judgment and integrity. Their professionalism can no longer be trusted.

It happened in Australia this past week. Greg Sheridan, billed as "the most influential foreign affairs analyst in Australian journalism" by his newspaper "The Australian" was awarded the annual Jerusalem Prize by the State Zionist Council of NSW. According to its president Frank Levy, "The prize is awarded to someone who fosters and supports the state of Israel and its ideologies, the concept of the Jewish homeland and the Jewish community, particularly in Australia."

Sheridan saw nothing wrong in accepting the prize, but many Australians did.....

For an experienced foreign affairs journalist, Sheridan shows an amazing reluctance to examine the realities of Israel's "democracy" at work. His article relies on the same old and now-debunked myths and arguments that no self-respecting journalist ought to employ. Even if Sheridan is convinced that "Israel is a democracy in good standing" he ought to be asking for whom? Israel has made no secret of its intention to be a Jewish state only, so it is no wonder that Israel's 1.2 million Palestinian citizens ­ the survivors and descendants of the 1948 Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine--see themselves increasingly isolated and alienated from Israeli society. It won't be long before Israel will have to declare its hand: is it "a state of the Jewish people throughout the world" as it defines itself, or a state of all its citizens, both Jewish and non-Jewish? Perhaps Sheridan sees this as yet another issue that must be left for Israel's "vibrant, genuine problem-solving democracy" to solve. In the meantime, Sheridan should indeed congratulate himself on the "great honour" of being awarded the Jerusalem Prize for no other reason than having supported Israel so "conspicuously"."

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