Australian Journalist Awarded Zionist Jerusalem Prize
By Sonja Karkar
The following letter was sent to Mr Greg Sheridan, a journalist with Australia’s only national newspaper “The Australian” asking him to reconsider accepting the annual Jerusalem Prize sponsored by the State Zionist Council of NSW, the Zionist Federation of Australia and the World Zionist Organisation.
Frank Levy, president of the State Zionist Council of NSW, said: “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.”
1 May 2007
Dear Mr Sheridan,
It was disturbing to read that as an Australian journalist of our national newspaper, you have been awarded the Zionist Jerusalem Prize for showing leadership in your support of Israel and its ideologies. Implicit in such an award from an influential lobby group is continued loyalty to Israel. From a professional and ethical standpoint, this compromises your objectivity as a journalist. However, there are also other compelling reasons that should give you pause before accepting the prize.
The ideologies associated with the Zionist Jerusalem prize are not ideologies at all consistent with our government’s nine Australian values – care and compassion, fair go, freedom, integrity, doing your best, respect, honesty and trustworthiness, responsibility, understanding, tolerance and inclusion. Zionism is an exclusivist ideology that mandates official, governmental discrimination against non-Jews in the state of Israel, and whether apologists for Israel like it or not, this makes Israel an apartheid state. Its policies and actions have consistently been formulated and driven to bring about an exclusively Jewish state, currently at the expense of some 5 million indigenous Palestinians. And, the shocking human disaster in the Israeli-Occupied Palestinian Territories is a blatant example of those racist policies.
Every act that Israel justifies to consolidate its existence as a Jewish state is an act of ethnic cleansing. It’s been going on for 60 years and has taken many malevolent forms– dispossession, displacement, occupation, colonisation and apartheid. Yet, the Palestinians are still there waiting for the justice long owed them. It is difficult to see how any journalist committed to truth could ignore the violent realities on the ground and not question Israel’s intentions as it becomes increasingly obvious that this mass of humanity has nowhere left to go. Perhaps the truth is too awful to contemplate.
All in all, there is nothing about Israel that equates with the common democratic way of life in Australia and certainly nothing that suggests it is built on the cornerstones of equality, freedom, inclusion and the rule of law. A Zionist organization that gives a Zionist prize to a journalist for supporting a Zionist state should give us all pause. The Australian public needs to hear the truth from journalists who are independent and respect the public trust. Once journalists allow themselves to be compromised, that cannot happen. The integrity of journalism in Australia would benefit greatly from you not accepting the prize. On behalf of Women for Palestine, I urge you to reconsider.
Women for Palestine
Sonja Karkar is a member of the Deir Yassin Remembered Board of Advisers.