“Eliav-Sartawi Pioneers of Peace Journalism Prizes Awarded” By J. Zel Lurie, 11/15/06
I was at the United Nations early this month awarding the Search for Common Ground journalism prizes to three reporters, who, in the opinion of the judges, had advanced the cause of conciliation and peace in the international, Hebrew and Arab press in 2006. I started these prizes a dozen years ago in an attempt to get better articles into the Hebrew and Arabic press. I named them the Eliav-Sartawi Pioneers of Peace journalism prizes to honor two of my heroes, Lova Eliav and Issam Sartawi, who began talking about peace over 30 years ago in secret meetings in Europe when peace was a dirty word in Israel and Palestine.
I added a third prize for an article published in the American press on the advice of Ambassador Sam Lewis. “You are an American,” Amb. Lewis told me. I felt that an American prize was somewhat redundant. Unlike the Arab press and most of the Hebrew media, American reporters and editors did not need encouragement to write favorably about Peace Now and similar movements. When Search for Common Ground took over the prizes they wisely changed it to an international prize.
This year the international prize was won by Simone Korkus, a Belgian journalist who wrote a superb article on how former Israeli and Palestinian fighters had gotten together to form an organization called “Soldiers for Peace.”
The Hebrew prize was won by Bradley Burston of Haaretz. Burston, who was born in the United States, came to the UN with his lovely wife, Varda. In his acceptance speech Burston expressed my hope in starting these prizes that, despite everything, people on both sides who want peace, even if they have lost their belief in it, can triumph in the end, over their own leaders, over their own grief, over their own very profound pain.
Burston’s moving address was followed a week later in Tel Aviv by Israeli novelist, David Grossman at a mass meeting attended by a hundred thousand Israelis to mark the 11th anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, Grossman, who lost a son in the recent war in Lebanon said: “I am totally secular, yet in my eyes the establishment and the very existence of the State of Israel is a miracle. Even when many things in the reality of our lives enrage and depress me, even when reality seems like nothing but a poor parody of this miracle, I always remember.”
Grossman demanded that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert not wait a single day in responding positively, instead of the negative response he uttered to Syrian hints that they begin talking. Grossman said: “When you launched the last war (in Lebanon) you did not wait one hour. You charged with full force, with the complete arsenal, with full power of destruction. Why, when a glimmer of peace surfaces must you reject it immediately?”
Last week Olmert went to Washington. He talked about war with Iran, not peace with Syria in his public statements. Iran has been using Syria to help Hezbollah and Hamas with oodles of cash and sophisticated arms. The big-mouthed little president of Iran has threatened Israel’s destruction. The United States and Israel can thwart Iranian threats by detaching Syria from Iran.
I hope that secret discussions are going on in Washington on how best to talk to Syria. As the New York Times editorialized on November 15: “This is no time to invent more reasons for not talking to Syria.”
Meanwhile a pollster asked Israelis who was best to deal with foreign policy. Olmert received six percent of those polled. Other ministers got two percent. All of 31 percent answered “NONE OF THE ABOVE,” even though this option was not listed.