khaled award 311.
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Jerusalem Post reporter Khaled Abu Toameh was awarded the 2011 Abramowitz Prize
for Media Criticism at a festive event held by Israel’s Media Watch at the Beit
Sokolow Journalists’ House in Tel Aviv on Sunday.
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Abu Toameh is the
Palestinian affairs reporter for the Post, and is also a reporter for US News
and World Report and a producer for NBC News.
contributing editor Caroline Glick was also at the award ceremony, accepting a
prize on behalf of the satirical website Latma, which she founded and where she
serves as editor-in-chief.
The site achieved a great deal of publicity in
2010 when a satirical video they released in the wake of the Gaza flotilla,
entitled “We con the World” racked up well over 3 million views.
award comes with a $5,000 prize.
According to the IMW’s website, the
organization’s goal is “strengthening and realizing Israel’s democracy by
informing the Israeli public about Israel’s media, the extent to which they
abide by the media codes of ethics, decency and objectivity in
The award has been given out for the past 11 years, each time
to two individuals or organizations that “made courageous, meaningful, and
quality contributions to the criticism of the media in Israel.”
previous years, this year one winner was decided by an online vote, in which
4,000 users voted. Of the candidates, Latma was far and away the largest
vote-getter. Abu Toameh was chosen by a committee of judges appointed by the
Abu Toameh was presented with his award by former ambassador to the
US Zalman Shoval, who said “Mr. Abu Toameh does not hesitate to tackle extremely
sensitive subjects and exposed nerves within his journalistic realm. Indeed his
life has been threatened.
In addition, he is sharply critical of fellow
journalists who cover the Israeli-Arab conflict and write out of profound
ignorance and even distort the facts.”
In his acceptance speech, Abu
Toameh spoke of how, in his view, being a journalist has changed for Arab
“For more than 25 years I’ve worked in an environment where
journalists like me have faced huge challenges. In this role, a journalist is
supposed to be loyal to his or her peers more than the truth. A journalist who
is not with us must be against us. This has been and remains the main thinking
in our culture.
“But in recent years, we are beginning to see some
positive changes in the Arab media and the attitude towards
A growing number of my Arab colleagues no longer see
themselves as foot soldiers serving the revolution or presidents or kings, or
governments. And a growing number of Arabs are finally beginning to realize the
importance of a free media.”
Abu Toameh also spoke of how he hopes that
the recent uprisings in the Arab world will change the position of media in the
region, saying “as the current uprisings in a number of Arab countries show, the
media can play a large role in promoting democracy and freedom.
happy to see that the Arabs who have taken to the streets of Cairo, Tunis, and
other Arab capitals are not only demanding regime change, many are also
demanding a free media, one that does not serve as a mouthpiece for dictators
and ruling parties. Let’s hope they achieve this goal.”
He also lamented
the lack of a free media in the Palestinian-controlled areas and called on the
international community and western donors to pressure the Palestinian Authority
and Hamas to allow greater media freedom and to stop harassing journalists
working in areas under their jurisdiction.
The award ceremony also
included the awarding of the Israeli Prize for Quality Economic Journalism to
reporter Nechemia Strassler. The prize committee noted
Strassler’s “analytic insight and deep understanding of political economic
issues. His writing is independent and original. He exposes, without fear,
weaknesses of economic policy.”
Finally, the IMW Academic Prize was
awarded to Bar-Ilan University student Maya Ben-Aharon, for her doctoral thesis
entitled “Legitimizing the Use of Force in the First Lebanon War.”
prize committee stated that Ben- Aharon won her award because “her work leads to
a deeper understanding of the manipulation of the public discourse to further
and justify the use of force.”