We do indeed live in interesting times.
In 2011, an award for political journalism bearing the name of a Zionist, namely the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, went to anti-Zionist journalist Jonathan Cook. (You can see my series of posts on Gellhorn by clicking on the label below.)
Now, an award for political journalism bearing the name of an anti-Zionist, namely the Orwell Prize, has just gone to Zionist journalist Jonathan Freedland.
Stranger still, while Cook, one of the best journalists around on the subject of Palestine, was at least awarded his Gellhorn Prize for exposing "establishment propaganda" (in his case of the Zionist variety), Freedland's Orwell Prize was awarded, not for the content of his writing (which, as far as Palestine/Israel is concerned, invariably reduces to apologetics for the Zionist project) but for the "lucidity and elegance of his style." (Two Guardian journalists win Orwell prize for journalism, Martin Williams, theguardian.com, 22/5/14)
One can only imagine what Orwell himself would have thought about the awarding of an Orwell Prize for style alone. Still, it could have been worse. Imagine this Zionist apologist receiving an award for his content on the issue of Palestine/Israel.
To illustrate, take his July 18, 2012 article for the New Statesman, Yearning for the same land, essentially a defence of political Zionism:
Freedland here plays the game of Good Zionist vs Bad Zionist, contrasting what he calls "left-leaning Zionists who believe the original movement's goal was the liberation of people, not land," with "hawkish Zionists, heirs of Vladimir Jabotinsky, who are territorial maximalists, eager to fly the Israeli flag over the West Bank."
It's the former, he maintains, who are "the true Zionists," those who are "eager to see territory now occupied by Israel ceded [?] to become sovereign Palestinian land." Freedland, of course, places himself in the camp of the Zionist angels, if I may be allowed an oxymoron.
To assert, as he does, that the goal of the Zionist angels (LOL) was never really the acquisition of Palestinian land, when they, in collaboration with the followers of Jabotinsky, ethnically cleansed 78% of Palestine in 1948, regardless of the borders proposed by the 1947 UN partition plan, and stole all the Palestinian land they could lay their blood-stained hands on, is simply risible.
He defends the Zionist bulldozing of the cosmopolitan, multi-sectarian Palestine of old by trotting out the boilerplate dogma of his "socialist-Zionist youth": the Jews are a "people," and as such "have a right to self-determination in the historic land of their birth."
Freedland's Zionist sleight of hand is transparent: Jews are not what they so indubitably are - a diverse (because of a past history of conversion) faith community originating in the Middle East - but are imagined as an homogenous ethnic grouping, who, following a collective heave-ho by the Romans, ended up as a scattered diaspora, somehow managing, against all the odds, to preserve their ethnic purity.
It's as if, whenever Freedland sees himself in a mirror, he sees Moses or Joshua looking back. Read Shlomo Sand? Forget it!
Our self-designated left Zionist today, however, is trendier than his forbears, who swore blind for decades (with that famous shrug) that the Palestinians inexplicably just went walkies in 1948. He now concedes that the Palestinian Nakba (which he still can't spell, rendering it as Naqba) actually happened and even thinks Israelis should be commemorating it. But more than that... nah.
To bolster his case that Zionism is still kosher, Freedland draws on "left-leaning Zionist" author Amos Oz.
First the hard sell:
"[Oz] argues that, besides the legal right bestowed by the UN's 1947 resolution to partition Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab, Israel has a moral right - the right of the drowning man... entitled to grab hold of a piece of driftwood even if another man is already holding it. The drowning man can even make the other man share it, by force, if necessary. His moral right ends, however, the moment he pushes the other man into the sea. The Jewish people, scythed by the Holocaust and after centuries of persecution, were gasping for breath in 1948; their need for a home was as great as that of any other people in history."
All pedestrian Zionist propaganda of course:
1) The partition was essentially an exercise in the White Man twisting the arms of just enough brown men to get the desired result at the UN, not to mention a violation of the latter's charter;
2) Jews in displaced persons camps after the war were not drowning, though they were harassed and bullied by Zionist enforcers; and
3) Zionism, the militant settler-colonial movement which created Israel, was forced on the Palestinians by British bayonets long before the Holocaust, and busied itself not with the rescue of European Jewry from the perils of Nazism, but solely with accumulating the cannon fodder and the arms necessary to roll Palestine's weaker indigenous population and seize as much of its Palestinian homeland as possible.
Having cleverly diverted the reader's attention with the (alleged) drowning man, gasping for breath, Freedland then slips in the following, hoping you won't notice:
"They had the right to act, even though the cost for another people, the Palestinians, was immense."
Sorry about that, Palestinians. Nothing personal mind you!
So who awarded the Orwell Prize to Freedland? There were 3 judges: Robin Lustig (BBC Radio), Paul Anderson (Tribune/New Statesman), and Michael Parks (Professor of Journalism at USC). On the first, you might like to read BBC buries the bitter at mondoweiss.net (7/7/10), and on the second, his rationale for opposing an academic boycott of Israel, No to the Academic Boycott, Tribune, 29/4/05).
Orwell famously wrote that Journalism is printing what someone does not want printed: everything else is public relations. Poor man, a prize bearing his name has just gone to a peddler of Zionist PR.