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  • Laureate of the 2003 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, Amira Hass, has said that the award showed international recognition and respect for her work, but accepted it with mixed feelings, because it was in stark contrast to the unease, with which her work was being read in Israel.
  • In her acceptance speech at King's House on Friday, May 2, at an official ceremony hosted by the Governor-General, Sir Howard Cooke and attended by Minister of Education, Youth and Culture, Maxine Henry-Wilson and Minister of Information, Burchell Whiteman, Ms. Hass said she was not deluding herself, despite her appreciation for the prize and the royal setting in which it was being presented.
  • A former teacher, the prize-winning Israeli journalist said that the international recognition for her writings was

Laureate of the 2003 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, Amira Hass, has said that the award showed international recognition and respect for her work, but accepted it with mixed feelings, because it was in stark contrast to the unease, with which her work was being read in Israel.
In her acceptance speech at King’s House on Friday, May 2, at an official ceremony hosted by the Governor-General, Sir Howard Cooke and attended by Minister of Education, Youth and Culture, Maxine Henry-Wilson and Minister of Information, Burchell Whiteman, Ms. Hass said she was not deluding herself, despite her appreciation for the prize and the royal setting in which it was being presented.
A former teacher, the prize-winning Israeli journalist said that the international recognition for her writings was “in stark contrast to the way my work is being received in Israel. Readers in Israel prefer not to read what I and some of my colleagues write about the Israeli occupation (of Palestine)”, noting that whilst it was true that journalists were not being threatened in Israel and other dominant countries of the West, and could therefore, exercise their right to freedom of expression, there were problems with the press.
“Yes, the right to freedom of expression and the right to know, are being respected, but one can very easily discover that the public, who has the right to know, does not have the obligation to know. This is what I have been experiencing during the last 10-11 years,” she said, adding, “the public does not have the obligation to know and I have no way to oblige it to know”.
She said “the public” should not be so amorphous, as in Israel and in the West, it meant the elite, the privileged, those with power to decide and determine their immediate entourages and constituencies amongst others, and those who benefit from the fact that they do not know.
In Israel, she said, the obligation not to know, “has to do directly with the occupation of Palestine and most of the Israelis get direct privileges from the occupation”, calling the privileges short-term, as “eventually, they will discover in a very difficult way, that leaning always on military supremacy, cannot guarantee security and normal life in our country”.
Ms. Hass said that in other countries and in Israel too, privileges meant amongst others, privileges of wealth and access to education which other classes do not have. “So all this non-obligation to know,” she argued, “assist us to live in our privileges and disregard our power in determining the unprivileged positions of the others. That’s another reason why I have those mixed feelings in getting this very respected award”.

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