Prize and Prejudice

21

Padraic McGuinness has written an interesting op-ed in the Sydney Morning Herald in which he blasts the Sydney Peace Prize, but claims that Jewish leaders should have just ignored the whole thing.

Peace prizes are getting sillier every day. It used to be there was a fairly simple path to obtaining a Nobel Peace Prize, which involved murdering as many people as possible and then promising to stop. With some awareness of the absurdity of this, the Nobel committee in Norway, which awards the prize, began to share the award between the leaders of two sides involved in a conflict who promised to make peace.

Thus 30 years ago the prize was awarded jointly to Henry Kissinger of the United States and Le Duc Tho of North Vietnam for their joint efforts at making peace in Vietnam. While I am unconvinced by the case made by the journalist Christopher Hitchens who claims Kissinger should be tried as a war criminal, he did not have clean hands. Nor did Le, certainly a murderer. At least he was honest enough to decline – he knew perfectly well he would continue to wage war. So should the Nobel committee have known.

There have been worthy recipients, but given the overall record of the committee and of all other bodies which purport to award such prizes, these are but happy accidents. In general, the Nobel Peace Prize is comparable in its recipients to the Stalin Prize, happily no longer awarded. But both tended to go to dictators, enemies of democracy or apologists for both.

The fuss about the award of the so-called Sydney Peace Prize to Hanan Ashrawi, a polished propagandist from Palestine, was a storm in a teacup. It had its nasty aspects, like the pretence that powerful and mysterious Jewish influences were involved, rather than some ill-considered protests from sections of the local Jewish community (who knew something about Ashrawi’s history). This was yet another manifestation of the anti-Semitic strain which lies just below the surface of those who regard themselves as “progressive”.

They prefer to applaud Arab extremists who want to murder Jews, and fail to distinguish between deliberate terrorist attacks on innocent people on the one hand, and retaliatory action against the terrorists who hide among the innocent on their own side, thus using them cynically as innocent victims, on the other.

But it would have been better to ignore the whole thing. The Sydney Peace Foundation (SPF) is a body of no significance which has managed to con a number of businesses and the city council into providing funds with which to pursue its naive leftist agenda. It has involved a number of people who would not normally be considered leftist, but this is always the way of the kind of united-front bodies which talk airily about peace and love while practising neither.

The history of the various peace congresses which were held during the Cold War should be instructive – but, as has been said, the thing we learn from history is that we do not learn from history.

The nature of the Sydney mob, led by a retired Sydney University professor of social work, was obvious long before it seized upon Ashrawi. Her predecessor was former Irish president Mary Robinson, who was notably unsuccessful in persuading any of the dictatorships in the UN to pay any attention to human rights when she was head of the UN Human Rights Commission. Before her was Sir William Deane, hero of the anti-Howard brigade, who contributed nothing to peace that anyone could name. Enough said.

It is clear what the politics of the SPF are. They are about claiming the moral high ground for the left, while making excuses for terrorists and warmongers so long as they can be said somehow to be fighting for national independence or against the vestiges of colonialism.
The SPF is not alone in providing monetary rewards for propaganda in Australia. There’s also the UN media peace awards, awarded not by the UN but by the UN Association of Australia, with much the same agenda as the SPF. The truth is that all these prizes are a joke, and should be treated as such. And why on earth does any democratic organisation or public company fund them?

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An Aussie immigrant to Israel, David Lange is founder and managing editor of Israellycool. He is a happy family man, and a lover of steak, Australian sports and single malt whisky.