Winners of the award, which recognizes excellence in Diaspora reportage in Israel print, broadcast and digital media, were Amanda Borschel-Dan, the Times of Israel’s Jewish World editor and Allison Kaplan Sommer, staff writer at Haaretz. Both journalists submitted an impressive array of articles on Diaspora communities and Israel-Diaspora relations published during 2015.
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Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer delivered the keynote address, which was also covered by The Times of Israel.
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Israeli Ambassador to the U.S.
Ambassador Ron Demer posted his entire speech on TimesofIsrael.com, speaking about the vital link between Israel and the United States.
Beyond security and technology, my confidence in the future of the US-Israel alliance also comes from my appreciation that our alliance is rooted in things that run much deeper. It is rooted in our most cherished values and in a shared sense of destiny. The idea that all are created equal in the image of God, that no one is above the law, that compassion for the most vulnerable is a sacred obligation — ideas which have been a moral compass for generations of Americans — were ideas first championed thousands of years ago by the prophets of the Jewish people and which today are fused into the national identity of the Jewish state.
Having lived both in the far-flung corners of the Diaspora and in the heart of the Jewish world, Israel, Australian social workers Dr. Wolf Matsdorf and wife Hilda were supremely aware of the media’s influence on strengthening the relationship between Israel and world Jewry.
On Amanda Borschel-Dan
Times of Israel, Jewish World editor
Borschel-Dan recounted how she only discovered she was Jewish when she was nine years old. She said she decided to immigrate to Israel “at 24, with only a backpack and my violin,” after realizing that as someone “whose center of life is not the synagogue,” her future children’s children would very likely not grow up to be Jews if she remained in the United States.
On Allison Kaplan Sommer
Haaretz, staff writer
Haaretz columnist Allison Kaplan Sommer was awarded the B’nai B’rith World Center Award for Journalism Recognizing Excellence in Diaspora Reportage in a ceremony on Thursday night.
AFTER RECEIVING the Israel Prize and the prestigious Sokolov Prize among several other important awards, veteran journalist Yaakov Ahimeir last Thursday received a life achievement award at the annual B’nai B’rith World Center awards for journalism, established quarter of a century ago by the late Wolf and Hilda Matsdorf, and expanded since then to include an annual life achievement award in memory of Luis and Trudi Schydlowsky and a special citation established by the B’nai B’rith World Center to honor performing artists who have fostered closer relations between Israel and the Jewish Diaspora.
The latter was awarded to the totally charming Idan Raichel, who, though he had to rush off to a performance, nonetheless decided not to cheat the audience at the awards ceremony at the Konrad Adenauer Center in Jerusalem and performed briefly before exiting. In accepting the citation, he spoke with a degree of modesty tinged with pride, saying that in several countries he and his group are regarded as the sound track of Israel, just as Édith Piaf is regarded as the sound track of France, and Miriam Makeba the sound track of Africa.
Both the Matsdorf prizewinners – Allison Kaplan Sommer of Haaretz and Amanda Borschel-Dan of The Times of Israel – thanked their respective editors for giving them a free hand to write about the subjects that really interest them. Each, at different times, began their journalistic careers at The Jerusalem Post. Broadcast journalist Ahimeir, the winner of the Life Achievement award, did not begin his half-century-long career at the Post but, rather, spent most of it at the nearby studios of Israel Radio and Israel Television (Channel 1).
Guest speaker Ron Dermer, ambassador to the United States, is also a former Post columnist, and addressed The Jerusalem Post Conference in New York this past May.
Dermer, whose mother was born in prestate Israel and whose father was born in the United States, presented himself as a walking example of the US-Israel alliance.
Ahimeir hinted that with the advent of the Israel Broadcasting Corporation, which is due to replace the Israel Broadcasting Authority on October 1, he was on the verge of ending his career in tandem with the demise of the IBA. However, there have been media reports of rumors that both Ahimeir and Golan will be incorporated into the IBC, this despite the fact that Golan has used every opportunity to be critical of the decision to close down the IBA, and he hasn’t had anything complimentary to say about the IBC.
Ahimeir, in accepting his award, admitted that the IBA was in need of a drastic overhaul, but to close it down, he said, “was the most erroneous decision of the government.”
He wondered aloud about the conscience of those who had voted “to destroy one of the most important institutions in the country.”
Dermer, who described himself as “a card-carrying member of B’nai B’rith,” said that most Jewish organizations owe a debt of gratitude to B’nai B’rith for being a pioneer in many areas. He also applauded the choice of Raichel for a citation, calling him “one of Israel’s finest ambassadors in the world.”
Contrary to what BDS reports would have people believe, according to Dermer “Israel is less isolated today than at any time in our history.” In relation to the alliance between Israel and America, Dermer said: “It is without question the most important relationship that Israel has in the world.”
In demographic terms, Dermer credited Israel with now having surpassed the US, and thus becoming “the largest Jewish community in the world,” adding that “New York still has more Jews than Jerusalem.
Despite differences in opinion between Israel and the US over a nuclear Iran, Dermer is confidant that the alliance will grow stronger and that Israel, as an ally, will become more critical in protecting America’s interests. The most dangerous security challenges to the US, he said, will come from the Middle East.