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U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel B. Shapiro delivered the keynote address at the B’nai B’rith ceremony in Jerusalem for the 2011 Award for Journalism Recognizing Diaspora Reportaģe. There, he addressed issues such as the ongoing rocket attacks on southern Israeli cities from Gaza, the U.S.-Israel alliance and the Palestinian bid for U.N. membership.

Referring to the rocket attacks, the ambassador said, “The United States condemns these terror attacks from Gaza. There is no excuse for firing rockets at innocent civilians. The United States supports the right of Israel to defend itself and its citizens.” Shapiro stressed the strong alliance between the two countries and America’s commitment to Israel’s security, noting “it is a profoundly important interest of the United States for Israel to succeed and thrive in the future as a strong, secure Jewish democratic state here in the historic homeland of the Jewish people.”

Addressing the Palestinian bid for U.N. membership, Shapiro said that “the United States has made crystal clear that the core issues of the conflict can only be resolved through direct negotiations.”

In closing, he added: “I have been proud to work closely with B’nai B’rith in Washington and consider myself a partner in its important work for Klal Yisrael (the Jewish People). I commend all of you who support and work for this organization, for fighting anti-Semitism and against anti-Israel bias, your work to ensure the dignity of our community’s older citizens and your help for communities in crisis wherever they are found.”

This year’s reporting awards were presented to Bambi Sheleg, editor of Eretz Acheret; film director Meni Elias; and Noah Klieger of Yedioth Ahronot.

Since its establishment in 1992, the B’nai B’rith World Center Award for Journalism has recognized excellence in reportaģe on contemporary Diaspora Jewish communities and on the state of Israel-Diaspora relations today in Israeli print, electronic and online media. The B’nai B’rith World Center Award is widely acknowledged by the media industry as the most prestigious prize in Israel recognizing excellence in Diaspora reportaģe.

Sheleg, founder and editor-in-chief of the bi-monthly magazine Eretz Acheret (“A Different Israel”), received the Award in Memory of Wolf and Hilda Matsdorf for print media for the November-December 2010 issue of the magazine dedicated to U.S. Jewry. The edition, entitled “Two States for Two Nations? American Jews and Us” included more than a dozen insightful articles about the connection between Israel and U.S. Jewry.

Director/photographer Elias took home the electronic media prize for his captivating documentary “Betzet Israel,” in which he follows three Israeli-Ethiopians on a journey to Ethiopia during which they relive the hardships they endured during their initial journey to Israel via Sudan. The film was produced by Sheba Communications and broadcast on Israel’s Channel 1.

This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award in memory of Luis and Trudi Schydlowsky was conferred upon veteran journalist Klieger.

“Through their professional work the three winners made a significant contribution in exposing the varied image of the Jewish communities in the Diaspora. The award is one of the B’nai B’rith World Center’s main goals in strengthening the bonds between the State of Israel and the Diaspora—bonds which we should nurture and strengthen,” said B’nai B’rith World Center Chairman Haim V. Katz, who moderated the event.
Members of the distinguished award jury were: Dan Pattir, political analyst and media advisor to prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Menachem Begin (Chairman); Yehudith Auerbach, head of the Communication and Journalism Studies Division, Bar Ilan University; Sara Frenkel, Diaspora reporter, Broadcast Authority and Lifetime Achievement Award winner for 2002;  Shlomo Nakdimon, journalist and columnist; and Asher Weill, publisher and editor of “Ariel,” The Israel Review of Arts and Letters (1981-2003).

The award is named for the late Wolf Matsdorf, former editor of the B’nai B’rith World Center publication “Leadership Briefing” and a journalist in Israel and Australia, and his wife, the late Hilda Matsdorf, a social work pioneer in both Israel and Australia. The award is made possible through donations from Daniel Schydlowsky, a member of the B’nai B’rith World Center International Board of Governors (Lima, Peru and Washington D.C.), and the Matsdorf family.