In praise of… Amira Hass

Editorial

The Guardian/UK, Oct 24, 2009

Only Amira Hass could have received the International Women’s Media Foundation lifetime achievement award by saying her life as a journalist had been a failure. By her standards maybe, but then she sets them high. If her aim is to stop successive Israeli governments lying about what they do in the occupied territories, then it is true that the language laundromat, as she once put it, keeps on turning. But make no mistake, the Haaretz columnist fully deserves this award. She is the only Israeli journalist to have lived in and reported from Gaza and Ramallah for much of the last two decades. In describing the effects of the occupation on the lives of Palestinians, she has been pilloried by Israelis and fallen foul of Hamas. Her moral anchor is firmly rooted in painful collective memories. Her mother survived a concentration camp and her father the ghettos of Romania and Ukraine. “What luck my parents are dead,” Hass wrote at the height of the Gaza operation in January. Her parents could not stand the noise of Israeli jet fighters flying over the Palestinian refugee camps in 1982, and nor could they have tolerated going about their daily chores in Tel Aviv with the knowledge of what was going on in their name in Gaza: “They knew what it meant to close people behind barbed-wire fences in a small area.” Only a Jew can invert the “never again” logic of the Holocaust that is used to justify Israel‘s least justifiable actions. It is that very experience, Hass argues, that should teach Israel to behave differently.

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