The Guardian December 12, 2001


Alternative Nobel Prize

On Friday, December 7, in an official ceremony at the Swedish 
parliament, the "Alternative Nobel Prize" was awarded to Gush Shalom 
(Israeli Peace Bloc) as well as personally to Uri and Rachel Avnery.

In its decision the jury says that "Gush Shalom and its co-founders Uri and 
Rachel Avnery, have shown the way to peace between Israelis and 
Palestinians, and worked for several decades with courage and dedication to 
promote its acceptance and implementation."

The jury honours the Avnerys and all Gush Shalom activists "for their 
unwavering conviction, in the most difficult and dangerous 
circumstances,that peace and an end to terrorism can only be achieved 
through justiceand reconciliation."

"The decision of the jury is an expression of the wish to strengthen the 
Israeli peace camp, the part of Israeli society which continues to seek a 
peace based on mutual respect between the two peoples," says Uri Avnery.

"In the same week that the government of Israel, dominated by the most 
extreme and intransigent factions, declares war against the Palestinian 
Authority and Arafat, in Stockholm the international community gives a very 
different message.

"From the moment he was elected, Sharon acted consistently against every 
possibility of conciliation and peace  by closure and siege, bombardments 
and liquidations, and by effectively neutralizing any chance of getting 
back to the negotiating table.

"The recent assassination of Hamas leader Mahmud Abu Hunud meant the end of 
the silent agreement between the Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, in 
this way provoking the latest series of terrorist attacks, which in turn 
gave Sharon the legitimation he sought for an all-out war.

The prestigious prize whose official name is Right Livelihood Award, but 
which is generally known as the "Alternative Noble Prize" is awarded every 
year in the Swedish Parliament, on the day before the official Nobel Prize 
ceremony.

Founded in 1980, the prize had the aim "to honour and support those 
offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges 
facing us today."

The initiator Jacob von Uexkull, a philatelic expert and descendant of a 
well-known Swedish-German aristocratic family, sold his valuable postage 
stamp collection to provide the original endowment.

The three other laureates are the British anti-nuclear organisation Trident 
Ploughshares; Leonardo Boff, Brazil, one of the founders of liberation 
theology in Latin America; and Jose Antonio Abreu, the founder of 
Venezuela's system of children's orchestras.

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