The 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism has been awarded to Washington Report correspondent Mohammed Omer, author of the monthly feature, “Gaza on the Ground.” He shares the prestigious award with independent American journalist Dahr Jamail, who for several years has been filing unembedded reports from Iraq (and whose articles have also appeared in the Washington Report). As the award announcement explained, “Working alone in extremely difficult and often dangerous circumstances, they have reported unpalatable truths validated by powerful facts that expose establishment propaganda, or ‘official drivel,’ as Martha Gellhorn called it.”
Gellhorn, regarded as one of the most distinguished journalists of the 20th century, traveled the globe and often reported from deep within zones of conflict. The Gellhorn Prize committee—Alexander Matthews, James Fox, Cynthia Kee, John Hatt, Jeremy Harding and John Pilger—chose Omer and Jamail from a record number of entries from the British press and abroad.
Mohammed Omer reports on life in the besieged Gaza Strip, where he maintains the web site Rafah Today, www.rafahtoday.org. A resident of Gaza’s Rafah refugee camp near the border with Egypt, he and his family have been affected by Israeli policies and current events every bit as much as the people about whom he reports. But as he explained in his recent article An Award for the Voiceless in Gaza, “My ambition was to get the truth out, not as pro-Palestinian or anti-Israeli, but as an independent voice and witness.”
In 2006 the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs sponsored a nationwide tour by Omer. He hopes to be able to leave Gaza this week for speaking engagements in Scandinavia, Greece and the Netherlands—and to receive the Gellhorn Prize at the June 16 awards ceremony in London. He previously was named the first recipient of the New America Media’s Best Youth Voice award.