In deference to 5 high school years spent in Mr. Hayden’s basic and advanced French classes, I was able to decipher that: 1) Lisa was being invited to a journalism awards ceremony 2) The ceremony would take place in Monaco, and 3) Bleedin’ Prince Albert II would preside.
I phoned her straight away to get the scoop. And found out that she would be the one getting the bleedin’ award!
Lisa wrote this piece for The Columbia Journalism Review back in May. It’s an analysis of Israel’s media cover during the January 2009 military incursion into Gaza aka “Operation Cast Lead”. Based upon the entry, she was chosen by the Anna Lindh Foundation to receive the 2009 Mediterranean region Journalist Award for cross cultural dialogue.
“I found out totally by surprise,” Lisa disclosed. “I’m on the foundation email list and I got an announcement about the prize and my name was on it. I squeezed my eyes and rubbed them and looked again. I couldn’t believe it. About ten minutes later, the head of the jury called from Rome and made it official. He said I was the only category winner the jury had unanimously favored.”
I read the CJR analysis. It’s good, important and the issues raised surrounding Israel’s collective consciousness are critical. The timing of the award is not to be missed: it comes as a storm brews in Israel over the UN’s Goldstone Gaza Report – a summary of Cast Lead human rights issues findings named for the person who headed the fact-finding mission into possible abuses.
Lisa told me she worked harder on the piece than anything she’s ever written. “I wrote three drafts, interviewed a lot of people, transcribed – I spent 8 weeks on it and felt it was the best thing I’ve ever done. I thought it would ignite discussion and debate. But it disappeared like a drop into the Pacific Ocean. And friends told me it was boring, too dense and not my best work. So there was certainly a worm of self-doubt after that.”
When she received news of the honor, it was, in her words, a moment of quiet gratification.
And deservedly so. Talent aside, L’s good people. We met four years ago when I returned to Israel from a long hiatus in the U.S. & I’d all but given up on journalism; burnout & cynicism had put me off the profession. A mutual acquaintance advised: “If you want back in, give Lisa Goldman a call.”
I did. She was connected and forthcoming with phone numbers, information & advice. We met for coffee, she hooked me up with gigs and in later years she addressed a Writer’s Group I moderate. During our first phone talk, she offered invaluable advice: “Start a blog. You need a blog.”
Back to this week’s award, the foundation is flying her to Monaco, the ceremony takes place at a super fancy hotel, dress is formal, there’ll be a cocktail hour & round-table discussions and of course, the Prince will preside.
“I don’t have a thing to wear!” she lamented on FB last week but has since hit the Tel Aviv boutique circuit, spending “the equivalent of a secretary’s monthly salary” on an all-black Escada number.
On the eve of flying out to rub elbows with royalty, a different worm of doubt niggles.
“As an Israeli, you always wonder: ‘Is the European jury choosing my piece because the zeitgeist is to be critical of Israel? Previous winners have done that. But that’s insidious and I try to push it aside. I hope and think it was chosen because it was a good analytical piece. I wrote it because I really care and worry about this place and want it to be better.”
You are making it better, says this jury of peers. Go. Have. Fun. Tell Albert: HEEEEYYYY!!!!