SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — The awarding of a peace prize to the American Jewish intellectual Noam Chomsky, a strident critic of Israel and of American foreign policy, is drawing fire in Australia.
The citation for this year’s Sydney Peace Prize, announced June 1, says that Chomsky was chosen “for inspiring the convictions of millions about a common humanity and for unfailing moral courage.”
“The choice of Noam Chomsky continues a pattern of Sydney Peace Prize recipients who have demonstrated questionable credentials as legitimate peace-makers,” said Vic Alhadeff, chief executive of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies. “It does nothing to enhance the standing of either the recipient or the prize itself.”
Michael Danby, a member of parliament from Australia’s governing Labor Party, criticized the choice by the Sydney Peace Foundation, which awards the prize and is based at the University of Sydney. He called the award “a bodgy prize from a bodgy institute.”
Chomsky, 82, sparked a furor recently with an essay on the killing of Osama bin Laden in which he wrote that George W. Bush’s crimes “vastly exceed” those of the al Qaeda leader.
“We might ask how we would be reacting if Iraqi commandos landed at his compound, assassinated him and dumped his body in the Atlantic,” he said.
Chomsky has said that he is “honored to receive this prestigious award.” He said he would fly to Australia in November to collect his $50,000 prize and deliver the City of Sydney Peace Prize lecture at the University of Sydney.