Haaretz Journalists Awarded Israel's Most Prestigious Journalism Prize

Amos Harel, Haaretz's defense analyst, and Gidi Weitz, head of investigative reporting, win Sokolow Prize for 2015.

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Gidi Weitz (L) and Amos Harel.
Gidi Weitz (L) and Amos Harel.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum/Dudu Bachar

Two Haaretz journalists, Amos Harel and Gidi Weitz, were awarded the Sokolow Prize for print journalism on Sunday. 

Harel, Haaretz’s military analyst, and Weitz, the paper’s head of investigative reporting, join a long list of Haaretz journalists who have won the prestigious prize, awarded by the Tel Aviv Municipality since 1956. Of the 116 journalists to win the price, 15 have been Haaretz reporters, commentators and editors. 

Harel, 47, was Haaretz’s military reporter from 1997 to 2007, after which he became the paper’s military analyst. His work has included coverage of Israel's security establishment and all the country’s recent wars, from the second intifada through the Second Lebanon War and the recent rounds of fighting in Gaza.

Some of his most prominent articles and investigative reports include revealing the General Staff protocols from the Second Lebanon War and a report on the last 60 hours of the war;  exposing the recording system that operated in the army chief of General Staff’s office and the transcripts from the discussions in that office about the Harpaz affair; an investigative report on the IDF’s deficient planning for battling the terror tunnels; a detailed rendering of the so-called Black Friday battle in Rafah during Operation Protective Edge; and a series of reports on the Military Rabbinate.

“My job is to give as honest, thorough and accurate picture possible,” Harel said, upon receiving the prize. “The system doesn’t really like this. It’s accustomed to most of the coverage of the defense establishment being loving, encouraging and patriotic. I’m no less patriotic than the next reporter, but I have to look at it differently, not as part of the army’s cheerleading squad.”

Weitz has been a Haaretz reporter since 2006, recently serving as the paper’s chief investigative reporter. Memorable reports include a story on the Investment Center affair which ended in former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's conviction; a wide-ranging report on Austrian businessman Martin Schlaff and his ties to Israeli leaders; a report on the sympathetic coverage the Walla website gives to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also communications minister and as such made decisions favorable to the site’s owner, Shaul Elovitch; and a piece on Ephraim Bracha, the head of the police’s National Fraud Squad who took his own life.

Weitz said that as someone covering the political arena, “I was interested in revealing the picture a bit more; to show the reality as I perceive it, which is more complex and with multiple participants.

“I would not advise a young person to become a journalist, but I do not regret being a journalist,” he added, saying it was the only field in which he could satisfy his curiosity about a variety of subjects. “And sometimes there’s some comfort in fixing something, even though it’s just a small repair and not repairing the world.”

Television personality Ilana Dayan and radio presenter Keren Neubach won the prize for electronic journalism. Shlomo Cohen, the daily cartoonist for Israel Hayom, won the cartoonist prize.