AMMAN — Jordanian cartoonist Naser Al Jafari, who won third place in an international award on political cartoons on Sunday said he rejected the prize because it is “funded by a pro-Israel cartoonist”.
Jafari, who works as a cartoonist at Al Ghad daily, won the $3,000 third prize in the 2012 United Nations/Ranan Lurie International Political Cartoon Award.
Jafari, who applied for the award in October last year, said he received some papers and a cheque by mail in early January informing him that he won third place.
“The cheque I received was signed by Lurie himself. Then I did some research about him and asked colleagues in the profession about him and discovered that he has connections with the Zionist entity [Israel],” Jafari told The Jordan Times.
“I refused to accept the award because it is funded by Lurie who is known for supporting the Zionist entity and has a history of dealing with the Zionist movement. I cannot accept an award from such a person,” the cartoonist said, adding that “Lurie has never condemned any of Israel’s practices against the Palestinians”.
“Although this is a UN award that is judged by international experts, when I realised it is funded by someone who is pro-Israel, I decided to refuse it,” Jafari added.
The UN established this award “to promote the highest standard of excellence in political cartoons depicting the spirit of the United Nations”, according to a statement on the prize’s official website
“We have named this award after Mr Lurie, as we find that his political cartoons epitomise the high standards that we at the United Nations would like to see,” the statement added.
Lurie has been nominated by Cyprus for the Nobel Peace Prize, and has appeared in the Guinness Book of World Records for 20 consecutive years as “the most widely syndicated political cartoonist in the world”, according to the website.
“As of July 1998, his work was published in 103 countries in 1,105 newspapers with a total circulation of 104 million copies.”
Jafari, a recipient of several local and Arab awards, said he sent back the documents he received along with the cheque and two statements in Arabic and English explaining why he rejected the award to the organisers a few days ago.
The cartoonist said the Jordan Engineers Association honoured him recently for rejecting the prize and launched an annual award named after him to support excelling media professionals who fight for and support Jerusalem and the Palestinian issue through their words or cartoons.
In Jordan, which is the second country in the region after Egypt that has signed a peace treaty with Israel, professional associations oppose normalisation of relations with Israel.