He normally goes about his work very quietly, very
humbly. And as the founder of the Sydney Peace Prize, hes normally
in the background promoting other peoples work. But last week
Emeritus Professor Stuart Rees couldnt help but be at the centre of
attention after he was awarded the inaugural Jerusalem (Al Quds)
Peace Prize, at a ceremony at state parliament in
The award was in recognition of his Professor Rees persistent
and courageous advocacy for the human rights of all Palestinians
living in Gaza, the West Bank, Israel, the refugee camps and the
Palestinian diaspora generally.
Professor Rees delivered the first Jerusalem (Al Quds) Peace
Prize lecture as part of the ceremony, and his award was presented
by former Foreign Minister and NSW State Premier the Hon Bob Carr
on November 29, to coincide with the United Nations Day of
Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
Nasser Mashni, chair of Australians for Palestine (AfP) and a
Board Member of the Australia-Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN),
said the choice of Professor Rees would help to highlight strong
global support for a just outcome for Palestinians, felt by
millions around the world.
For all his inspirational work on Palestine nothing reveals more
about Stuart Rees humanity than his belief in a simple anecdote
about a Palestinian refugee who wanted to discuss with Israeli
students his right to return, only to be told you want to kick us
out. No, the Palestinian replied, I simply want to live with you,
Mr Mashni said.
Mr Mashni said Professor Rees numerous books, anthologies of
poetry, and his willingness to write and speak publicly on social
justice issues, have seen him described as one of the most humane
voices in Australia today.
Those issues have driven his indomitable quest to find out what
it really means to be human and to alert us all to our common
humanity, said Mr Mashni.
Professor Rees said he felt very honoured to be recognised from
amongst the many long-committed voices for Palestine in
This award comes at a time when Jerusalem is facing great
challenges from influential global powers to its UN-protected
international status, UN Security Council resolutions,
international law and majority consensus. We cannot allow
antagonistic voices to weaken the hopes of so many for a peaceful
and sustainable solution, he said.
Jerusalems spiritual, cultural and legal character are under
serious threat and only a concerted effort of advocacy and activism
by people everywhere, can Palestinians possibly hope to see an end
to their displacement, eviction and expulsion.
The Jerusalem (Al Quds) Peace Prize will now be awarded annually
by Australians for Palestine and the Australia-Palestine