Forward's Larry Cohler-Esses Wins Prize for Hamas Interview

Scoops Award Named in Honor of David Twersky

Prize-Winner: Larry Cohler-Esses interviews Mousa Abu-Marzook in Cairo in April 2012.
ahmed esmaill
Prize-Winner: Larry Cohler-Esses interviews Mousa Abu-Marzook in Cairo in April 2012.

By Forward Staff

Published February 21, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Larry Cohler-Esses, assistant managing editor of the Forward, has won the second annual David Twersky Journalism Award for his April 19, 2012, exclusive Cairo interview with Mousa Abu Marzook, Hamas’s second-highest-ranking official.

Established in honor of Twersky’s distinguished life in journalism, the award recognizes the work of journalists at the Forward and at the New Jersey Jewish News, the two publications for which Twersky worked for nearly two decades. The judges look for pieces that reflect Twersky’s passion for Israel and his concern for politics on a local and global scale.

Cohler-Esses traveled to Cairo just before Passover of 2012. Egypt was in the throes of the Arab Spring, and Hamas officials appeared to be saying intriguing but contradictory things. Cohler-Esses was in search of the Hamas’s true position. The interview was on the record, without preconditions and with no topic or question proscribed in advance.

As well as the dangers of the trip, the Forward was mindful of both the historic nature of this opportunity and the risk that the representation of the discussion could be manipulated or misconstrued. It was the first time a high-ranking Hamas official had spoken to the Jewish press, hence Cohler-Esses was scrupulous in conveying the context and nuance of Abu Marzook’s words, in detail and at length.

To give adequate scope to that nuance, the article totaled more than 5,000 words. It was vitally important, but also engaging, not least because both men were so clearly profoundly interested in the other’s worldview. It was a milestone in American Jewish journalism and received widespread acclaim.

“The mission of the judges was to find that one piece that David would have considered most remarkable,” noted Amir Cohen, who headed the judges committee. Cohen worked with Twersky at both publications, and founded the award in his friend’s memory.

Also on the committee were Twersky’s children, Anna and Michael Twersky; Connecticut Jewish Ledger Publisher Ricky Greenfield, and former American Jewish Press Association President Elana Kahn-Oren. “This interview is a monumental achievement for the Forward, and it is no surprise the judges found it worthy of this year’s award,” Michael Twersky added.

The committee also named three runners-up, in order: “FEMA on the Bimah” by the Forward’s editor-in-chief, Jane Eisner; “Asylum Seekers” by New Jersey Jewish News’ Debra Rubin, and “Mission Possible” by last year’s winner, Andrew Silow-Carroll, the editor-in-chief of the Jewish News.

Cohler-Esses will receive a medal and a $1,000 honorarium at an award ceremony in May.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "Despite the great pain and sadness surrounding a captured soldier, this should not shape the face of this particular conflict – not in making concessions and not in negotiations, not in sobering assessments of this operation’s achievements or the need to either retreat or move forward." Do you agree?
  • Why genocide is always wrong, period. And the fact that some are talking about it shows just how much damage the war in Gaza has already done.
  • Construction workers found a 75-year-old deli sign behind a closing Harlem bodega earlier this month. Should it be preserved?
  • "The painful irony in Israel’s current dilemma is that it has been here before." Read J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis of the conflict:
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.