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Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit wins prestigious American documentary award

‘The Lobby’, a four-part series produced by Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit about an Israeli campaign to interfere with domestic politics in the U.K. has won a CINE Golden Eagle Award in Washington D.C.

The series, first broadcast in January 2017, triggered front page headlines and a media furor in the UK. It forced the resignation of an Israeli diplomat and the Ambassador to the UK, Mark Regev, apologized to the British Government.

The CINE Golden Eagle Awards, which were founded in 1957, honour originality and excellence in storytelling. ‘The Lobby’ was judged the best non-fiction mini-series in what CINE described as “an extraordinarily competitive field”. Past winners of the Golden Eagle Award include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Michael Moore, Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro.

‘The Lobby’ exposed how covert operations conducted by the State of Israel were promoting a foreign country’s agenda within Britain’s political parties. An undercover journalist, ‘Robin’, was hired to secretly record the activities of an Israeli diplomat as he tried to influence student council elections and set up a pro-Israel youth group in the Labour Party.

The series also included evidence of a plot, hatched by the Israeli official and a British civil servant, to “take down” a government minister who was critical of Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank. 

Pro-Israel advocacy groups made a series of complaints about ‘The Lobby’ to the Office of Communications (Ofcom), the quasi-government regulator that ensures fairness and accuracy in British television journalism.

The complainants leveled a range of charges at al Jazeera, including anti-Semitism, bias and infringement of privacy. After an eight month investigation, Ofcom’s 60-page ruling rejected each complaint and vindicated al Jazeera’s journalism on every count. 

The Acting Director of Investigative Journalism, Phil Rees, said he was proud that Al Jazeera had been recognized by highly respected judges from the American media and film industry. “The CINE Golden Eagle Award is a vindication of brave journalism that is unafraid to speak truth to the powerful,” he said.

A second series of ‘The Lobby’, focusing on pro-Israel advocacy groups in the United States, has yet to be broadcast.  When those featured in the investigation were contacted for comment, several of the individuals and organizations involved called for the series not to be broadcast.