JERUSALEM - At a reception at the American Center in Jerusalem, U.S. Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer presented the inaugural Victor J. Goldberg IIE Prize for Peace in the Middle East to Professors Dan Bar-On and Sami Adwan for their pioneering work in engaging Israeli and Palestinian teachers and teenagers in changing entrenched and polarizing attitudes on both sides of the region’s conflict.
The Institute of International Education (IIE) created the Goldberg IIE Prize to recognize outstanding work being conducted jointly by two individuals, one Arab and one Israeli, working together to advance the cause of peace in the Middle East. A prestigious international committee judged the shared history project, “Learning Each Other’s Historical Narrative,” to be most successful in bringing people together and breaking down the barriers of hatred toward “the other,” and selected Professors Bar-On and Adwan, co-directors of Peace Research Institute in the Middle East (PRIME), to receive the $10,000 Prize this year.
In an innovative and collaborative approach, Bar-On and Adwan brought together teams of Palestinian and Israeli teachers and historians to develop parallel narratives of key historical events as viewed by the Israeli and Palestinian communities, translate them into Hebrew and Arabic, and test their use together in both Palestinian and Israeli classrooms. Using this new shared history booklet, 15 and 16 year old students in each school system will be able to read the history of the other community alongside their own, coming to understand the historical perspectives and contexts that shape both communities.
The goal of this new project of PRIME (Peace Research Institute in the Middle East), the organization that Bar-On and Adwan direct, is to “disarm” the teaching of Middle East history in Israeli and Palestinian classrooms, to advance the cause of understanding and reconciliation between peoples and ultimately create a social infrastructure capable of sustaining formal political agreements in the region. The booklet has also been translated into English, French, Italian and Spanish languages, and has begun to be used widely in several European countries.
PRIME’s work draws upon Dr. Bar-On's pioneering research on methods of reconciliation between the children of Holocaust survivors and children of Nazi perpetrators and how these techniques might be applied in other post-conflict situations. It also benefits from Dr. Adwan's research on Palestinian and Israeli school textbooks and his experience with people-to-people dialogues in the region. Both Goldberg IIE Prize recipients are noted experts in the fields of reconciliation and education, and have lectured and written extensively on these topics.
Dr. Bar-On had a Fulbright Post-Doctoral Scholarship at MIT in 1983. He has been a distinguished professor and guest lecturer in universities in Israel, Germany and the United States, and was awarded the German Cross of Merit for his work promoting understanding between peoples. He is a Full Professor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, where he has chaired the Department and the Masters program in Social Psychology. Dr. Adwan is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at Bethlehem University, with a degree in Education from the University of Jordan and advanced degrees in Education Administration from universities in the United States. He has chaired the Department of Education at Hebron University, was the Dean of the Faculty of Education at Bethlehem University and continues to serve as a consultant to schools in the Bethlehem District.
Dr. Bar-On was eligible for the Prize because of his Fulbright Fellowship. The eligibility criteria state that at least one of the nominated individuals must be an alumnus of any program administered by the Institute of International Education, including the Fulbright Program, which IIE has administered for the U.S. Department of State since its inception over 50 years ago. The new Prize has been endowed through a contribution from IIE’s Executive Committee member and former vice chairman, Victor J. Goldberg, to recognize and advance the work of the Institute.
In his gift letter Mr. Goldberg stated, “Political leaders and governments have so far been unable to bring lasting peace to this troubled area. Hatred and fear of ‘the other’ abound. While there is no magic solution, one positive force may be to encourage people to live and work together at the grass roots, learning to trust and depend on one another for their common good.”
According to Mr. Goldberg, “The intent of this award is to recognize innovation and reward those who are courageous and committed enough to work together to overcome the religious, cultural, ethnic, and political issues which divide the Middle East. We hope not only to recognize significant work being conducted today, but also to inspire others to join together across these divides to advance the cause of peace in the coming years.”
The Selection Committee for the Prize includes leading experts from academic, NGO and governmental backgrounds. Chaired by Thomas S. Johnson, the Chairman of IIE’s Board of Trustees and retired Chairman and CEO of GreenPoint Financial Corporation, the committee also includes: David Arnold, President of the American University in Cairo; Susan Berresford, President of the Ford Foundation; Stuart Eizenstat, Head of the International Practice, Covington & Burling and former Special Representative of the President and Secretary of State for Holocaust-Era Issues; Theodore Kattouf, President & CEO of AMIDEAST and Former U.S. Ambassador to United Arab Emirates and to Syria; Serra Kirdar, Visiting Scholar, Harvard University’s Centre for Middle Eastern Studies; and Harold Tanner, a New York investment banker and former president of the American Jewish Committee who was elected last month to head the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
According to Institute of International Education president Allan E. Goodman, “The Goldberg IIE Prize will encourage some of the best and the brightest professionals in the region to contribute their valuable knowledge and experience to the cause of peace in the Middle East, and will reward them for their courage and conviction in doing so. It is a wonderful embodiment of Vic Goldberg’s long-time commitment to bettering the world through international cooperation.”
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About the Institute of International Education
The Institute of International Education (IIE) is a world leader in the international exchange of people and ideas. Its expertise enables institutions and individuals to build capacity in their home countries and regions. IIE designs and implements programs of study and training for 20,000 students, educators, young professionals and trainees from all sectors with funding from governments, foundations, corporations and individuals. These programs include the Fulbright Student and Scholar programs and the Humphrey Fellowships, administered on behalf of the Department of State in cooperation with Fulbright Commissions around the world, as well as over 200 other training and scholarship programs. IIE conducts policy research and provides counseling on international educational opportunities abroad. The Institute of International Education has a network of 20 offices worldwide, over 1000 college and university members, and more than 5,000 volunteers. Information about IIE can be obtained from IIE's website www.iie.org.
About Victor J. Goldberg
Victor J. Goldberg retired from IBM in 1993 as a corporate vice president after a 34-year career at the company. Mr. Goldberg received both his undergraduate and his M.B.A. degrees from Northwestern University. He joined the Board of Trustees of the Institute of International Education in 1979, is a member of its Executive Committee and served for 13 years as vice chairman of the Board. He is a trustee of the International Fellowship Program, a Ford Foundation initiative for underserved populations around the world, and also serves on the National Council of the American Jewish Committee and the boards of Education Through Music and the Scarsdale Foundation.