Professors Dan Bar-On and Sami Adwan
In 2005, 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.
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.
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