— At a reception on June 22 at the Arab-Jewish Community Center in Yaffo, U.S. Ambassador Richard Jones will present the second annual Victor J. Goldberg IIE Prize for Peace in the Middle East to Ibrahim Abu Shindi and Hadas Kaplan. The award recognizes their pioneering work in creating an innovative and sustainable community organization that works to promote inter-cultural dialogue, co-existence, and community empowerment in its mixed Jewish and Arab Israeli neighborhood.
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 Arab-Jewish Community Center to be most successful in bringing people together and breaking down the barriers caused by misunderstanding and mistrust of “the other,” and selected Mr. Abu Shindi and Ms. Kaplan, both Israeli citizens, to receive the $10,000 Prize this year.
Mr. Abu Shindi and Ms. Kaplan founded the Center 13 years ago to preserve ethnic, religious, and national individuality while fostering better understanding, tolerance, and democratic values among diverse populations. The Center has become a paragon of co-existence between Jewish and Arab populations in an urban setting, providing a venue for both facilitated and unmediated encounters between members of Yaffo’s various ethnic and age groups, including children from Jewish and Arab kindergartens, elementary and high school students, and adults. It also runs job skills training and school enrichment outreach programs in the community.
In addition to serving as head of the AJCC, Mr. Abu Shindi is co-director of the Forum for Citizens Accord between Arabs and Jews in Israel, which brings Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel together in social action groups to bring about a tangible change in existing social injustices and inequalities, as well as to promote mutual trust and understanding between Jews and Arabs in Israel. In founding the AJCC, Mr. Abu Shindi drew upon his experience managing the Social Renewal Project and the Advanced Youth Department in Ajami-Jaffa and his background as a social worker. Mr. Abu Shindi received a BA in Social Work and an MA in Social Management from Tel-Aviv University and studied advising at Beit-Berl College. In 1992, he participated in the US Department of State's International Visitors Leadership Program.
Prior to joining with Mr. Abu Shindi to start the AJCC, Ms. Kaplan served in the Community, Youth and Sports division of the municipality of Tel-Aviv and in international relations in the national youth scouts. She has supervised volunteer teenage groups in development towns all over the country and participated in delegations of youth volunteers and youth and community workers, such as the “Israeli Friendship Caravan.” In 1996, she, too, participated in the International Visitors Leadership Program. Ms. Kaplan has several degrees in teaching and management of educational and cultural institutions from Tel-Aviv University, Bar Ilan University, and Beit-Berl College, as well as an MBA from Thamas Valley University.
The eligibility criteria state that at least one of the nominated individuals must be an alumnus of a program administered by the Institute of International Education. Both Mr. Abu Shindi and Ms. Kaplan were eligible for the Prize because of their participation in the International Visitor Leadership Program administered by IIE for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State. The 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 academia, the non-profit sector, and government. 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 the United Arab Emirates and to Syria; Serra Kirdar, Life Fellow, St. Antony's College, University of Oxford; and Harold Tanner, a New York investment banker and former president of the American Jewish Committee who now heads 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.”
The winners of the inaugural Goldberg IIE Prize in 2005 were Professors Dan Bar-On and Sami Adwan, for their shared history project, “Learning Each Other’s Historical Narrative.” For further information on the Prize, go to the Victor J. Goldberg Prize page on www.iie.org
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 over 200 programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals and trainees from all sectors with funding from government and private sources. These programs include the Fulbright Student and Scholar programs and the Humphrey Fellowships, administered for the Department of State, and the People, Energy, and Development project administered for the U.S. Agency for International Development, as well as corporate training and scholarship programs. IIE also conducts policy research and provides advice and counseling on international educational opportunities abroad. The Institute of International Education has a network of 19 offices worldwide, over 850 college and university members, and more than 5,000 volunteers. Information about IIE can be obtained from IIE’s website www.iie.org or www.iienetwork.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.
The Arab-Jewish Community Center – Tel Aviv/Yaffo (Jaffa)
The Arab-Jewish Community Center runs activities from morning to night, serving a membership of over 3,500, consisting of almost equal numbers of Christians, Muslims, and Jews. In addition, it provides active educational enrichment to 2,000 schoolchildren and collaborates with the Arab (Muslim, Protestant, Greek Orthodox, and Catholic) and Jewish Israeli Scouting movements.
AJCC’s programs are designed to be directly related to the tangible needs of the community, with a focus on four strategic areas:
- Co-Existence and Democracy: Conducting special events and ongoing co-existence activities to create an authentic dialogue between the Arabic-speaking and Jewish people who live in Israel, including pioneering projects such as a Jewish-Arab choir;
- Workshops and Enrichment: Providing afternoon and evening activities in the areas of the plastic arts, dance, Eastern and Western music, sport, languages, and social and cultural activities for all age groups;
- Enrichment and Educational Activities for Children: Conducting morning and after-school programs as part of, and as a supplement to, regular school curricula, including teacher education;
- Social Welfare: Assisting families in need through special programs for the handicapped, a Jewish-Arab Daycare Center for underprivileged children, and a therapy center for schoolchildren.
One of the most significant achievements of the AJCC’s founders is a job skills program that trains about 1,000 people in the community per year, offering skills such as nursing and teaching that are directly relevant to the community’s current needs. Another major accomplishment is the Center’s successful outreach to the Yaffo school system, creating partnerships between the fourteen Jewish and Arab schools for children and kindergartens in Yaffo and the AJCC, to overcome the divisions between the region’s parallel Jewish and Arabic educational systems. Children and youth who rarely, if ever, had the opportunity to meet their counterparts in other sectors of the population are now coming together regularly to use the Center’s facilities and professional teachers.
A few of the Center’s more noteworthy projects are:
- A Day-Care Center for Children-at-Risk that brings Arab and Jewish children together. In cooperation with Tel Aviv University, the Center has developed a unique therapeutic model, which is the first of its kind in Israel.
- "Voices of Peace," the only choir in Israel singing in three languages: Hebrew, Arabic and English. The choir, conducted by the renowned musician Mr. Shlomo Gronich, brings together Arab and Jewish youth.
- Cultural events in the holiday spirit of the diverse cultures and religions. These include the "Duet in Jaffa" Festival with thousands of participants, and events around Ramadan, Christmas, Hanukah, Purim and many others.