— At a reception on June 14 at The American Center in Jerusalem, U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Gene Cretz joined IIE in presenting the third annual Victor J. Goldberg IIE Prize for Peace in the Middle East to Amin Khalaf and Lee Gordon, two veteran Israeli educators. The award recognizes their pioneering work in co-founding the organization Hand in Hand in 1997, and their success over the past decade in building and developing three bilingual and multicultural schools where 750 students from kindergarten through twelfth grade are currently co-taught by Arab and Jewish instructors and courses are presented in both Hebrew and Arabic. In the 2007-08 school year, Hand in Hand, which began with 50 students in 1998, will expand to serve over 900 Jewish and Arab children in four schools. A decade ago, the two co-founders recognized segregated schools as a barrier to peaceful coexistence, and they joined together to invent a unique multicultural school model to support a stronger civil society in Israel.
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 Mr. Amin Khalaf and Mr. Lee Gordon’s work together to develop the Hand in Hand bilingual and multicultural schools to be most successful in bringing people together and breaking down the barriers caused by misunderstanding and mistrust of “the other,” and selected Mr. Amin Khalaf and Mr. Lee Gordon, both Israeli citizens, to receive the $10,000 Prize this year. The award was presented by IIE Chief Operating Officer Peggy Blumenthal and IIE Trustee Victor J. Goldberg.
Amin Khalaf, co-founder of Hand in Hand, has taught in both Arab and Jewish public schools throughout Jerusalem and, since 1997, has lectured on education at the David Yellin College of Education in Jerusalem. Amin has also been intensely involved in national coexistence projects, including serving as a group facilitator for a Jewish-Arab dialogue group. Amin earned his M.A. and B.A. in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he also received his teaching certificate in 1990. In 1997, he participated in the International Visitor Leadership Program, coming to the United States on a State Department-sponsored program to meet with experts on the topic of "Civil Education in the United States." He is co-founder and co-director of Hand in Hand, overseeing the organization’s day-to-day operations in partnership with a pair of Jewish and Arab principals in each of the three schools. A native of the Arab village Muqibla in northern Israel, Amin now lives in Jerusalem.
Hand in Hand co-founder Lee Gordon lived in Israel for two decades, during which he became an Israeli citizen and was actively involved in Jewish-Arab dialogue. Originally from the United States, Lee earned an M.A. in Social Work from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and graduated from the Mandel Institute's prestigious School for Educational Leadership. Lee is a veteran social activist and community organizer, having worked and volunteered for numerous organizations and projects in Israel. He is currently executive director of American Friends of Hand in Hand, which works to raise support and awareness throughout the United States, and he remains active in Hand in Hand’s operations in Israel.
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. Mr. Khalaf was eligible for the Prize because of his participation in the International Visitor Leadership Program sponsored by 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, 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 second annual Goldberg IIE Prize in 2006 were Ibrahim Abu Shindi and Hadas Kaplan, for their Arab Jewish Community Center in Jaffa. 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 Victory 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.
Vic Goldberg and IIE’s COO Peggy Blumenthal
are available for interview upon request.