— On June 24 at The American Center in Jerusalem, U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Luis G. Moreno and U.S. Consulate General Deputy Principal Officer Thomas Duffy will host a reception to honor the recipients of the 2008 Victor J. Goldberg IIE Prize for Peace in the Middle East. Aziz Abu Sarah and Lily Yaffe will receive the Goldberg IIE Prize for their work with The Parents Circle Family Forum, conducting educational activities that draw on their own very moving personal stories and the experiences of hundreds of bereaved Palestinian and Israeli families who have lost immediate family members due to the violence in the region.
Mr. Abu Sarah and Mrs. Yaffe have played an important part in the Dialogue Meetings conducted by The Parents Circle Family Forum, with the goal of creating a gradual change in the views and perceptions of Israeli and Palestinian youth. As trained facilitators, they reach out to young people in Israeli and Palestinian high schools, youth movements and community groups. By describing their own deeply personal loss and their unwillingness to avenge, they encourage the students to begin the long process of transforming their own feelings of suspicion and fear toward the other side. The award recognizes their success in promoting reconciliation as an alternative to hatred and revenge.
The Institute of International Education (IIE), a New York-based non-profit organization founded in 1919, created the Goldberg IIE Prize with an endowment from IIE’s Executive Committee member and former vice chairman Victor J. Goldberg. The Prize recognizes 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. IIE’s Chief Operating Officer, Peggy Blumenthal will join Mr. Goldberg in presenting the winners with the $10,000 Prize.
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 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. Ms. Yaffe was eligible for the Prize because of her participation in the Fulbright Program sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.
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, Former president of the Ford Foundation; 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 and head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
According to Institute of International Education Chief Operating Officer Peggy Blumenthal, “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 third annual Goldberg IIE Prize in 2007 were Amin Khalaf and Lee Gordon, founders of Hand in Hand: Center for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel. Previous winners were: Ibrahim Abu Shindi and Hadas Kaplan, for their Arab Jewish Community Center in Jaffa (2006); and Professors Dan Bar-On and Sami Adwan, for their shared history project, “Learning Each Other’s Historical Narrative” (2005). For further information on the Prize, see 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, 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 20 offices worldwide, over 900 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.
Vic Goldberg and IIE's COO Peggy Blumenthal are available for interview upon request.
Parents Circle Families Forum:
Bereaved Families Supporting Peace, Reconciliation and Tolerancewww.theparentscircle.com
The Parents Circle Family Forum conducts more than 1,000 lectures and dialogues each year with Israeli and Palestinian audiences. Many Israelis and Palestinians who participate hear and are willing to listen to a message of reconciliation not only from their own side, but also from that of the other. The activities promote understanding between victims of the violence. They come to appreciate the meaning of bereavement on both sides, and understand that hope can grow out of despair and that Israelis and Palestinians can work together toward peace, even if the “other side” was responsible for the death of their child, sibling or parent.
For most of the participants it is their first opportunity to meet a representative from “the other side” who does not fit existing stereotypes such as a soldier or a settler or a terrorist. By describing their own personal loss and their decision to opt for non-violence, the group”s members, all representing bereaved families, prove to be the most effective promoters of peace and reconciliation. The stereotypes are overcome by the recognition of the pain and suffering of the other, the reminder of the human being on the other side, and the inspiration of hope that many young people have lost.
Aziz Abu Sarah
Aziz Abu Sarah is Chairman of the Parents Circle Families Forum and a co-host of Radio All for Peace, and has served as a lecturer and facilitator on reconciliation, tolerance and peace since 2003. He earned a BA in Business and Tourism Management from Latvia University, and has done Masters coursework in Transformation of Human Systems. When Mr. Abu Sarah was 10 years old, his 18-year-old brother was taken from the family home and imprisoned, accused of throwing stones at Israeli cars. He was beaten and kept in prison for 11 months, until he was released in critical condition and died a few weeks later. After high school, Mr. Abu Sarah studied Hebrew in order to pursue his goals for further education, and he began to meet Jewish people who were not soldiers, and who shared his interests. He chose to put aside his own desire for revenge and instead use his pain to spread peace.
A long time educator, Lily Yaffe was a high school teacher for 25 years, and later worked in the Curriculum Planning Center in the Ministry of Education before retiring as a lecturer at Beit Berl College in 2005. She earned a Masters degree in Education (Curriculum Planning) and another in Criminology, and studied at the University of Minnesota through the Fulbright Program. Mrs. Yaffe”s eldest son, Ronen, was a counselor in a youth movement when he was drafted to the IDF during the first Lebanon war in 1983. After eight months of training, his unit was assigned to the border of Lebanon. At the age of 19, he was killed in a battle after his post was attacked. Mrs. Yaffe joined the Parents Circle in 1997 to follow Ronen”s path in working toward peace and reconciliation. She has been an active lecturer and facilitator of dialogue meetings, a member of the PCFF Israeli-Palestinian Women”s Group, and a member of the PCFF delegation to Turin, Italy.
The Journal News: Victor J. Goldberg prize honors individual Palestinians, Israelis who work together for peace