Volunteers work together across borders to provide access to medical treatment for Palestinians
JERUSALEM, June 12, 2019 — The Institute of International Education (IIE) today awarded the 15th annual $10,000 IIE Victor J. Goldberg Prize for Peace in the Middle East to Yuval Roth and Naeem Al-Baeda, an Israeli and Palestinian who have joined together to lead Road to Recovery (RtR), an organization of volunteers who drive Palestinians, mostly children, from their homes in the West Bank or Gaza to hospital appointments in Israel for urgent medical treatments that are not available in their home communities.
The ceremony was held June 12 at America House in Jerusalem, with remarks by Allan Goodman, IIE President & CEO; Chris Hodges, Public Affairs Officer at the Palestinian Affairs Unit of U.S. Embassy Jerusalem; and Terry Davidson, Public Affairs Officer at U.S. Embassy Jerusalem’s Branch Office in Tel Aviv.
The award is a symbol of the power of international education to bring people together across cultures to solve shared problems. Victor J. Goldberg, a retired IBM executive and longtime IIE trustee, created and endowed the prize in 2005. Since then, he has traveled to Jerusalem each year to present the prize in person.
Mr. Goldberg said, “In this 15th anniversary year, I am especially pleased to present the IIE Goldberg prize to Yuval Roth and Naeem Al-Baeda for their leadership of Road to Recovery. The Prize rewards their courage and commitment to providing access to humanitarian medical care across borders, working together to overcome the religious, cultural, ethnic and political issues which divide the region.”
While Road to Recovery is apolitical, its leaders believe that compassionate assistance presents a unique opportunity for Palestinians and Israelis to get to know each other, creates hope in this troubled region, and can contribute, at least in small part, to peace between the two peoples. In addition to providing transportation at no charge to the patient, the project also provides medical equipment for those in need and organizes special recreation days for patients and their families.
Established by Yuval Roth in 2010, Road to Recovery now has close to 2,000 active volunteers who made over 20,000 patient trips in 2018. This large-scale humanitarian effort creates a safe space for positive interaction and better understanding between Israelis and Palestinians. The Israeli volunteers come from every part of the country, and from every political persuasion and religious belief. Uniting them is the humanitarian mission of Road to Recovery and a shared belief that bridging gaps in healthcare can sow the seeds of coexistence.
To expand its operations on the West Bank and increase patient awareness of this free service, in 2017 RtR established a partnership with a Palestinian NGO, Green Land Society for Health Development, which is dedicated to improving health care and services for Palestinians. Green Land’s volunteers transport patients from their homes to the Israeli border, and from there, Israeli volunteers transport the patients to Israeli hospitals. Naeem Al‐Baeda, a Palestinian from the West Bank who works as a construction worker in Israel, coordinates patient transfers at the checkpoints to ensure a smooth process. Serving in a volunteer capacity for the past seven years, Naeem handles calls at construction sites and at home, from early in the morning to late at night, often facing difficult circumstances.
IIE president and CEO Allan Goodman joined Mr. Goldberg in presenting the award, commenting, “When we began this prize 15 years ago, I thought there would be some years when we would not even be able to make an award. Yet we have been able to make awards each year to inspiring individuals who demonstrate that humanity will endure even in the most difficult of times. The Prize’s success is a testament to Vic’s vision of courageous individuals working together across all sorts of walls to make the world we share a less dangerous place, and to the dedication of each of the pairs of winners that we have recognized over the years.”
Road to Recovery is an internationally-acclaimed Israeli NGO that operates as a key pillar of Project Rozana, launched in 2013 by Hadassah Australia, and inspired by the remarkable story of survival of a young Palestinian girl, Rozana Salawhi.
About the Institute of International Education (IIE)
Now celebrating its Centennial year, IIE was established in 1919 with the founding premise that international exchange could make the world a more interconnected place. IIE works to build more peaceful and equitable societies by advancing scholarship, building economies and promoting access to opportunity. As a not-for-profit with 18 offices and affiliates worldwide, IIE collaborates with a range of corporate, government and foundation partners across the globe to design and manage scholarship, study abroad, workforce training and leadership development programs.
IIE awards the Victor J. Goldberg Prize for Peace in the Middle East annually to recognize outstanding work being conducted jointly by two individuals, one Muslim Arab and one Jewish Israeli, working together to advance the cause of peace in the Middle East. The two individuals whose work is judged to be most successful in bringing people together and breaking down the barriers of hatred toward "the other" share a $10,000 prize. The Selection Committee for the Prize includes leaders from business, academia, the not-for-profit sector, and government.
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 director of Education Through Music which puts music programs in inner city schools; a member of the Advisory Committee of J Street; and a member of the Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee. He previously served as a trustee of the International Fellowship Program, a Ford Foundation initiative for underserved populations around the globe; president of the Scarsdale Foundation; chairman of the Scarsdale Planning Board; member of the Board of Governors of the American Jewish Committee; and trustee of New Alternatives for Children, Westchester Reform Temple, the Mental Health Association of Westchester, and the Westchester Non-Profit Loan Fund.