NEW YORK, June 22, 2015—Yehuda Stolov and Salah Aladdin, two leaders of The Interfaith Encounter Association, received the 2015 IIE Victor J. Goldberg Prize for Peace in the Middle East for leading grass roots interfaith dialogue and cross-cultural study groups that bring Jews, Muslims, Christians and Druze together on a very personal level to share their cultures, beliefs, and traditions across religious and cultural divides.
The award, which includes a $10,000 prize, was presented at a June 22 ceremony in Jerusalem by Victor J. Goldberg, a retired IBM executive who is a longtime Trustee of the New York-based Institute of International Education and who established and endowed the prize in 2005. Thomas Genton, Counselor for Press and Cultural Affairs at the American Embassy in Tel Aviv and Richard Buangan, Consul for Press and Cultural Affairs at the American Consulate General in Jerusalem spoke at the Prize ceremony.
Mr. Stolov and Mr. Aladdin believe that the different communities have to learn to interact positively as a pre-condition for sustainable political agreement, and the process towards it has to include all parts of the respective societies, regardless of their political aspirations. Their work facilitates interaction among individuals who might not otherwise ever have a chance to meet one another, and encourages individuals to confront their own prejudices and fears of “the other.” Their goal is to replace mistrust and fear with mutual understanding, respect and trust, making it possible to explore the differences between the traditions respectfully and constructively and to develop friendships among people who may disagree.
Dr. Stolov, IEA’s executive director, founded the Interfaith Encounter Association in 2001 in the belief that no political arrangement can be sustained over time without peaceful relations on the grassroots level; the different communities cannot avoid interaction in a small area in which the distance between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is never more than sixty miles. In 2002, Mr. Aladdin joined IEA as the Muslim founding coordinator of its first group of young adults, the Jerusalem Youth Interfaith Encounter group. Since that time he has taken on additional leadership roles; in addition to his activity with the Jerusalem YIE group, he has been the Financial Manager of IEA since 2003, and since 2008, the organization’s assistant director.
In its thirteen years of existence, the IEA has held more than 1,900 programs. Since its first group in 2001, the IEA has expanded to include 71 ongoing interfaith community groups from the Upper Galilee to Eilat. Currently, there are 15 groups that bring Israelis and West Bank Palestinians together on a regular basis, bringing together all communities. In 2014, more than 4,000 men and women of all ages took part in IEA projects such as Women’s Interfaith Encounters, Youth Interfaith Encounters, The Israeli-Palestinian Dialogue, and The Middle East Abrahamic Forum. Some IEA groups are open to everyone, while others are specifically for young adults or women, for educators, religious leaders, midwives, or college students.
In presenting the award, IIE Trustee Victor J. Goldberg said, “This award recognizes innovation, and rewards 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 that the dedication shown by our prize winners will inspire others to join together across these divides to advance the cause of peace in the coming years.”
IIE, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1919 and headquartered in New York City, created the Goldberg IIE Prize with an endowment from IIE’s Executive Committee member and former Vice Chairman, Victor J. Goldberg. The Selection Committee for the Prize includes leading experts from academia, the non-profit sector, and government.
About Yehuda Stolov
Yehuda Stolov is the executive director of the Interfaith Encounter Association, an organization working for sustainable, peaceful inter-communal coexistence through the use of an interactive interfaith encounter approach. The goal is to foster respectful and friendly relations between people and communities in Israel and the Middle East. Dr. Stolov is a member of many international interreligious organizations, including the Steering Committee for the United Nations Decade of Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace and the Trialogue of Cultures of the Herbert Quant Foundation. He is active in many interfaith activities in Israel and the recipient of the Immortal Chaplains Foundation 2006 Prize for Humanity. Dr. Stolov has lectured at many international conferences and written publications on religion, peace, and interfaith topics. He has a B.S. and an M.Sc. in Physics and a Ph.D. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
About Salah Aladdin
Salah Aladdin serves in a consulting capacity as the assistant director of the Interfaith Encounter Association, where he began working as an accounted and was the founder and facilitator of IEA’s second group, the Jerusalem Youth Interfaith Encounter. He works at the Ministry of Finance in Jerusalem, in the Capital Markets, Insurance and Savings Division. He is also a leader of Al-Razi, a non-profit society which assists outstanding students to continue their academic education, and was a founder of Win Win Jerusalem, which was recognized by MIT’s Just Jerusalem Competition for its program combining community trainings with multicultural tourism and economic empowerment. He is a member of organizations such as the Jerusalem Youth Club, Jerusalem Sports Association, and Al-Manar, organizations which work with children, youth, women and families in East Jerusalem, and of the International Association for Religious Freedom. He has a BA in accounting and economics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an MBA from the Open University – Jerusalem, and took part in the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) to the United States in 2012.
About the Institute of International Education
The Institute of International Education is a world leader in the international exchange of people and ideas. An independent, not-for-profit organization founded in 1919, IIE has a network of 19 offices and affiliates worldwide and over 1,200 member institutions. IIE designs and implements programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals and trainees from all sectors with funding from government agencies, foundations, and corporations. IIE also conducts policy research and program evaluations, and provides advising and counseling on international education and opportunities abroad.
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 Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee and the board of Education Through Music.
About the Prize
The Institute of International Education awards the IIE Victor J. Goldberg Prize for Peace in the Middle East annually 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. 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.
Chaired by Thomas S. Johnson, the Chairman of IIE’s Board of Trustees and retired Chairman and CEO of GreenPoint Financial Corporation, the committee includes: Susan Berresford, former President of the Ford Foundation; Peter Edelman, Co-Director of the Joint Degree in Law and Public Policy and Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center and past Board President of the New Israel Fund; Alain McNamara, Executive Director, Jordanian-American Commission for Educational Exchange (JACEE); Kenton Keith, retired Senior Vice President of the Meridian International Center, Former Ambassador to Qatar and Director of USIA’s Office of North African, Near Eastern, and South Asian Affairs; Maisa Galal, Director of Human Resources, General Motors Egypt; and Harold Tanner, an investment banker and former President of the American Jewish Committee and head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.