IIE Awards the Victor J. Goldberg Prize to Leaders of Constituencies for Peace – Religious Leaders Initiative

Award recognizes Ghadir Hani and Dror Rubin for their work to engage Muslim and Jewish leaders

JERUSALEM, June 25, 2024 — The Institute of International Education (IIE) awarded the 20th annual IIE Victor J. Goldberg Prize for Peace in the Middle East to Ghadir Hani and Dror Rubin for their work  together to engage Muslim and Jewish leaders in Israel to positively influence their communities to support peace by disseminating peaceful messages based on religious language and values. The co-founders will share a US$20,000 prize.

During this time of violent conflict, the 2024 IIE Goldberg Prize recognizes the leadership roles Ghadir and Dror have played in the Constituencies for Peace – Religious Leaders Initiative, developed by Search for Common Ground’s Jerusalem office. This initiative demonstrates the diversity of voices on both sides and the work that is being done to find common ground between Palestinians and Israelis. The prize recognizes Ghadir and Dror not only for their courageous efforts and achievements but also for their commitment to engaging religious actors and communities in the region as a force for peace.

The initiative advances mutual learning, trust, and collaboration among the leaders, reflected in common religious beliefs and community interests, and an understanding that religious actors must be included in any negotiated settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict for it to succeed. Now in its eighth year, the program has engaged scores of male and female religious actors who together have developed and are disseminating an educational curriculum in religious institutions, conducted joint lectures, developed a media platform reaching more than a million people, led learning tours to increase dialog and cooperation in Israel’s mixed cities, formed interreligious women’s neighborhood groups, and created new emergency initiatives after October 7th.

The initiatives that Dror and Ghadir joined together to lead have influenced thousands of pupils: young people and adults, men and women, Jews and Arabs. One of their key accomplishments has been their role in developing an educational curriculum “Judaism and Islam in the Holy Land’, and developing Jewish and Arab dialogue meetings that brought thousands of Muslim and Jewish students together to learn about the basic values of the religions, the holiness of life, holiness of the land, and the possibility of believers of different faiths to live side by side.

At a time when the easy and perhaps natural thing is to choose one side or the other, Ghadir and Dror say, “I’m choosing to support human beings. I choose humanity.” They feel in their hearts that they must have room for all the voices: “The only future here is to have sympathy to hold the pain of the other… to hold hands to develop the trust to build peace …and to mobilize the voice of the religions to solve these problems now. So, we must engage them in chasing peace and not just wait until it comes.”

Victor J. Goldberg, a retired IBM executive and longtime IIE trustee who created and endowed the prize in 2005, presented the award in a virtual award ceremony that brought the winners together with colleagues, friends, and supporters of interfaith initiatives across Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

“In this time of violent conflict, we believe it is more important than ever to share stories of hope so that they may encourage and inspire others. Ghadir and Dror are inspiring examples of the brave individuals and groups who are working together to engage religious actors and communities in the region, and find common ground between them. Most importantly, they have not lost their hope or their commitment to peace,” said Mr. Goldberg. “As we mark to the 20th anniversary of the IIE Goldberg Prize in 2024, we recognize the courage and conviction of Ghadir and Dror as well as the accomplishments of all the inspirational pairs of winners who we have recognized in previous years.”

IIE CEO Allan E. Goodman joined Mr. Goldberg in presenting the award, commenting, “The IIE Goldberg Prize is a testament to the vision of what courageous individuals working together can actually achieve.  Courage and compassion underlie all that Ghadir and Dror and our past laureates have done. People who started out hating each other and rejecting their respective narratives somehow managed to overcome all that to do something good. They re-wrote textbooks to stop demonizing ‘the other,’ they consoled families whose children had killed each other so that their grandchildren would not grow up filled with hate, they provided emergency medical services regardless of religion, they drove sick children to hospitals for cancer treatment and then waited hours to bring them back home. During these difficult times, we look to these courageous and compassionate individuals as rays of hope.”

Following the award presentation, Ghadir and Dror spoke about the work they are doing together to build platforms of mutual trust to facilitate resolving issues constructively together. 

Learn more about the previous 25 pairs of winners on the IIE Goldberg Prize website, and in this report: “IIE Victor J. Goldberg Prize: 15 Years of Encouraging Grassroots Partnerships in Peacebuilding.”

About the Institute of International Education IIE has been a world leader in international education since 1919. 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. Follow us and learn more at: IIE:  www.iie.org, Twitter @IIEGlobal, Facebook IIEGlobal.

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 has served as a trustee of the International Fellowship Program, a Ford Foundation initiative for underserved populations around the world and is on the Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee.

About the IIE Goldberg Prize IIE awards the Victor J. Goldberg Prize for Peace in the Middle East annually to recognize outstanding collaborative 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 $20,000 prize. The winners are chosen by a selection committee that includes leaders from business, academia, the not-for-profit sector, and government. Learn more about the IIE Goldberg Prize at www.iie.org/GoldbergPrize.

2024 IIE Goldberg Prize Winners — Ghadir Hani and Dror Rubin

Ghadir Hani

Ghadir took part in training through the Search for Common Ground Religious Leaders’ Program before joining with Dror to co-facilitate religious community engagement activities. As a volunteer and an educator, she gives lectures throughout Israel on topics such as the sanctity of the land, the sanctity of the human being, the value of life, Arab society, Arab-Jewish partnerships and challenges, and feminism in Islam. She has served as a member of the executive committee of Al-Sanabel for Economic and Social Development in the Negev and the Hagar Association for Bilingual Education, a member of the Search for Common Ground Fellows Program for a Religious Interfaith Vision, and co-coordinator for the southern region for the Women Wage Peace movement, in addition to volunteering with dozens of additional community and interfaith groups.

Ghadir works as the coordinator of the Mixed Cities Program at the Mediation Center in Acre, and manages the Habima/Al-Minbar Facebook page, which publishes content, op-eds, videos and podcasts on religious topics from Judaism and Islam to promote peace, through Search for Common Ground. Previous positions include serving as the Co-CEO of the Al-Bakr Association for Early Childhood Development in the Negev; Mahal-Lee Project coordinator at the Massawa Center; director of finance for the organization Standing Together, director of tourism, women’s training and community relations for the Wadi Attir project; and as coordinator of economic development and women’s empowerment in the Department of Economic Development (AJEEK) at The Negev Institute.  She has worked as a teacher, administrator, and counselor at numerous schools and community centers. Ghadir has completed extensive training, coursework and certifications through programs such as the Gender Perspective Negotiation Program – Itach Ma’aki Women’s Israeli non-profit organization, The Heschel Center for Sustainability Fellowship Program, and the Tikkun Fellows Program. She has completed  courses on leadership training for senior executives, labor organizers, and women’s rights through the Shatil, Eitam and Ma’an organizations, as well as continuing education in Business Entrepreneurship for Young Entrepreneurs. She is a graduated of a group facilitation course for senior facilitators in a multicultural society through Kaye College, Israel, and a Young Arab Leadership Course through the Arab Youth Movement. She is a graduate of the Acre Comprehensive Arab High School.

Dror Rubin

Dror has served as  the Senior Facilitator and Chief Field Coordinator of Constituencies for Peace – Religious Community Engagement – an initiative developed and directed by the international nongovernmental peacebuilding organization Search for Common Ground. The initiative uses a religious lens to build mutual trust among Muslim and Jewish religious leaders and provides leadership capacities, mediation, and dialogue skills to advance proactive peacebuilding in religious communities and educational institutions. Most recently, after November 2023, he co-facilitated of a series of six interfaith leadership meetings of Haifa’s Religious Assembly, in collaboration with Haifa University and  Search for Common Ground, to build trust and reduce tensions among Haifa’s religious communities in the shadow of the Israeli-Hamas war. He has served as a mediator and group facilitator in multiple businesses, non-profit organizations, and schools. Dror holds a bachelor’s degree from Ben Gurion University, and a master’s in conflict resolution, negotiation and mediation from Bar Ilan University, and has completed a graduate course for Israeli and Palestinian peace activists at the European University of Rome, a dialogue group facilitator course at the Oranim College of Education, and mediation courses including expertise in restorative justice processes for youth crimes and victims the Gevim Mediation School in Israel.

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