On June 22, the Institute of International Education presented Yehuda Stolov and Salah Aladdin, two leaders of The Interfaith Encounter Association, with 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 ceremony in Jerusalem by Victor J. Goldberg, a retired IBM executive who is a longtime Trustee of the New York-based organization, 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.
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. 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.
These individual groups and participants make great stories – and since there are so many different groups, Yehuda and Salah can help connect you with people from almost any age group, profession, or geographic location, based on your particular interest and audience.
Here is the write-up of the award ceremony and biographical information on Yehuda and Salah.
This article in Israel21c provides further details on the impact of the encounter groups.
Video: TedXJaffa: Dr. Yehuda Stolov “The Easy Way to Peace in the Holy Land”
Yehuda Stolov -- TedXJaffa Talk
In his TEDxJaffa talk, Dr. Yehuda Stolov presents the belief that peace in the Middle East is really quite simple -- if we focus on our commonalities of our faith, rather than that which separates us.
Yehuda is the executive director of the Interfaith Encounter Association, an organization that works to establish peaceful inter-communal relations in the Holy Land through active interfaith dialog.
Video: Israel 21C
Finding peace in Hebron
Interfaith Encounter, a Coexistence Group founded by Yehuda Stolov, arranges monthly meetings between Israelis and Palestinians. 8 Israelis visited their Palestinian counterparts in the West Bank city of Hebron, the first time Israelis had been in the Palestinian area of Hebron for 10 years.
Audio: Voice of Israel -- Radio interview: Forget All the Formal Peace Talks
Just Start Talking
Would you join a group of Muslims, Jews and Christians, just to talk, listen and learn about one another? Salah Aladdin and Yael Gidanyan from the Interfaith Encounter Association are doing exactly that, along with dozens of coordinators who have been leading hundreds of groups throughout Israel for over a decade. What happens when women from both sides of the conflict -- Jews from Jerusalem and Muslims and Christians from Bethlehem -- meet? Listen in to find out whether these kinds of peace talks are the ones we all need.
For more information please visit www.iie.org/GoldbergPrize
· About Victor J. Goldberg and the IIE Goldberg Prize
· Previous Winners (2005-2014)
· Interfaith Encounter Association website
· Institute of International Education website
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Photo provided by IIE