the net of people deeply affected by political violence
Goldberg IIE Prize for Peace in the Middle East Honors Bassam Aramin and Avner Wishnitzer
Thursday 15 July 2010
NEW YORK, July 6, 2010 — The Institute of International Education (IIE) announced today that Bassam Aramin and Avner Wishnitzer, two of the founders of the group Combatants for Peace (CFP), have been selected to receive the 2010 Victor J. Goldberg IIE Prize for Peace in the Middle East. IIE Trustee Victor J. Goldberg created the prize to honor the outstanding contributions of two individuals, one Arab and one Israeli, working together to advance the cause of peace in the Middle East. The award, which includes a $10,000 prize, will be presented in October in Jerusalem at a ceremony hosted by the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv and the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem.
The winners will be honored for their joint leadership of Combatants for Peace. The organization was established in 2005 by Palestinians and Israelis who had played active roles in violence in the region and then committed themselves instead to non-violent activism. The objectives of CFP are to raise awareness and promote an understanding among Israelis and Palestinians regarding the hopes and suffering of the other side; create partners for dialogue; educate both sides towards reconciliation and non-violent struggle; and impose political pressure on both governments to stop the cycle of violence, end the occupation and resume a constructive dialogue.
Bassam Aramin, now 42, grew up in the Palestinian village of Sa’ir. As a youth Mr. Aramin spent almost ten years in Israeli jails for his involvement in a group that staged an attack on an Israeli military patrol. His time in prison led him to consider non-violent activism and upon his release in 1994, he participated in many peace-building initiatives. In 2005, Mr. Aramin helped to establish CFP and has been a movement leader ever since, even after his ten-year-old daughter was killed by the gunfire of Israeli soldiers as she was leaving school in 2007. His mission is to prevent the death of more children, both Palestinian and Israeli.
Avner Wishnitzer, now 33, grew up in Kibbutz Kvutsat Shiller and served as a combatant in Sayeret Matkal, an elite special forces unit of the Israel Defense Forces. As a reserve soldier in that same unit, he refused to serve in the occupied territories, and in 2005, Mr. Wishnitzer, along with other Israeli refusniks met with Mr. Aramin and other ex-combatants in Beit Jalah, an area where most Israelis would not consider traveling at the time. This meeting led to the formation of CFP and Mr. Wishnitzer continues to be a core group leader.
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 that the courage and imagination shown by our prize winners will inspire others to join together across these divides to advance the cause of peace in the coming years."
To be eligible for the Goldberg IIE Prize, at least one of the nominated individuals must be an alumnus/a of a program administered by IIE. Mr. Wishnitzer is currently a Fulbright Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Washington where he is continuing his research in Middle Eastern history. Mr. Aramin participated in the International Visitors Leadership Program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State in 2009. He was part of an 18-member international group who visited Washington, DC; Chicago, IL; South Bend, IN; and Tucson, AZ to explore issues related to U.S. perspectives on the use of preventive diplomacy and conflict resolution in both domestic and international spheres.
IIE, a non-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.
Mr. Goldberg and IIE’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Peggy Blumenthal, will present the 2010 winners with the $10,000 Prize at a ceremony in Jerusalem in October. According to Ms. Blumenthal, "The Goldberg IIE Prize honors outstanding collaboration by past winners and, we hope, will encourage other courageous professionals in the region to develop new initiatives which will advance the cause of peace in the Middle East. The winners we celebrate each year exemplify the kinds of joint action that are needed to resolve conflicts in this region and around the world. They embody Vic Goldberg’s long-time commitment to bettering the world through international cooperation."
Combatants for Peace
[(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, nonprofit organization founded in 1919, IIE has network of 18 offices worldwide and over 1,000 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.)]