June 27, 2011, Updated September 12, 2012

Amal Elsana Alh’jooj and Vivian Silver, co-executive directors of the Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development, are this year’s winners of the Victor J. Goldberg Prize for Peace in the Middle East.

Peace prize recipients

Award initiator Vic Goldberg, winner Amal Elsana Alh’jooj, winner Vivian Silver and Peggy Blumenthal, of the Institute of International Education.

Alh’jooj, an Arab citizen of Israel, and Silver, a Jewish citizen of Israel, won the honor for their efforts to promote peace and development within society. Highlighted was their initiative to train and empower the Arab Bedouin community of the Negev with a particular emphasis on the crucial role of women in the process of community development, through the Arab-Jewish Center for Equality, Empowerment and Cooperation.

“In a sense we are a microcosm of what our two peoples could potentially be – open to each other’s cultures, respectful of our differences, working for a better world for both our peoples,” said Silver.

Vivian and Amal

Goldberg Award winners Vivian Silver and Amal Elsana Alh’jooj.

In 2005, Vic Goldberg – a retired IBM executive – initiated the prize as his way of promoting peace in the region. He wasn’t sure he’d find the Israeli Arab and Jewish people working together, but he organized the $10,000 annual prize just the same.

Goldberg told The Wall Street Journal that he is now encouraged by the number of groups that have applied for his prize.

“The situation there has deteriorated and it’s never going to be right unless people work together,” Goldberg told The Wall Street Journal. “If you expose people to other cultures, your chance for world peace is better.”

To date, there have been 14 winners of the Goldberg Award.

Alh’jooj pointed out how this prize is especially significant because “while I have received prizes in the United States and Europe, this is the first time that I have the honor of having my work celebrated here, together with my family, friends and my people.”

She added: “My people are strong. We are part of the solution and not the problem.”


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