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Berelson Prize Awarded to Hagar: Jewish-Arab Education for Equality

Jun. 15, 2017

Above (left to right): Prof. Steve Rosen, Adv. Afnan Abu Taha​, Prof. Rivka Carmi 

The 2017 William Berelson Prize for the Promotion of Jewish-Arab Understanding in Memory of Yitzhak Rabin was awarded this week to Hagar: Jewish-Arab Education for Equality. Hagar runs a preschool, nursery school and elementary school in Beer-Sheva for Jewish and Arab children who study together and play together.

William Berelson, a California businessman who passed away in 1997, inaugurated the prize at BGU for those who promote peace between neighbors. 

Hagar: Jewish-Arab Education for Equality is dedicated to creating a shared space for Jewish and Arab residents of the Negev - a space based on the foundations of multiculturalism, bilingualism and equality. Through the establishment of bilingual, integrated schools and a vibrant shared community, Hagar provides sustainable alternatives for civic engagement, education and pedagogy, which bring hope for a more peaceful future in the Negev. 

“I am very impressed that what was once just a vision has become such a vibrant reality 10 years later,” BGU President Prof. Rivka Carmi said at the prize ceremony. “It is only through the persistence, dedication and commitment of those involved that Hagar has flourished,” she said. “I am sure that the education towards tolerance, mutual respect, and understanding different narratives will remain with the children their whole lives,” she added. 

Adv. Afnan Abu Taha, Executive Director of the Hagar Association, “We are moved by this great honor. It is an important recognition of our achievements.” 

Prof. Steve Rosen, BGU’s Vice President for External Affairs added, “This is an honor for me. You teach the values of respect and equality. This is an amazing opportunity for our children here in the South. We at BGU strive in the same manner to give everyone equal opportunities.” “I cannot think of anything more fitting than to bestow this prize on you,” he concluded. 

Prof. Alean Al-Krenawi, a member of the prize committee, noted how impressed he was with Hagar. “I was very impressed. The reality is complex and distance is the enemy. This is how you educate for multiculturalism and to accept the Other.” 

In recent years, Hagar has doubled the number of pupils in its preschools and this coming fall will open a second kindergarten class and a second first grade class. They have also begun discussing the opening of a middle school and high school.


Above (left to right): Prof. Jiwchar Ganor, Prof. Steve Rosen, Adv. Afnan Abu Taha​, Prof. Rivka Carmi​, Prof. Alean Al-Krenawi​