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