Two initiatives were awarded the Israeli Hope prize on Monday, a first-of-its-kind award launched by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin that carried a NIS 10,000 ($2.6k) cash prize. The winners were Tech2Peace, an independent initiative launched by students and volunteers that runs IT and peace-building seminars to create positive relationships between young Israelis and Palestinians, and Desert Stars, a leadership program for members of the Bedouin community.
The award was first announced last year during a visit by Rivlin to the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and the ceremony took place at the university on Monday.
Although he did not attend, the president congratulated the winning organizations, according to a BGU press statement, saying “two unique groups were chosen out of a large field of candidates.”
“Desert Stars is raising a new generation of leaders in the Bedouin community, while Tech2Peace…forms connections between Jews and Arabs via the language of technology and joint study. The vision of both these groups and their achievements truly represent a chance for Israeli Hope. This prize is our way of thanking you and shaking your hands,” Rivlin said.
BGU President Professor Rivka Carmi praised the groups for their contributions to diversity and inclusion in Israeli society, saying their contributions were at least as important as groundbreaking academic research.
“Nanotechnology, electric cars and brain research are very important. But if there is one thing that could prevent our (continued status as a) start-up nation it would be to allow the gaps in our society and the disconnect between different elements of our society to continue to grow. BGU’s contribution to this issue has been significant and noteworthy, and this prize recognizes and will continue to recognize each year, individuals and groups that have worked to bring the disparate parts of our society together. At the end of the day, we are one, multi-faceted human tapestry,” she said.