BY AMY CALDER | WATERVILLE John Wallach, an award-winning journalist and executive director of an organization that promotes peace in the Middle East, will speak Friday at the Mid-Maine Global Forum.
Wallach heads up Seeds of Peace, an organization that brings together Arab and Israeli teenagers before fear, mistrust and prejudice blind them from seeing the human face of their enemies, according to Martha J. Denney of the Global Forum.
Seeds of Peace, founded by Wallach in 1993, began as an international summer camp for Israeli and Palestinian youths in Western Maine, she said.
“The program is designed to begin where international agreements end, reversing the legacy of hatred by nurturing lasting friendships that become the basis of mutual understanding and respect,” Denney said.
“It trains participants in effective conflict resolution techniques, with the goal of helping them become the seeds from which an enduring peace will grow.”
The Mid-Maine Global Forum is a nonpartisan resource group that seeks to expand understanding of international issues, according to Denney. It has received financial support from the Waterville Rotary Club, REM and Colby College.
Wallach’s Seeds of Peace program has grown to include more than 150 people from eight countries, according to Denney. Alumni include more than 500 Israeli, Palestinian, Egyptian, Jordanian, Moroccan, Tunisian and Qatari teenagers. Delegations from America’s inner cities and Bosnia-Herzegovina also have recently taken part.
In 1994, he was named Washingtonian of the Year by “Washingtonian Magazine.” He received a UNESCO Peace Prize in 1996 from the United Nations, and in 1997 was decorated by King Hussein with the Legion of Honor of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
President Clinton has also paid tribute to Wallach, noting that his “commitment to spreading the message of tolerance, justice and human rights has helped so many people.”
Clinton said Wallach has “planted the seeds for peace in the generation that will one day be leading our world.”
Wallach was foreign editor for the Hearst Newspapers from 1968 to 1994. His articles were syndicated to several hundred newspapers through The New York Times News Service.
He was seen regularly on PBS’ “Washington Week in Review,” CNN, NBC’s “Meet the Press” and other network news shows.
In 1980, he was named the British Broadcasting Corp.’s First Visiting Foreign Affairs Correspondent, and has been a regular contributor to National Public Radio, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and BBC.
For breaking the Iran-Contra scandal story, he received the Edwin Hood Award, the National Press Club’s highest honor. He also broke the story about the CIA’s covert mining of Nicaraguan harbors.
He was founding editor of WE/Mbl, the first independent weekly newspaper in Russia, and was founder of the Chautauqua Conference on U.S.-Soviet Relations, for which he received the 1991 Medal of Friendship from President Mikhail Gorbachev.
President Jimmy Carter also presented him with an award for his coverage of the 1978 Israeli-Egyptian Camp David accords.