SOURCE: Vision Media

November 18, 2008 03:31 ET

Current Events and Politics: Vision.org Reports on the Middle East Conflict

In a Special Report, Key Peace Architects Speak With Vision.org About the Social Issues in the Middle East

PASADENA, CA--(Marketwire - November 18, 2008) - In a current events report titled "Peace Architects," Vision.org publisher David Hulme compiles interviews with Uri Savir, Shimon Peres, Ahmed Qurei and others to discover what can be done on the individual level to work toward peace in the Middle East.

The next diplomatic step in the pursuit of a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict will be a 2009 conference in Moscow, where envoys from the Quartet of mediators -- the US, the UN, the EU and Russia -- will once again try to push toward agreement on the core dividing issues.

By that time, two of the Quartet will be operating under new administrations: the US and Israel -- but even so, chances are slim that Moscow's conference will achieve any more than did recent talks in Annapolis and Egypt.

In the meantime, violence in West Bank villages and truce violations in Gaza suggest that the diplomatic intentions of top government officials do not always trickle down to ground level.

This state of affairs does not come as a surprise to seasoned Israeli peace negotiator Uri Savir. In his recent interview with Middle East scholar David Hulme, Savir explained that traditional peacemaking efforts haven't worked because they lack crucial elements.

Savir's new book, "Peace First," calls for a new model for achieving a resolution to the Middle East conflict, one that he calls "peace building" as opposed to "peacemaking."

"Peacemaking is a diplomatic craft, and it deals with solving past issues," Savir told Hulme. "Peace building is to create the future peace in terms of joint projects, in terms of people-to-people encounters, in terms of youth-to-youth encounters, in terms of tourism; because once the problems of the past are solved, there is a whole new reality that has to be built, which is a peace reality. It has psychological elements, social elements, economic elements and cultural elements."

To Savir, peace building is about changing the perceived self-identity of the people on the street and making them participants in the process rather than mere observers as leaders negotiate the Middle East conflict on the political stage.

But peace building is only part of the larger peace architecture pursued by the Peres Center for Peace -- the Israeli-based organization which Savir founded in 1996 with Shimon Peres, who wrote a foreword for Savir's book. In Savir's words, "this new peace architecture rests on the four pillars: participatory peace and 'glocalization,' peace ecology, peace building, and creative diplomacy."

The common denominator is that each of these four pillars requires a change in thinking on the civilian level: fear, suspicion and hate must be replaced with mutual understanding, respect and a sense of equality and justice.

Another key change in thinking concerns security in the Middle East. "Too often, peacemakers treat security as a means to achieve peace," says Savir, "but it should be the other way around. Only peace can achieve security."

Hulme's interview highlights Savir's competent understanding of the social issues in the Middle East and the peace process, while also offering the views of other key players in the conflict resolution. It may be that a change in thinking such as these peace architects promote is, in reality, the only viable solution to the region's long-standing impasse.

About Vision:

Vision.org is an online magazine with quarterly print issues that feature in-depth coverage of current social issues, religion and the Bible, history, family relationship topics and insights into philosophical, moral and ethical issues in society today. For a free subscription to the Vision quarterly magazine, visit their web site at http://www.vision.org/visionmedia/default.aspx

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