2006.03.20: March 20, 2006: Headlines: Religion: Negotiation: Community: Jewish Toledo: Religious leaders try out a negotiating approach that is the brainchild of Harrison Owen, a U.S.-born Anglican priest who used to work in the Peace Corps

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Peace Corps Library: Religion: January 23, 2005: Index: PCOL Exclusive: Religion : 2006.03.20: March 20, 2006: Headlines: Religion: Negotiation: Community: Jewish Toledo: Religious leaders try out a negotiating approach that is the brainchild of Harrison Owen, a U.S.-born Anglican priest who used to work in the Peace Corps

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Religious leaders try out a negotiating approach that is the brainchild of Harrison Owen, a U.S.-born Anglican priest who used to work in the Peace Corps

Religious leaders try out a negotiating approach that is the brainchild of Harrison Owen, a U.S.-born Anglican priest who used to work in the Peace Corps

Religious leaders tried out a negotiating approach that is the brainchild of Harrison Owen, a U.S.-born Anglican priest who used to work in the Peace Corps and has spent the last 20 years applying the technique to solving political and business problems around the world. The idea was for the 250 delegates from more than 30 countries to identify key themes of discord spontaneously. They wrote down about 50 of them, including Palestinian suicide bombings, Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. They then posted the notes in English, Arabic, Hebrew, French and Spanish on a bulletin board and pledged to attend workshops on those themes.

Religious leaders try out a negotiating approach that is the brainchild of Harrison Owen, a U.S.-born Anglican priest who used to work in the Peace Corps

Imams and rabbis brainstorm over peace at meeting in Spain

By DANIEL WOOLLS (Associated Press Writer)
Associated Press
03/20/2006

Caption: Open Space at Belfast City Council Staff Satisfaction Conference

SEVILLE, Spain - In an offbeat approach to problem-solving, imams in flowing robes and rabbis in black suits squatted on the floor, grabbed magic markers and jotted down issues they see as critical for bringing about peace between their faithful.

The brainstorming session led by an American communications consultant came at a four-day international congress of Muslim and Jewish leaders that opened Monday in this southern city known for religious harmony when the Moors ruled Spain.

The idea was for the 250 delegates from more than 30 countries to identify key themes of discord spontaneously. They wrote down about 50 of them, including Palestinian suicide bombings, Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. They then posted the notes in English, Arabic, Hebrew, French and Spanish on a bulletin board and pledged to attend workshops on those themes.

The results of the discussions will be published after the Second World Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace ends Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, tensions over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict flared at the meeting.

The imam of the Gaza Strip, Imad al-Falouji, told reporters Palestinian attacks against Israelis are not about religion but rather the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. Without explicitly endorsing suicide attacks against Israelis, he asked: "How can I talk about ending violence if Israel continues its policies?"

Rabbi Israel Singer, a leader of the World Jewish Congress, likened the meeting and the momentum behind it to the biblical tale of Noah building an ark to survive the world's destruction.

"We are standing on the edge of the precipice and looking down," Singer said as the meeting began.

Later the religious leaders tried out a negotiating approach that is the brainchild of Harrison Owen, a U.S.-born Anglican priest who used to work in the Peace Corps and has spent the last 20 years applying the technique to solving political and business problems around the world.

"It works because self-organizing systems work," said Owen, who is a spry 70.

The setting looked like this: delegates sat in concentric circles. At Owen's signal, first shyly but then in droves, they moved to the center of the room, squatted on small orange cushions and wrote down issues they want to debate.

Eliezer Weisz, a rabbi in Israel, said he had never seen such a thing but that maybe writing down problem areas - as opposed to saying them aloud in a formal setting - would help people to communicate more from the heart.

"Perhaps it is a way to get people to interact," he said.

When it was all over, the bulletin board was plastered with dozens of themes for debate such as how to guarantee respect for holy sites, how to instill tolerance among young people, and whether tolerance should extend to the intolerant.

The forum, organized by a Paris-based peace foundation Hommes de Parole, was first held last year in Brussels, Belgium. Organizers abruptly changed the schedule and held the brainstorming session earlier than usual because a morning meeting that was supposed to focus on family issues strayed from that agenda and quickly became heated.

Several imams said it was pointless to try to talk about peace without addressing political issues such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"This morning things got a little exciting and that is good," Owen said, insisting that situations of confusion, conflict and even chaos provide an energy that fuels resolution.





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Story Source: Jewish Toledo

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Religion; Negotiation; Community

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