"Face to face for peace"
in bold is today's headline banner of the San Francisco Chronicle --
Thursday, June 5, 2003.
A color photo shows President Bush face to face indeed with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoiud Abbas.
Later Bush declared: "All here today now share a goal. The Holy Land must be shared between the state of Palestine and the state of Israel, living at peace with each other and with every nation of the Middle East."
This is the government peace process, which is designed to forge and enforce treaties.
On the same day where we live, the public
peace process also stepped ahead briskly to do what governments cannot --
change human relationships.
Fifty Palestinians and Jews, with some supportive others, answered the call to an Introductory Evening of relationship-building for newly-interested citizens that Thursday evening, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
It was at the restaurant of Nahida and Adham Salem of the sponsor Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group of San Mateo for the 134th meeting.
See PHOTOS on the Web at http://www.shutterfly.com/osi.jsp?i=67b0de21b33dfdcb458c .
Their was food, of course -- falafels, humus, pita, lentils and rice, fresh cut fruit, salads, baklava, and hot and cold beverages.
The history and principles of Dialogue were presented, with time for questions.
Most poignant was the depth of human experience and "story," vision for a better future, and understanding of the individual citizen's importance expressed by each participant in the evening together.
Yes, there was some healthy skepticism, but not cynicism.
Everyone spoke, and everyone was heard.
And most people signed up to begin a new Dialogue -- the 11th where we live.
Recent, revolutionary research
evening participant was Israeli researcher Gilad Hirschberger, Ph.D. (
firstname.lastname@example.org ), whose new study is measuring emotion and
empathy in American Arabs and Jews who discuss the Middle East.
He will quantify human emotion, possible advantages of "getting to know each other on a personal level" in addition to "discussing the issues," and potential advantages of putting one activity before the other for the very best outcomes.
Gilad's research seems joined at hip that of our friend Nike Carstarphen, Ph.D. ( Nikec@ConflictTransformation.org ) described in her just-completed doctoral dissertation, Shift Happens: Transfromation During Small Group Interventions in Protracted Social Conflicts, Geroge Mason University, 2003.
At the February, 2003 Malta International Conference on Intercultural Communication & Diplomacy, Nike presented Making the "Other" Human: The Role of Personal Stories to Bridge Deep Differences, based on her thesis.
To explore intergroup relationship building and its role in conflict resolution, Nike interviewed diplomats, academics and practitioners of different conflict resolution efforts around the globe.
She also interviewed participants of dialogue groups in the United States, including: Jewish-Palestinian dialogues, race/ethnic dialogues, and pro-life/pro-choice dialogues around the abortion issue.
The results suggest the first step in relationship building -- in advance of conflict explanation, analysis, and resolution -- is to "make the 'other' human" and that sharing personal stories -- in the spirit of genuine dialogue -- is one of the most successful starting points in this process.
Stories help adversaries break through their stereotypes, fears and animosities toward the other by helping them begin to understand and recognize the other's needs, values and core concerns.
Stories help create bridges across deep differences and lay the foundation for conflict resolution.
Nike Carstarphen's revolutionary 29-page paper, Making the "Other" Human: The Role of Personal Stories to Bridge Deep Differences, can be requested as a Word document from Nike ( NikeC@ConflictTransformation.org ) in Spain office of her Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT), on the Web at http://conflicttransformation.org , or from us, Libby and Len Traubman ( LTraubman.igc.org ).