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Links of Interest for Interfaith Dialogue, Middle East Peace and in General

The Raoul Wallenberg Institute is involved in Interfaith work in a big way.

The Salaam Shalom Educational Foundation has been consistently supported by The Wallenberg and for good reason. The work of the SSEF in Israel involving Jewish/Muslim coeducation is a positive and exciting development.  We are so glad to have SSEF President Shepha Vainstein on the Wallenberg board.

The extraordinary results of the spring 2005 online group dialogue Finding Our Common Humanity are now available here.  The Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Ethics in Malibu, and the Islamic Center of Southern California co-sponsored the dialogue.

The Finding Our Common Humanity dialogue had its roots in a 2002 Arab / Jewish dialogue with a similar design.  There is a considerable amount of material on the 2002 dialogue at http://www.nonviolenceworks.com/middleeast/.

Mehnaz Afridi is on the Wallenberg Board.  Her article, Religious Diversity, Walking and the City in Ruins, is worth a read.  What we can take from this article is a sense of adventure that can be applied to interfaith dialogue.  We are the dialogue!

Rebecca Tobias, current Wallenberg Director, is connected with the Elijah School for the Study of Wisdom in World Relgions -- their impressive website is well worth a visit.  Pages not to be missed include the work of their Interfaith Academy and theURI in North America Logo list of Board Members.

The Wallenberg has been accepted as a Cooperation Circle of the United Religions Initiative.  The URI is a dynamic glob al Interfaith movement that clearly has a big role to play in the 21st Century.

The Initiative for a UN Decade of Interreligious Cooperation for Peace has a very impressive list of supporting organizations, including URI.  Needless to say, we are hoping this Decade will take off in a big way.


Actor Michael Landon was one of the original founders of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Ethics along with Rabbi Dr. Benjamin Herson of the Malibu Jewish Center.  See the Michael Landon Remembrance Project website.

Encounter Point Links

The Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Ethics has adopted the award winning documentary Encounter Point as the keystone of its 2008 Middle East peace education project. Encounter Point is produced by Just Vision.

Speaking of Faith radio interview with Robi Damelin and Ali Abu Awwad.  Robi lost a son and Abu a brother to the conflict between Israel and Palestine, but far from hating each other these two have teamed up to work for a nonviolent resolution to that conflict as documented in the Encounter Point video.

Ralph Nader mentions Encounter Point in his hard hitting Counter Punch article: The Silent Violence of Gaza's Suffering That Candidates and Congress Ignore.

The Wallenberg Encounter Point initiative has been endorsed by Neighbors for Peace and Justice San Fernando Valley (after their regular Peace Vigil on March 19, 2008.  Also by Muslims for Progressive Values.

Photos from the Encounter Point showing at the Unity-and-Diversity General Assembly downtown LA, March 15, 2008.  The audience was small but highly appreciative.

Ethics Links

The Golden Rule Across the World's Religions is both an interfaith and an ethics web page of great  interest.  Linked pages include the text of the Golden Rule as found in thirteen religions.

Members of the URI Golden Rule CC have recently (Jan 2010) brought a youtube Golden Rule video to our attention with relevant quotes from many religions displayed against a background of harmonious pictures and music.

Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN): An Ethical Framework Institute Of Ismaili Studies

Magna Sententia - Responsibility, Respect, Realistic Expectations

Fundamental Documents for Humanity and the Earth

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a must read.  The UDHR, adopted and proclaimed in 1948 by the U.N. General Assembly, is the founding document of a united world community.  Eleanor Roosevelt was the driving force behind the UDHR.

The Earth Charter is the founding document of the global environmental community, which means all of us!

The UN Millenium Development Goals are the no-brainer of the century.   Underpinned by an ancient and shared ethical view, global social justice is now a necessity as well -- we need every human being in top form if we are to manage the impact of humanity's numbers and technology on the planet.

Los Angeles Interfaith Links

Unity and Diversity World Council is one of the many Los Angeles Interfaith groups and the primary sponsor of the Global Assembly Dialog, which the Wallenberg is proud to co-sponsor.

The USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture is proud to announce the beginning of The Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement (CMJE) made possible by the generosity of the Righteous Persons Foundation and the collaboration of the Omar Ibn Al Khattab Foundation, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and USC's Center for Religion and Civic Culture at the College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences. The Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement is a community resource for training in inter-religious outreach, an online resource center for materials on Jewish-Muslim relations, and an academic think-tank. The Center seeks to address all three of these areas in an organized and comprehensive manner through training, outreach and resource development.

The New Ground initiative is an exciting new (as of January 2008) Los Angeles Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change, a joint project of the Jewish Progressive Alliance and the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

Locally, here in Los Angeles, the progressive Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (ICUJP) has been meeting for years now.  They have a great calendar (that our conference needs to be listed on).

The Soka Gakkai International (SGI-USA) Culture of Peace Resource Centers have launched the Culture of Peace Distinguished Speaker Series to engage young people and older citizens alike in a dialogue on the values, attitudes and behaviors that reject violence and inspire creative energy towards the peaceful resolution of conflicts. Lecturers in this series focus on one or more of the eight action areas defined by the 1999 United Nations Declaration and Program of Action on a Culture of Peace: (1) Fostering a culture of peace through education; (2) Promoting sustainable economic and social development; (3) Promoting respect for all human rights; (4) Ensuring equality between women and men; (5) Fostering democratic participation; (6) Advancing understanding, tolerance and solidarity; (7) Supporting participatory communication and the free flow of information and knowledge; and (8) Promoting international peace and security.

Middle East Related Sites

Coming out of the Middle East is a Conflict Resolution program under the name Putting Peaces Together.  Facilitators Barbara and Richard Dash lived in Arab villages in the West Bank as well as living in Israel for over eighteen years. They specialize in translating quality systems of communication into extremely tangible and practical tools that can be accepted and used by diverse organizations and individual participants.  The Dashes will be holding a seminar in Los Angeles January 16-18, 2008.

Don't miss the Encounter Point links above.

The Middle East Peace social site mepeace.org has lively conversations and good people.  It is billed as "Interaction, Information and Inspiration for Middle East Peace".

In an important development, The World Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace declares "2008 to be the year of Peace Initiatives for Reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians".  From September 2007 to December 2008, The World Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace undertakes and supports Peace Initiatives for Reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. Citizens from all over the world who desire and want peace are invited to join this action.

We are in close contact with Hommes de Parole, sponsor of the Imams and Rabbis for Peace, Hommes de Parole is a foundation whose aims are:

To renew dialogue between Men.

To act on the causes of conflicts and on the principal problems of our times, relative to our concerns for the future of the planet and peace in the world..

The Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information or IPCRI, founded in Jerusalem in 1988, is the only joint Israeli-Palestinian public policy think tank, and is not affiliated to any political party. It is devoted to developing practical solutions for the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Their articles, reports and studies, in Hebrew, Arabic, and English, are widely considered serious and significant resources.

The Churches for Middle East Peace has a well thought out toolkit.

The mission of Brit Tzedek v�Shalom, the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace is to educate and mobilize American Jews in support of a negotiated two-state resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Americans for Peace Now [APN] was founded in 1981 to support the activities of Shalom Achshav (Peace Now in Israel). APN is the leading United States advocate for peace in the Middle East. APN's mission is to help Israel and the Shalom Achshav movement to achieve a comprehensive political settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict consistent with Israel's long-term security needs and its Jewish and democratic values.

Middle East Dialogue Resources page from MidEastWeb is a must see for anyone interested in dialogue on Middle East issues.

The Interfaith Encounter Association is "dedicated to promoting peace in the Middle East through interfaith dialogue and cross-cultural study ... religion can and should be a source of the solution for conflicts that exist in the region and beyond."  Don't miss the impressive list of projects being carried out by the IEA.

Friends of Arava -- The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies is the premier environmental teaching and research program in the Middle East, preparing future Arab and Jewish leaders to cooperatively solve the region's environmental challenges.  Its unique undergraduate educational experience brings together students from across the region and around the world.  Its goal is to create an active, skilled workforce that meets the urgent environmental needs of the Mideast through peaceful cooperation.

Walk the Road to Peace is a U.S. organization working for peace through interfaith efforts in the Middle East.  Our dialogue might consider affiliating and joining or building a "Local Interreligious Leadership Team".

Hello Peace is an innovative way to get Israelis and Palestinians talking one-to-one -- on the phone - over 230,000 calls so far.  If you're in Israel, the West Bank or Gaza, you can pick up the phone and talk to someone on the other side about reconciliation, tolerance, and peace.  A project of the Parent's Circle - Families Forum.

Another Road Home - an affecting Israeli movie opening in Los Angeles on May 6.  The deeply moving story of Israeli filmmaker, Danae Elon's quest to find Musa Obeidallah, the Palestinian man who helped raise her from the time she was a baby until she joined the Israeli army.  Danae's emotional and physical journey takes her from her current home in New York to an Arab-American neighborhood in New Jersey, and finally to the West Bank and Jerusalem.  This evocative documentary reaches out with deep affection to all who believe in the power of family, trust and friendship.

PeaceXPeace, a global network connecting women's circles, has devoted their current newsletter edition to the Middle East.  Lots of good stuff here.

Bitterlemons.org presents Israeli and Palestinian viewpoints on prominent issues, focusing on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and peace process. It is produced, edited and partially written by Ghassan Khatib, a Palestinian, and Yossi Alpher, an Israeli. Its goal is to contribute to mutual understanding through the open exchange of ideas.  See also BitterLemons International.

Neve Shalom ~ Wahat al-Salam - (ne-'vé  shal-'om / 'wah-at  i-sal-'am: Hebrew and Arabic for Oasis of Peace [Isaiah 32:18]):  A village in Israel established jointly by Jews and Palestinian Arabs of Israeli citizenship and engaged in educational work for peace, equality and understanding between the two peoples.  The Wallenberg Institute of Ethics supports the Oasis of Peace Village.

The Palestine Center for National Strategic Studies (PCNSS) is a new, non-profit, non-violent, non-factional, non-governmental organizational think tank based out of the Dheisheh Refugee Camp that facilitates student-based research guided by PhD mentors, so as to force Palestinian college students to be more critical of national political and socio-economic policies. Thus, we are primarily fueled by youth, specifically students. We also host and accommodate foreign researchers in conducting their studies in Palestine, and conduct social experiments of our own in the form of projects.  One project of interest "Birthright Palestine" brings Palestinians from the Palestinian Diaspora to Palestine for visits of two or three months to learn about conditions there.

Here is a whole list of best Peace groups/sites for 2008 from Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace - see 8 lights of courage.

  • Avner Haramati led a yearlong project with Israeli leaders from across the political and religious spectrum to imagine a variety of scenarios for an Israeli future that is environmentally sustainable, and sees an active engagement between Israel's Jewish and its Arab citizens, the country's Palestinian neighbors, and the wider Arab community.
  • Hagit Ofran from Jerusalem-based Shalom Achshav (Peace Now) documents and publicizes the extent of settlement activity across the West Bank as part of Shalom Achshav's "Settlement Watch" project. In her words: "Love for the land of Israel ought not blind one to the best interests of the state of Israel and to the moral values on which it stands."
  • Eyal Raviv is a 20-something Israeli who has created a social networking site with over 1000 members, predominantly young people who share an interest in working for peace across borders.
  • Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bukhari, head of the Naqshab and Sufi order in Jerusalem, and Israeli-American Eliayahu McLean work together at Jerusalem Peacemakers, a network of religious leaders and grassroots peace builders in the Holy Land. Aziz, a leading Muslim voice for peace and reconciliation in Jerusalem, believes that Judaism, Christianity and Islam all have significance in God's message, and "no basis of religion asks people to kill each other." McLean travels internationally to promote co-existence between Arabs and Jews.
  • Ibtisam Mahameed and Elana Rozeman are religious women involved in various interfaith dialogue and peace initiatives.  Ibtisam, a devout Muslim from the village of Faradis near Haifa believes that "if I consider myself a peace activist, then all my words and actions must be devoted to peace. For me this is Jihad, and if I die doing this I will be considered a martyr."  Elana, a Jew, became involved in interfaith peace work in order to help bring an end to regional violence, following the recovery of her son from a Palestinian suicide bombing in Jerusalem, in 1997.
  • Ihab Balha and Gabriel Meyer work together at the Sulha Project, which fosters healing and reconciliation among the "Children of Abraham". "Sulha" is an indigenous Middle-Eastern ritual used to heal the past and end conflict. The organization hosts an annual multicultural gathering, "On the Way to Sulha" that incorporates listening circles, multicultural workshops, sacred interfaith rituals, and celebration through music and dance.
  • The Israeli and Palestinian singers and musicians who perform the Hebrew-Arabic song "Hevenu Shalom Aleinu" (We Brought Peace Upon Us) - "Ma Ana Ajmal Min Salam" (There is Nothing More Beautiful Than Peace). Sung in both Hebrew and Arabic (English subtitles provided), this song inspires us to overcome stereotypes and see the common humanity of Israelis and Palestinians.
  • The Arab and Muslim communities in metropolitan Detroit, home of the largest Arab community outside of the Middle East, have long partnered with the Jewish community in building bridges of understanding through dialogue and other programs.  Activist Brenda Naomi Rosenberg writes, "May my Arab friends and I serve as an example and inspire other individuals and communities to work together and replace ignorance, fear and hate with understanding and hope."
  • Organizations devoted to preparing the next generation of leaders to live together in peace: Seeds of Peace, Givat Haviva, Neve Shalom/Wahat Salam and the Ketura Institute in Eilat.
  • Campaign for the Right of Entry/Re-Entry to the Occupied Palestinian Territory (RTE) is a grassroots campaign for the protection of foreign passport holders residing in and/or visiting occupied Palestinian territory. Israel increasingly denies entry and/or re-entry to many foreign nationals who want to visit, live, or work in the occupied Palestinian territory, especially those of Palestinian descent. RTE provides counsel to visitors and family unification applicants, documents cases, and advocates for policy change.
  • Combatants for Peace are former Israeli and Palestinian combatants who are now committed to a peaceful two-state solution. This past year, they built "Abir's Garden," a playground dedicated to the memory of Abir Aramin (daughter of co-founder Bassam Aramin), killed in 2007 by Israeli soldiers as she walked home from school. "The opening of the playground symbolizes our joint opposition and resistance to the present reality in the occupied territories."
  • Gisha is an Israeli organization that seeks to protect the freedom of movement of Palestinian residents of Gaza, as guaranteed by international and Israeli law, through legal assistance and public advocacy. Because freedom of movement is a precondition for exercising other basic rights, their work has a multiplier effect in helping Gazans access education, jobs, family members and medical care.
  • The women of Machsom Watch volunteer at military checkpoints throughout the West Bank, monitoring the behavior of Israeli soldiers and border guards. They have been spat on, mistreated, and verbally abused, but their presence has changed the atmosphere at the checkpoints, as well as the behavior of those guarding them.
  • Makom BaGalil Circus brings together Israeli Arab and Jewish youth in a circus-skills training workshop, giving them the opportunity to learn to take risks, overcome fears, and share responsibility as equals.
  • Peace X Peace is an international organization which connects women directly to one another across cultures to create a more balanced, peaceful world. In the safe environment of its online Global Network, Israeli and Palestinian women (as well as women from other backgrounds) form supportive friendships, educate and mentor each other, share expertise, design projects and initiatives, and deepen their commitments to peaceful conflict resolution.
  • PRIME (Peace Research Institute of the Middle East) is a project which organizes Israeli Jewish and Palestinian high school teachers to write parallel narrative histories of the important dates in their conflict. The resulting document is used by each side to teach both narratives to students on either side of the divide.
  • Shiministim is a loosely orgainized group of Israeli-Jewish conscientious objectors who refuse to serve in the Israeli military in order to not support the ongoing occupation. Many have served, or are serving, jail time for their act of civil disobedience.
  • Ultimate Peace organize Israeli athletes who organize Israeli and Palestinian youth in Ultimate Frisbee teams in order to allow lifelong enemies to learn how to play together, forge new connections, and develop a deeper understanding of one another, bonding through shared athletic experience

General Interfaith Links

There is good advice for interfaith dialoguers at "Dialogue in Our Time", an article published New Year's Day 2005.

For a truly astonishing compendium of links about dialogue see Selected Websites on Dialogue.  This page has a good section on interfaith dialogue.

Peace Academy Links

The Raoul Wallenberg Institute has a (not so very) long range goal of creating a Peace Academy.  These links relate to that goal.

The Teach Peace site has useful tips and resources..

Interfaith and the Environment

Faiths United for Sustainable Energy (FUSE) out of Miami Beach is looking at the big picture and beginning to make things happen: "Our vision is for faith and spiritual leaders to be catalysts in the movement towards clean and sustainable energy."

Jewish Sites of Interest

Tikkun, coming from the Jewish tradition, is a spirited international community of people from many faiths and traditions calling for global democratization, economic justice, and individual freedom.

Muslim Sites of Interest

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has an excellent website that keeps up with human rights issues in America, particularly as they relate to the American Islamic community.  Don't miss CAIR's  "Not in the name of Islam" petition, which begins, "We, the undersigned Muslims, wish to state clearly that those who commit acts of terror, murder and cruelty in the name of Islam are not only destroying innocent lives, but are also betraying the values of the faith they claim to represent."  Also worth a look is their MUSLIM CONDEMNATIONS OF THE SEPTEMBER 11 ATTACKS page.

Ismaili Mail is worth a look.  Here is an Ismaili Mail link to an online conversation with participation by Wallenberg Program Director Rebecca Tobias.

Prof. Shah-ul-Hameed has words of wisdom concerning the role of the internet in the Islamic world, and yes, interfaith dialogue is one mentioned usage, though "a step towards the unity of the Ummah" is perhaps the central point.  He quotes Samer Hathout, cofounder of the Muslim Women's League in Los Angeles, saying "I think for the first time for a lot of Muslim women they can be equal partners in a discussion on anything..."  It is worth a look at Welcome to "Cyberia" - I and Welcome to "Cyberia - II".

Please send suggestions for additional links, including your brief annotation, to rogerweaton@gmail.com.

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