August 2012

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Professor Roger Fisher, the most pre-eminent pioneer of mediation and negotiation, died this week at the age of 90, and here is a good obituary.

I especially like these excerpts:

Over his career, Professor Fisher eagerly brought his optimistic can-do brand of problem solving to a broad array of conflicts across the globe, from the hostage crisis in Iran to the civil war in El Salvador. His emphasis was always on addressing the mutual interests of the disputing parties instead of what separated them. As he would tell his students, “Peace is not a piece of paper, but a way of dealing with conflict when it arises.” It did not matter to Professor Fisher whether the warring parties reached out to him or not; he would assume they needed his help. “Most of the time he was not invited. He would invite himself,” Elliott Fisher said. “Our sense growing

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There is a pervasive fear that is being spread by American, Israeli and Sunni Gulf leaders that the most dangerous development in modern history will be the capacity of Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. The fear of nuclear weapons is a natural one, and it is well deserved, because a nuclear weapon is far and away the worst technological innovation of murder ever developed in human history, probably the worst that ever will be developed.

It is especially understandable that Israel, composed mostly of Jews many of whom are from Holocaust families, would be especially vulnerable to the fear of sudden and mass extermination by inveterate enemies. Israel has almost 400 advanced nuclear weapons and delivery systems, and yet there seems to be no limits to the fears that leaders can generate at even the possibility that Iran could acquire nuclear weapons.

Nuclear terror almost brought the world to

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A candle light vigil is held Tuesday night, Aug. 7, in Oak Creek, Wis., for the victims three days after a mass shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin. The vigil was held during the national night out event at the Oak Creek Civic Center. Tom Lynn/AP

What happened Sunday will coax both groups to mix more tightly, says Marc Gopin, director of the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy, and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University inArlington, Va.

“One finds in such tragedies an amazing blend of shared rituals and expressions of care that cut across communal lines,” Mr. Gopin says. “Such gestures at the right time can say and do far more in terms of human relations than any words could ever accomplish. At the end of the day, grieving is about tears, sorrow, solidarity, comfort of survivors, and this is the universal language that cuts across all …

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Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney places a prayer note as he visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Sunday, July 29, 2012. (Charles Dharapak - AP)

Read the full article by Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and former president of the Chicago Theological Seminary, on the Washington Post Blogs.

“Religious difference can be part of the path to peace, however, and the holiness of Jerusalem to Judaism, Christianity and Islam can be a way to achieve a spiritual as well as a political accommodation on Jerusalem in a genuine peace process. Marc Gopin presents this idea so effectively in his classic work, Holy War, Holy Peace: How Religion Can Bring Peace to the Middle East.

Gopin points out that what actually works in regard to resolving conflict is working through significant difference: ‘It is a fundamental belief, call it …

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