Holy War, Holy Peace
How Religion Can Bring Peace to the Middle East
OXFORD UNIV PR
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War has been made holy by the families of Abraham, and the monotheistic religions of those families, for many centuries. But, argues Marc Gopin, peacemaking was made holy too, through a variety of cultural and religious practices that have been virtually overlooked by scholars and activists alike. In fact, the tragic use of religion in perpetuating and inflaming the Palestinian/Israeli conflict represents only one understanding of the great Abrahamic traditions. New readings, with equally ancient roots, are now emerging, and their authors are gathering more courage to bring them before their respective communities. Marc Gopin here presents and examines these exciting new readings, and argues passionately for a far greater integration of Middle East peace processes with the religious communities of the region. The religious peoples, Jewish, Christian and Muslim, must become a part of new paradigms for coexistence between Israelies and Palestinians. And these new paradigms must include the unique ways in which monotheistic peoples develop social relations, heal old wounds, and transform enemies into allies. Drawing on his own personal experience with religious-based peace initiatives in Israel and Palestine, Gopin writes movingly of the individuals and groups that are already attempting such reconciliations. It is imperative, he says, that an alliance be forged between secular and religious methods of peacemaking. The combination of these methods, Gopin believes, will yield a rich and creative model for the reconciliation of ancient enmities among Jews, Christians and Muslims.
The Intifada of 2000-2001 has demonstrated the end of an era of diplomacy in the Arab-Israeli conflict. The style of peacemaking of the Olso Accords has been called into question by the facts on the ground. Elite forms of peacemaking that do not embrace the basic needs of average people on all sides are bound to fail. The complete neglect of deeper cultural and religious systems in the peace process is now apparent, as is the role that this neglect has played in the failure of the process. Building on his earlier book, Between Eden and Armageddon, Gopin provides a detailed blueprint of how the religious traditions in question can become a principal asset in the search for peace and justice. He demonstrates how religious people can be the critical missing link in peacemaking, and how the incorporation of their values and symbols can unleash a new dynamic that directly addresses basic issues of ethics, justice, and peace. Gopin's analysis of the theoretical, theological, and political planes shows us what has been achieved thus far, as well as what must be done next in order to ensure effective final settlement negotiations and secure, sovereign, democratic countries for both peoples.
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