Bar-Ilan News

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  • Bar-Ilan University Launches Religion and Conflict Resolution Track

    Date: 2015-01-15 Hour: 14:56

    Religion is often considered as a barrier to conflict resolution, particularly following terrorist attacks such as those that recently took place in Paris.  But a new study track in Religion and Conflict Resolution, launched this week at Bar-Ilan University, postulates just the opposite – that religion can be the basis for deep conflict resolution. 

    The new track is the first of its kind to be established in Israel.  Housed within the University's Interdisciplinary Studies Program on Conflict Management, Resolution and Negotiation, the track will seek to bridge the theory, practice and texts of religion and conflict resolution. 

    "If someone sits in his home or his academic ivory tower and just writes about peace but never actually dirties himself in practice by going out into the marketplace, he may be a lover of peace but he is not a pursuer of peace," said Dr. Daniel Roth, of the Bar-Ilan Conflict Management Program and Director of the Pardes Center for Judaism and Conflict Resolution, at the official launch. 

    "Today, more than ever, there is a need to establish an academic center of religion and conflict resolution in Israel.  And there is no better academic home in Israel than Bar-Ilan University, which in its very DNA seeks to integrate religion and all of the sciences," added Roth, who will co-chair the track with Dr. Alick Isaacs, of the Bar-Ilan Conflict Management Program and Co-Director of Siach Shalom (Talking Peace).

    The event took place in the presence of Amb. Lars Faaborg-Andersen, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the State of Israel, and Prof. Oliver Ramsbotham, of the United Kingdom, one of the founders of the field of conflict resolution. Prof. Ramsbotham delivered the keynote address on Bridging Theory and Practice: Rethinking Conflict Resolution When Negotiation and Dialogue Fail.  Respondents included Prof. Jay Rothman, of the Bar-Ilan Conflict Management Program and Walid Salem of the Center for Democracy and Community Development and al-Quds University.

    The event marked the opening of a three-day conference bringing together visitors from different religions around the world to discuss the idea of merging theory and practice in promoting constructive engagement in conflicts through panel discussions on theory and conflict resolution, combining theory and practice by engaging academics and practitioners in various panels on the diverse settings of conflict resolution, and workshops exploring innovative practices in track two diplomacy, narrative listening, collaborative divorce, restorative justice and representation in mediation.

    One of the workshops, facilitated by Dr. Roth and Dr. Isaacs, involved a closed session for some 30 organizations from around Israel engaged in integrating religion and conflict resolution, in an effort to share experiences and learn more from practitioners in the field, and coordinate field work between practitioners and research students in the Conflict Management Program. 

    "The field of religion and conflict resolution is finally coming to Israel," said Dr. Isaacs, co–chair of the study track.  "There is much practical work to be done in order to build the field so that governmental and non-governmental organizations around the world can use religion to manage conflict.  For the first time leading Jewish, Christian and Muslim practitioners of religion and conflict resolution from all over the world have come to Israel to join together in creating a joint professional identity and associating that identity with an academic home – providing the backdrop for the very essential blend of theory and practice that is a must in our field." 

    Dr. Ayse Kadayifci, of the Salam Institute for Peace and Justice and a professor at Georgetown University, stressed the importance of getting together with others in the field to discover how to join forces given the fact that all of the participants are motivated by the same goal.

    "This is what we teach our students when they study various modes of peace seeking in Judaism, Christianity and Islam this is why it is so important that our guests have come to this conference to conduct the theory-practice discussion when referring to the role of religion in promoting constructive engagement in conflicts," noted Prof. Michal Alberstein, Director of the Program on Conflict Management and Negotiation.