About "Minds of Peace"

The "Minds of Peace" project is an attempt to foster people-to-people grass roots diplomacy between Israelis and Palestinians.  The project is the brain-child of Dr. Handelman, a graduate  of Tel Aviv University with advanced degrees in economics and philosophy. He has spent the past three years as a post-doctoral fellow and associate at Harvard University and as the Lentz fellow in Peace and Conflict Resolution Research at the University of Missouri-St. Louis Center for International Studies. 

“Mind of Peace” dialogues have now been held in several locations, including at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Wayne State University Detroit, University of California at Irvine, and in Beit Jala/Beit Lehem in Israel/Palestine on August 29, 2009. The concept of citizen-based diplomacy is meant to supplement and extend efforts at the leadership level so that the public comes to identify with and gain trust in peacemaking efforts.

In the Mind of Peace dialogues, teams of 5-6 local Israelis and Palestinians from all walks of life come together over 3 days for constructive future-oriented negotiation of agreements to end violence and solve underlying conflict issues.  The talks proceed with an open community audience, which can also enter the conversation during the last portion of each session. In the sessions at Beit Jala the Israeli panel included a father whose daughter was killed in the conflict and a former director of a jail for political prisoners.  The Palestinian delegation included an ex-prisoner from that jail and a gun shot victim. 

Among the points in their agreement were mutual recognition of each other’s rights to a national state, a gradual removal of checkpoints between Palestinian villages, joint Palestinian-Israeli manning of border control points, the discouragement of incitement and a mutual condemnation of violence on both sides.  The agreement also set specifics on borders between Israel and Palestine, including plans for separate districts in Jerusalem and policies on refugees. 

The long term goal and vision is to elect delegates to a common citizen assembly for ongoing negotiations on the implementation of improved living conditions in the region. The Lentz Peace Research Association of St. Louis sponsors Dr. Handelman’s stay in Detroit, and he is available for speaking engagements and public service with community groups.

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