Presenting a laptop for telemedicine at Allia Government Hospital Hebron, Robin Marsh, Dr Omar Al-Alool and David Sasson.The Holy Land Medical Project is a partnership of Saving Lives, a Rotarian Medical Aid Agency, and the Universal Peace Federation’s Middle East Peace Initiative. It is following a successful model of collaborative health care in parts of India that assisted reconciliation between two communities in conflict.

Journalists at a media symposium being held in Jerusalem by the ‘Middle East Peace Initiative’ discussed whether the media should be actively involved in influencing events in the Middle East by seeking to calm attitudes among conflicting parties. Whilst there was criticism of certain media companies for pandering to partisan and commercial gains while regional troubles continued to flare, there was disagreement as to what journalists should actually do.
The Vice-President of United Press International in the United States, Larry Moffitt claimed impartial journalism to be one of the great hoaxes of our time and called for the media to shift the paradigm of what is news. Chief Editor of Kol Israel radio station, Yoni Ben Menachem, Producer for Israel's Channel One News, Rafiq Halabi and Romanian journalist, Rasvau Roceanu were among the speakers.

Twenty three people gathered on the evening of January 24, 2007 at Livingstone House in Chislehurst to enjoy a UPF Interreligious Peace Meeting, this time under the title “UPF UK MEPI update” featuring Mr. Robin Marsh as the main speaker.

The audience was greeted by the UPF coordinator for Bromley, Mr. Edward Hartley, who gave a short overview of the work being done and principles behind the UPF, particularly for the three guests joining MEPI (Middle East Peace Initiative) for the first time. Other members of the audience included 15 FFWPU (Family Federation for World Peace and Unification) members and 5  Ambassadors for Peace.

10 April 2007

The dates on either side of Easter and Passover are notorious for encountering fully-booked hotels throughout Israel and a general clogging up of Tel Aviv Airport as thousands of people make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Such a situation meant that the logistics of arranging a five-day event for some hundred and sixty religious, social and political leaders from Europe and the United States was no mean feat. Nevertheless, they managed to arrive in the country pretty much on schedule and all were suitably accommodated.

Daniel Seidemann is a Jewish lawyer and respected authority on the city of Jerusalem who works mainly in the Palestinian area of East Jerusalem. He has been invited to the British Foreign Office and the House of Commons on a number of occasions to brief those concerned with issues about Jerusalem. During the course of the current Middle East Peace Initiative event being held in Jerusalem, he took time out to speak to its European participants.

He set the scene by explaining that within a small triangle of about 100 metres around his home, office and his children?s school, there had been ten suicide bombings within the last five years. However, whilst supporting the need for protection he pointed out that on the other hand Jerusalem is being walled in for the first time since 1535 and he believed that the presence of The Wall would not work.

A group of 34 religious leaders, professors, parliamentarians, NGO leaders, human rights activists and journalists visited Israel-Palestine for February’s Middle East Peace Initiative (MEPI). Representing 12 nations in Europe, the group started the tour, aimed at fostering a better understanding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with a series of meetings, briefings and some sightseeing in Bethlehem. Leila Sansour, chief executive of Open Bethlehem, explained some of the difficulties the people of Bethlehem faced because of the confiscation of land, pass roads and Israel’s Security Wall.

During the course of a Middle East Peace Initiative fact-finding tour, a commentator for Israeli Television, Ehud Yaari, said how opposed he was to a number of statements that had been made on the previous day's visit to Bethlehem and a Belgian Member of Parliament commented that views from both sides were so wide apart that it was difficult to understand how the two communities were even talking about the same conflict.

Those taking part in a later panel discussion on contemporary issues included Director of Israeli Radio, Yoni Ben Menachem, former Chief Economist of the Ministry of Trade, Michael Barnea, the Deputy Mayor of Bustan Hagalk, Asher Naim, 'All for Peace' radio presenter, Moshe Raz, and former US State Senator of the Utah, Howard Nielsen.

A member of the Israeli Parliament Nadia Hillou MK spoke of tensions in the Labour party in response to the possible inclusion of Avignor Lieberman's right wing Yisrael Beitaneau party in the governing coalition. She also commented that the Labour party was slow in developing a policy to improve the situation of the Palestinian people.

Dr. Terry Newman's explained a proposal for a three way land exchange that was very sophisticated and well researched. It has been received well by leading politicians in the United States, Israel and Egypt and he felt it to be gaining momentum. However Dr. Muli Peleg, the Chairman of One Voice - Israel, spoke of the great difficulties to agree on the way to make peace even among progressive liberals.

A contribution by retired General Charles Zegev focused more upon the centrality of the conflict of Iran and Saudi Arabia. It helped to better inform Europeans of the issues and the complexity of the Middle East and to explain something of the background to European's perceptions of Israelis and Palestinians. Although what he said was not always comfortable all discussions were respectful and aimed at furthering understanding. (October 2006)


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