Thread Rating:
  • 1 Vote(s) - 5 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

ALGIERS, March 22, 2005 ( & News Agencies) - Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on Tuesday, March 22, urged Arab leaders to back his initiative to create an “alliance of civilizations” to crush terrorism and bridge the gap with the West.

“We are in favor of a constructive dialogue between civilizations, peoples and religion,” Zapatero said as he addressed the opening session of an Arab League summit in the Algerian capital, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Everything must be done to “dominate misunderstandings between the Western world and Islam,” he said.

The goal of setting up an “alliance of civilizations” is aimed at forging ahead “toward consolidating a more just international order,” Zapatero said.

Zapatero unveiled the idea last September at the United Nations.

Islam Not Terror

Zapatero also condemned terrorism and said any attempt to link it to Islam “is a very serious error that only serves to multiply misunderstandings ... (and) to erect a wall more mighty than the Berlin Wall.”

He also called for international support for the Palestinian leadership “to ensure a just peace with Israel.”

His project is set to breathe new life into trans-Mediterranean dialogue and Barcelona is scheduled to stage a November summit to mark the 10th anniversary of the launching of the so-called Barcelona Process designed to that end.

The process foresees the creation of a zone of political stability and economic prosperity, greater cooperation on social, cultural affairs and education, promotion of human rights and a joint fight against terrorism.

A further aim is the creation of a trans-Mediterranean free trade zone by 2010.


The alliance is the brainchild of Zapatero.

CAIRO, September 3, 2005 ( – United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has formed a group of world luminaries to bridge gaps between the West and the Muslim world and clear misconceptions and misperceptions.

The 18-member "Alliance of Civilizations" includes international dignitaries from Iran’s former president Mohammad Khatami to South African and Noble laureate archbishop Desmond Tutu, the UN press office reported Friday, September 2, on its Web site.

It also includes former UNESCO chief Federico Mayor Zaragoza, outing chairman of the Inter-American Development Bank Enrique Iglesias, former French foreign minister Hubert Vedrine, director of Bibliotheca Alexandria Ismali Serageldin and Karen Armstrong, British expert on the history of religions.

The star-studded alliance is chaired by Zaragoza and co-chaired by Turkey’s Minister of Religious Affairs Mehmet Aydin.

The UN said the group members were chosen after extensive consultations with experts on dialogue between civilizations and culture.

The alliance initiative was first unveiled by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero at the UN General Assembly in New York last September.

The initiative was later co-sponsored by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a March summit between both leaders.

Erdogan appointed his chief foreign policy adviser Rafet Akgunay as Turkey's representative in the project.

Spain in return has appointed retired ambassador Maximo Cajal to the initiative.

Bridge Divides

The UN said the group was intended to "respond to the need for a committed effort by the international community – both at the institutional and civil society levels – to bridge divides and overcome prejudice, misconceptions, misperceptions and polarization, which potentially threaten world peace."

The alliance will aim to address emerging threats emanating from hostile perceptions that foment violence, and to bring about cooperation among various efforts to heal such divisions, according to a UN statement.

"Events of recent years have heightened the sense of a widening gap and lack of mutual understanding between Islamic and Western societies – an environment that has been exploited and exacerbated by extremists in all societies."

The group will hold four meetings, beginning in Spain’s Balearic Islands in November and ending in Turkey.

The two meetings in between are expected to be held in a European and an Islamic country.

A report will be prepared including gap-bridging proposals and issued in late 2006.


“If there is terrorism today, then it has nothing to do with any divine religion,” said Erdogan.

By Sa’ad Abdul Majid, IOL Correspondent

ISTANBUL, September 26, 2005 ( – Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has opened an inter-civilization conference in Istanbul amid charges of conspiracy and anti-Islam from some Islamists.

Addressing the plenary session of the three-day “Meeting of Civilizations” conference, Erdogan hit out Sunday, September 25, at equating Islam with terrorism.

“If there is terrorism today, then it has nothing to do with any divine religion,” he said strongly. “Any talk about ‘Islamic terrorism’ or ‘Muslim terrorists’ is indeed some sort of ignorance and is unacceptable.”

The leader of the ruling Justice and Development party further called anew for criminalizing Islamophobia on a par with anti-Semitism, and for reconciliation between Muslims and Jews by letting bygones be bygones.

Erdogan said the conference, which brought together delegations from up to 30 European and Mideast countries including Israel, is the result of cooperation with his Spanish counterpart Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

The alliance initiative was first unveiled by the Spanish premier at the UN General Assembly in New York in September of last year.

The initiative was later co-sponsored by Erdogan in a March summit between both leaders.

Erdogan appointed his chief foreign policy adviser Rafet Akgunay as Turkey's representative in the project.

Spain in return has appointed retired ambassador Maximo Cajal to the initiative.


Critics say Turkey is courting the West to join the euro bloc. (Reuters)

Some Islamists, however, faulted Erdogan for hosting the conference which they called a “conspiracy against Islam.”

Erdogan’s speech was heckled by some of the audience, who shouted anti-US slogans and accused Erdogan’s party of being “an agent".

The deputy head of the opposition Saadet party, Tamel Oglo, has charged that the conference was a “Western ploy dictated on the Justice and Development party.”

He further said the conference is part of what he called an “organized campaign against Islam led by the United States under the guise of inter-faith dialogue and religious tolerance.”

Mohamet Silay, a former MP for the outlawed Virtue party, told Turkish newspaper Milli Gazete that the proposed “Alliance of Civilizations” was helping entrench the US Broader Middle East and North Africa initiative, which serves best the interests of Israel.

The Islamic current’s Andadulu Youths magazine further held Sunday a seminar entitled “Saladin…The Architect of Peace in the Middle East” to counter the conference.

They urged the government not to bow to Western pressure and to rather adhere to nationalist viewpoints.

Pundits say that Turkey is trying to play a key role in bridging the gap between the West and the Muslim world as part of its tireless efforts to join the enlarged European Union.

They cited a controversial conference hosted by Istanbul September 24-25 on the alleged massacre of thousands of Armenians by Turks during and after World War One.

The conference sparked mass rallies with nationalist demonstrators hurling eggs and tomatoes at participants as they arrived at Istanbul's private Bilgi University for the conference.

Reports further spoke about Turkey’s role in normalization of relations between Israel and Muslim countries, chiefly Pakistan.

Well-placed sources told Turkey’s NTV network earlier in the month that Israel was planning to open interest sections at the Turkish embassy in a number of Islamic countries.

Turkey is due to begin EU entry talks on October 3, though it is not seen joining the bloc before 2015 at the earliest.


"We want to close off the sources of extremism and win the battle of ideas and principles," Zapatero told the high-level UN group. (Reuters)

PALMA DE MAJORCA, Spain, November 28 ( & News Agencies) – A UN-sponsored meeting, currently in session in the Mediterranean resort island of Palma de Majorca, aims at defusing religious extremism and promoting a cross-cultural Alliance of Civilizations.

"We must stop up the springs of extremism, win the battle of ideas and principles, feed peace-seeking minds, strengthen the instinct of cooperation in our hearts," Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero told the opening session on Sunday, November 27, reported Reuters.

"Former rivalry" between the Christian and Turkish empires "has been transformed into a positive association," he said.

"We want to close off the sources of extremism and win the battle of ideas and principles," Zapatero told the high-level group launch meeting.

Zapatero said a UN-supported high-level group is due to report a plan by the second half of 2006.

The group also includes former Iranian president Mohammad Khatamei, South African Nobel Peace Prize-winning Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Andre Azoulay, aide to Morocco's King Mohamed VI, former French foreign minister Hubert Vedrine and outgoing Inter-American Development Bank head Enrique Iglesias.

It is co-chaired by Spanish former UNESCO director general Federico Mayor and Turkish minister of state and theology Mehmet Aydin.

The group should focus on mobilizing opinion leaders, artists, the media, sports figures, scientists and others, Zapatero stressed.

Zapatero suggested the alliance, promoted as a counterpoint to the Washington's more forthright anti-terrorist strategy, idea last year in a speech at the UN.

It has found a receptive ear in UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, as well as Turkey and 22 other countries.

Planting Seeds

Erdogan insisted extremism was not confined to any one religion and terrorists might attack any target regardless of its culture. (Reuters)

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan - co-sponsor of the three-day meeting, echoed a similar position.

"Together we are planting a seed for an Alliance of Civilizations to grow in our world, and this will help the seeds of hundreds of thousands of Alliances of Civilizations to flourish," he told a news conference.

Erdogan said extremism was not confined to any one religion and terrorists might attack any target regardless of its culture.

Istanbul hosted in September a three-day inter-civilization conference themed "Meeting of Civilizations".

Erdogan described the conference, which brought together delegations from up to 30 European and Mideast countries including Israel, as the result of cooperation with Zapatero.

In a March summit with his Spanish counterpart, Erdogan threw his weight behind Zapatero's initiative.

He then appointed his chief foreign policy adviser Rafet Akgunay as Turkey's representative in the project.


Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos called for a "strategic alliance with the Arab-Muslim states who feel as under threat as do we, if not more so, from Al-Qaeda terrorism, and who are determined to combat this menace."

He stressed that the success of security and intelligence services in arresting hundreds of terrorists "will not serve much purpose if at the same time Al-Qaeda multiplies its recruitment".

Arab League General Secretary Amr Moussa, who last year personally invited Zapatero to formally present his initiative, on Friday praised Zapatero after arriving in Barcelona.

"I fully support (the idea), I am in favor of the initiative of Mr Zapatero," he said.

"It is a very important step; it is more positive to discuss about an alliance of civilizations than to be talking of clashes of civilizations."

Andre Azoulay, counselor to Morocco's King Mohamed VI, added his praise, saying that Zapatero's alliance was juxtaposed with what he termed the "clash of civilizations" -- an allusion to the US strategy on countering terrorism.


MADRID, September 21, 2005 ( – President of the European Parliament Josep Borrell has called for giving priority to bridge the gap between the West and the Islamic world under an "alliance of civilizations," warning of denying Muslim Turkey access to the enlarging European Union (EU).

"The dialogue between civilizations is no longer a joke when relations between the West and the Muslim world are on edge," Borrell told a European economic gathering in Madrid Tuesday, September 20.

Spaniard Borrell said "political parties" are not expected to mock at the Spanish-proposed "alliance of civilizations," saying it has become inevitable.

"The alliance of civilizations has reached the point of no return," he said emphatically.

West's Preoccupation

He was responding to bids by the Spanish right-wing parties to belittle the proposed alliance, dubbing it as the "caricature alliance" and an "hoary old idea."

Borrell said relations with the Muslim world have emerged now as the West's main preoccupation.

The alliance initiative was first unveiled by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero at the UN General Assembly in New York in September of 2004.

The initiative was later co-sponsored by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a March summit between both leaders.

Borrell, the former leader of Spain 's Socialist Party, further said an ad hoc group formed by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan will convene soon in Morocco and Spain to tackle how to put the idea into effect.

The Moroccan town of Al-Sawira , south of Casablanca , is expected to play host to the meeting, learnt.

The 18-member group includes international dignitaries from Iran ’s former president Mohammad Khatami to South African and Noble laureate archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Muslim Turkey

Borrell also warned of not allowing Turkey into the euro bloc because of it is a Muslim country with up to 70 million people.

"Rejecting Ankara would inextricably strain relations between the West and the Muslim world," he said.

Borrell said Turkey's bid will put Europe's secularism to the test and show whether it is really secular or Christian, in reference to rejectionists of Turkey's efforts chiefly Pope Benedict XVI.

The new pope had said that allowing the predominantly Muslim nation into Europe ’s club would be "an enormous mistake."

Europe is a "cultural continent, not a geographic one," he said in 2004, and Turkey has "always represented another continent... in permanent contrast with Europe ."

The European Union finally agreed Wednesday, September 21, a hotly-contested declaration on Turkey , voicing confidence that it would clear the way for talks with Ankara next month despite lingering problems.

The bloc's British presidency said the only obstacle to the October 3 start of talks with Turkey is Austria , which wants the EU to offer the vast Muslim country something short of full EU membership, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).

EU leaders agreed last December on the October 3 date to start membership talks with Turkey, despite Ankara's refusal to recognize the Greek Cypriot government of Cyprus, which joined the 25-nation Union in May last year.

The EU declaration on Turkey demands that Ankara recognize the Cypriot government at some point before it actually joins the bloc, a step unlikely for at least a decade.


Solana attends Saturday a UN roundtable in Doha over the cartoons.

BRUSSELS, February 25, 2006 ( & News Agencies) - European Union governments are considering a range of measures to build stronger ties with the Muslim world following the outrage caused by the publication of Danish caricatures that lampooned Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

"The focus is on what we can do to promote inter-cultural dialogue and better understanding of each other," an EU diplomat told the German news agency dpa on Friday, February 25.

The new EU drive, expected to be unveiled by the bloc's foreign ministers on Monday, February 27, will focus on improving relations with Muslim governments but will also underline the need for better contacts between the two sides' media, youth groups and NGOs.

"We would like to close this chapter (of tension) and turn a new page in our relations with Muslim countries," said the EU diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The cartoons, one of them showing the Prophet with a bomb-shaped turban, were first published in Denmark last year, and have been reprinted by newspapers in many countries on the ground of freedom of expression.

Any image of the Prophet -- let alone biting caricatures -- is considered blasphemous under Islam.

Responsible Media

A statement to be issued by EU foreign ministers on Monday will voice "regret that these cartoons have caused offence and distress among Muslims across the world."

It will underline that "free media are indispensable to a free and open society" but that freedoms "come with responsibilities."

European Union lawmakers on Thursday, February 16, called for freedom of expression to be exercised with responsibility but rejected calls for limits on media freedom in the wake of the row over the cartoons.

Muslim countries are pressing for a ban on religious intolerance to be part of the bedrock of a planned new United Nations human rights body.

A cohort of Muslim dignitaries and organizations are calling for the enactment of an international law banning the publication of any insults to religious symbols and values.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Arab League, the Muslim world's two main political bodies, are seeking a UN resolution, backed by possible sanctions, to protect religions following the publication of provocative cartoons.

Existing Initiatives

The EU foreign ministers' statement will also underline the EU's desire to "actively promote dialogue, mutual understanding and respect" with Muslim countries.

This will be done through the existing Euro-Mediterranean dialogue which links the EU to several North African and Middle East nations and also through the network of Asia Europe Meetings (ASEM).

The EU is also throwing its weight behind a Turkish-Spanish initiative for an "Alliance of Civilizations," which is also backed by the United Nations.

The Qatari capital Doha is on Saturday, February 25, playing host to a roundtable called by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Annan will chair the session and speak of the importance of the Alliance of Civilizations and address issues raised by the cartoons and ways to combat extremism, a UN spokesman was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Chief among participants are Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa and EU Foreign Policy and Security Chief Javier Solana.

Qatar will also host Sunday, February 26, the second meeting of the Alliance of Civilizations.

The three-day event will be attended by a host of dignitaries including former Iranian president Mohamed Khatami, OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Andre Azoulay; a senior aide to Morocco's King Mohamed VI, and outgoing Inter-American Development Bank head Enrique Iglesias.

Denmark has welcomed an initiative by Muslim preacher Amr Khaled to visit the Scandinavian country with a host of Muslim youth to engage in a dialogue with Danish youths and intellectuals and is planning a series of initiatives to build bridges with the Muslim world after the row.

The publication of the anti-Prophet cartoons have prompted Muslim minorities in many Western countries to champion local campaigns to raise awareness of the merits and characteristics of the Prophet in West. decided earlier in February to launch a multi-lingual Web site to acquaint non-Muslims with the prophet.



The conference brings together dignitaries from all over the world.

By Dalia Al-Hadidi, IOL Correspondent

DOHA, February 26, 2006 ( – World dignitaries opened on Sunday, February 26, the second conference of the UN-sponsored Alliance of Civilizations in Doha, urging action not talk to bridge the yawning gap between the Muslim world and the West after the publication of Danish cartoons that lampooned Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

"Lofty ideas alone are not enough ... We need to develop sobering, but equally compelling counter-narratives of our own," UN Secretary General Kofi Annan told the delegates.

"I very much hope that you can come up with specific, concrete suggestions for ways of carrying dialogue forward so that it can really catch the popular imagination; so that we are not just a nice group of people agreeing with each other, but people with a message that can echo around the world."

The Alliance of Civilizations initiative, launched in November 2005 by Spain and Turkey , has created a "high-level group" of some 20 members including Iran 's former president Mohammed Khatami, former French foreign minister Hubert Vedrine, South Africa 's Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the wife of Qatar 's emir Sheikha Mozah.

The group, which had its first meeting in Palma de Mallorca , Spain , in November and will have two more meetings after Doha , is expected to come up with concrete steps for promoting dialogue between cultures that will be presented to the UN, other international organizations and world governments in the autumn.

The issue of West-Islam dialogue has gained more urgency in view of the controversy triggered by the publication of cartoons mocking Prophet Muhammad.

The drawings, considered blasphemous under Islam, have sparked worldwide protests, which in some cases turned violent.


"Lofty ideas alone are not enough," said Annan.

Many of the speakers underlined the need to accord special attention to the younger generation.

"It is very important to reach young people before their ideas and attitudes have fully crystallized," Annan said.

He urged world figures, especially artists, entertainers and sports champions, to join hands in promoting the ideology of tolerance and understanding between cultures among youths before they are swayed by extremists.

Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Sheikh Abdullah Bin Khalifa Al-Thani agreed.

"Youths should also play a strategic role in building bridges between civilizations," he told the participants.

Federico Mayor, the former director of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said it is high time the parties concerned took a concrete step.

He called on NGOs and governments to launch a practical program to enhance understanding between the peoples of the world.

Political Problems

Spain 's Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos proposed looking at the political problems feeding the growing rift between East and West.

"We should try to identify the main political problems that feed these growing suspicions," he said, according to a copy of his prepared remarks obtained by Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The Israeli occupation of Palestine and the US-led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan are often cited by politicians, experts and analysts as the root of the state of anger towards the West in the Muslim world.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has admitted there can be no security solution to terrorist attacks without addressing the underlying causes of terrorism.

David Clark, a former Labour government adviser, has said that the world cannot defeat terrorism until it was ready to take legitimate Arab grievances seriously.


"We may wish to think of the Arab -Israeli conflict as just one regional conflict among many. But it is not," said Annan. (Reuters)

CAIRO — The yawning divide between Islam and the West does not have its roots in religious differences but rather political conflicts, particularly the continued Israel occupation of Palestine, a galaxy of world-renowned scholars, politicians and religious leaders said in a report presented to the UN Monday, November 13.

"Neither ancient history nor religious differences are responsible for present tensions between Western and Muslim populations," concludes the High-level Group of the Alliance of Civilizations.

"The Israeli-Palestinian issue has become a key symbol of the rift between Western and Muslim societies and remains one of the gravest threats to international stability," it stressed.

UN Secretary-General who received the report at a ceremony in Istanbul on Monday.

"We may wish to think of the Arab -Israeli conflict as just one regional conflict among many. But it is not," he said.

"As long as the Palestinians live under occupation, exposed to daily frustration and humiliation, and as long as Israelis are blown up in buses and in dances halls, so long will passions everywhere be inflamed."

The Alliance of Civilizations initiative was launched in November 2005 by Spain and Turkey.

The High-level Group was appointed by Annan a year ago to explore ways of addressing the increasing polarization between Muslim and Western societies.

It comprises 20 prominent international figures from a variety of religions including Iran 's former president Mohammed Khatami, former French foreign minister Hubert Vedrine, South Africa's Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Arthur Schneier, Senior Rabbi of Park East Synagogue.

The report crowns a year-long process in which the Group had three main meetings – in Spain, Qatar and Senegal – as well as a working session in New York.

Double Standards

The report also said that double-standard policies were fueling the growing divide between Muslim and Western societies.

"Moreover, the perception of double standards in the application of international law and the protection of human rights is increasing resentment and the sense of vulnerability felt by many Muslims around the globe."

Washington drew fire from across the Muslim world Saturday, November 11, for vetoing a UN Security Council resolution that would have condemned the Israeli killing of twenty Palestinian civilians, including eight children and four women in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanun.

During an emergency meeting Sunday, November 12, infuriated Arab foreign ministers voiced their "utmost indignation" at the American veto.

As one of the council's five permanent members along with Britain, China, France and Russia, the US has veto power which it has now used 82 times, including 41 times to shield Israel from censure.

Its previous use of the veto was in July to block a draft resolution that would have condemned Israel's military onslaught in Gaza as "disproportionate force" and would have demanded a halt to Israeli operations in the impoverished territory.

Washington had also blocked international efforts to enforce an immediate ceasefire in Israel's war on Lebanon.


The world dignitaries also heaped blame on military interventions into Muslim countries.

"Western military operations in Muslim countries contribute to a growing climate of fear and animosity that is spreading around the world," they said in their report.

"The spiraling death toll in Iraq and the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan help swell the ranks of terrorist groups."

A recently comprehensive National Intelligence report, representing a consensus view of the US 16 disparate spy services, has concluded that the Iraq war played a more direct role in increasing terrorist attacks and creating a new class of "self-generating" terrorists who are united by an anti-Western agenda.

The 30-page classified report warned that rather than contributing to eventual victory in the US-led global counterterrorism effort, the situation in Iraq has worsened the US position.


The report also suggests that the repression of non-violent political opposition and the slow pace of reforms in some Muslim countries is a key factor in the rise of extremism.

It calls for ruling parties in these countries to allow the full participation of peaceful political groups, whether religious or secular in nature.

The high-level group urged foreign governments to be consistent in their support for pluralism by, for example, respecting the outcome of elections.

For the past five years, the Bush administration has been championing a "democracy" drive worldwide and a global "war on terror."

However, pundits say, the US failed to support free and democratic elections in several Muslim countries when Islamists emerged as winners.

Legislative elections have brought the Palestinian resistance group Hamas to the helm of power and saw the Muslim Brotherhood and Hizbullah make major political gains.

A December Gallup poll, conducted in 10 nations that comprise 80 percent of the world's Muslim population, found that an overwhelming majority of Muslims strongly doubted the United States was trying to establish democracy in the Middle East.

Oil, protecting Israel and dominating the region were seen as US goals, according to the survey.


The high-level group came up with concrete steps for promoting dialogue between cultures.

It proposed appointing a high-level representative to assist the UN chief in defusing to tensions at times of crisis.

The dignitaries called for analyzing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict dispassionately and objectively and establishing clearly the conditions that must be met to find a way out of this crisis.

They pressed for resuming the political process, including the convening of an international conference on the Middle East Peace Process as soon as possible.

The report also put forward a range of concrete proposals in the areas of education, media, youth and migration to build bridges and promote a culture of respect and understanding among Western and Muslim communities.

It called for the development of film and television programs co-produced across religious and cultural boundaries and showing diversity as a normal feature of society.

The group encouraged the promotion of cross-cultural and human rights education to ensure that students everywhere develop an understanding of other cultures and religions.

It also proposed creation of a Global Youth Solidarity Fund, to encourage young people to contribute to the implementation of all of the recommendations set forth in this report.


To advance the Alliance of Civilizations, the UN Secretary-General established a High-level Group of eminent personalities and tasked this Group with generating a report containing an analysis of the rise in cross-cultural polarization and extremism and a set of practical recommendations to counter this phenomenon.  The High-level Group met five times from November 2005 to November 2006, at the conclusion of which it produced a report which takes a multi-polar approach within which it prioritizes relations between Muslim and Western societies.
The report is structured in two parts: Part I presents an analysis of the global context and of the state of relations between Muslim and Western societies.  It concludes with a set of policy recommendations, indicating the High-level Group's belief that certain political steps are pre-requisites to any substantial and lasting improvement in relations between Muslim and Western societies.  Part II of the report reflects the High-level Group's view that tensions across cultures have spread beyond the political level into the hearts and minds of populations.  To counter this trend, the Group analyzes and presents recommendations in each of four thematic areas: Education, Youth, Migration, and Media.  The Report concludes with the High-level Group's suggestions for the implementation of its recommendations.
The Report of the High-level Group was presented to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and to Prime Ministers José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on 13 November 2006 at the final meeting of the High-level Group in Istanbul, Turkey.

Download the full Report


Highlights of the High-level Group Report

Click to see a short summarization of the highlights of the Report

Press Release

Click to see the Press Release

Supporting Documents for the Alliance of Civilizations Final Report to the HLG

Documents referenced in the Report of the High-level Group .

Please click here to see the Documents.


The deliberations of the High-level Group were supported by research conducted or commissioned by a UN-based Secretariat of the Alliance of Civilizations. As part of this research, the Secretriat prepared thematic papers  on the following subjects, reflecting the priorities established by the High-level Group: Education, Youth, Migration, and Media.

Click here to see the thematic papers.


Nov 24 2006, IRNA

The well-known Italian novelist and philosopher Umberto Eco has denounced the idea of clash of civilization and accused US President George W. Bush of encouraging terrorism and fundamentalism by his flawed policies in the Middle East.

"It's a lie. That is stupid and dangerous argument," Eco told a press conference in Brussels Thursday evening in reply to a question by IRNA on the idea of clash of civilisations.

"There is a clash between certain elements of a civilization with her elements of a civilizations," he said.

Speaking to IRNA later, Umberto Eco said "I don't believe in a clash of civilizations".

Asked how one could solve the current problems existing between the West and the Muslim world, he replied, "if I knew how to solve it I would be the President of the United States."
"The only thing I know is that President Bush has solved it in the wrong way. He is responsible of encouraging terrorism and
fundamentalist by doing what he did," said the Italian thinker.

He also called for greater European diplomatic activity to resolve the current standoff between Iran and the EU.

Umberto Eco is in Brussels to take part in a debate on "India and Europe: strategies for reciprocal knowledge."
The debate is a session of the International Transcultura Institute, the traveling university founded by Umberto Eco and French ethnologist Alain le Pichon in 1988 to promote exchange of ideas between European and non-European cultures.

A number of European and Indian scholars, as well as an Iranian scholar and political philosopher Ali Paya are taking part in the one day event on Friday as part of the ongoing India Festival.

The Belgian Centre of Fine Arts (BOZAR) has organised a four-month long India Festival in Brussels which began in October and will last till January with the aim to strengthen cultural relations between Europe and India.

Italian philosopher Umberto Eco condemns concept of clash of civilisations as "stupid" Brussels, Nov 24, IRNA

The well known Italian novelist and philosopher Umberto Eco has denounced the idea of clash of civilization and accused US President George W. Bush of encouraging terrorism and fundamentalism by his flawed policies in the Middle East.

"It's a lie. That is stupid and dangerous argument," Eco told a press conference in Brussels Thursday evening in reply to a question by IRNA on the idea of clash of civilisations.

"There is a clash between certain elements of a civilization with her elements of a civilizations," he said.

Speaking to IRNA later, Umberto Eco said "I don't believe in a lash of civilizations".

Asked how one could solve the current problems existing between the West and the Muslim world, he replied, "if I knew how to solve it I would be the President of the United States."
"The only thing I know is that President Bush has solved it in the wrong way. He is responsible of encouraging terrorism and
fundamentalist by doing what he did," said the Italian thinker.

He also called for greater European diplomatic activity to resolve the current standoff between Iran and the EU.

Umberto Eco is in Brussels to take part in a debate on "India and Europe: strategies for reciprocal knowledge."
The debate is a session of the International Transcultura Institute, the traveling university founded by Umberto Eco and French ethnologist Alain le Pichon in 1988 to promote exchange of ideas between European and non-European cultures.

A number of European and Indian scholars, as well as an Iranian scholar and political philosopher Ali Paya are taking part in the one day event on Friday as part of the ongoing India Festival.

The Belgian Centre of Fine Arts (BOZAR) has organised a four-month long India Festival in Brussels which began in October and will last till January with the aim to strengthen cultural relations between Europe and India.


Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr.

Sept. 17, 2006

Let the faithful of Islam hear my warning words, before it is too late for us to prevent a terrible consequence for all humanity!

The founder of Christianity, Jesus Christ, was born during the reign of the evil Roman Emperor Augustus, and was murdered, through crucifixion, by the order of the Pontius Pilate who was the personal agent of the frankly satanic Emperor Tiberius, who was resident, with his retinue of Mithra-cultists, at his headquarters at the truly capriolic Isle of Capri. The chronicle of these events was supplied by the four accounts of the Christian Apostles Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; a deeper insight into the chronicled events was supplied by the Apostle John. The deeper understanding of the Christian mission, as I share presently relevant elements of this knowledge, was supplied, to the present day, by the Testament and Letters of the Apostle John and the Letters of the Apostle Paul.

The writings of the Apostles John and Paul represent the Classical Greek science which was the highest form of scientific and related knowledge of that time, in opposition to the pro-Satanic legacy of the worship of the Olympian Zeus and other pro-reductionist excretions of that wicked Pythian cult of the Delphi Apollo from which the evil of imperial Rome had sprung in that time.

So, the Apostles Peter and Paul, among legions of other Apostles and ordinary Christians, were murdered in their martyrdom by a Roman Empire which has been intrinsically evil from the time of its conception to its present incarnation in such forms as British intelligence's agent Bernard Lewis' view of the goals of the British Empire today.

So, when Rome's prolonged policy of mass murder of Christians failed to destroy Christianity, the evil Emperor Diocletian gave up the tactic of mass-murder, not because he was humane, but because he was a smart and infinitely corrupt tyrant who was shrewd enough to abandon what had been proven to be a hopeless quest. Nonetheless, despite that lesson from Roman history, a similar mass-murder against Jews was done by the German heir of the Roman Empire's tradition, Adolf Hitler. Thus, when all earlier efforts by the Roman Emperors to exterminate Christianity by Hitler-like methods had failed, Diocletian's faithful follower Constantine sought to accomplish, by corruption, what Rome had failed to effect by mass-murderous, overtly repressive force. Indeed, the current reality is that neither Christianity, nor Islam, could be extinguished from this planet, except by the destruction of the planet itself.

Thus, a would-be new Roman Empire, the heritage of Lord Shelburne's British Empire, reacted to U.S. President Abraham Lincoln's victory over Lord Palmerston's puppet, the slaveowner's Confederacy. Britain reacted to the defeat of its Confederacy puppet, by reliance on corruption deployed within, through the New York financial center's leading tools of British financier interests within the U.S.A. Where mere force had failed, Constantine's strategy for destroying Christianity was by corruption, by legalizing it as a cult of the heathen Roman Imperial Pantheon. The corruption was expressed through Constantine's effort to control the selection of the bishops of an imperially legalized church. A similar, implicitly treasonous factor within London-linked U.S. financier circles has been used, repeatedly, in the use of corruption, as against the Franklin Roosevelt tradition by President Harry Truman, as a weapon to destroy the U.S.A., by corruption, from within.

Alexander the Great and his counselors of the Platonic Academy, defeated the design for such an oligarchical "world empire" at that time; but, with the close of the Second Punic War, and the fall of Syracuse and the deaths of Eratosthenes and his collaborator Archimedes, the emergence of the Roman Empire of the Mediterranean and adjoining regions was merely a matter of time.

Since that time, the tradition of the Roman Empire has persisted in various guises, as an earlier Rome was superseded by Diocletian's adoption of what had been the post-Peloponnesian War, Babylonian design for intended oligarchical world-rule: this time, by dividing the Roman Empire between its failing Western branch, Rome, and its Eastern branch, Byzantium.

So, the decline of Byzantium was exploited by Venice's financier oligarchy, to create the medieval system of Europe, in partnership with the brutish Norman chivalry.

So, the rise of modern European civilization was corrupted and nearly destroyed by the replacement of the failed Norman chivalry by the bestiality of the religious warfare launched by that satanic figure, Grand Inquisitor Tomàs de Torquemada, who sparked a 1492-1648 wave of Venice-steered religious warfare against modern European civilization.

This was the Torquemada who was the model chosen for crafting the synthetic personality of the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, by the leader of Martinist freemasonary, Count Joseph de Maistre. This same model of Torquemada as "The Executioner," which de Maistre crafted directly for the creation of the personality of Napoleon as Emperor, was that copied for the creation of the same type of personality in the morally putrid flesh of Adolf Hitler.

The mass murder of Jews by Hitler, was and is the legacy of Torquemada and his nominally Christian, synarchist and kindred followers of Europe and throughout the Americas to the present day.

The legacy of the Norman and Torquemada's crusades, is the root of the present-day Anglo-Dutch Liberal system's intentions to stage a global religious warfare against Islam, the religious warfare which the British Arab Bureau's Bernard Lewis has done so much to foment today.

Why the Press Fraud Against the Pope
Jesus Christ was born a Jew, and was murdered as what Rome viewed as a threat of reestablishment of a Jewish state. Christ's principal Apostles were Jews, as this is typified by the close association of the Apostle Peter with the great Jewish teacher Philo of Alexandria. The exemplary relation of Jew and Christian, alike, to Islam, is that typified by the collaboration of Christian, Muslim, and Jew which was expressed in the collaboration between Charlemagne and the Baghdad Caliphate. It should have been always, as the great theologian of Europe's Fifteenth-Century Renaissance, Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa presented this fact in his De Pace Fidei.

However, ever since Charlemagne's leadership in ecumenicism among Christian, Jew, and Islam, the legacy of the imperial Rome which perpetrated the judicial murder of Jesus Christ and masses of Christians, has repeatedly sought to reaffirm the oligarchical system of imperial reign, through putting Christians, Jews, and Muslims against one another's throats, as we see in the press orchestration of today's widespread, fraudulent representation of the implications of an excerpt from Pope Benedict's address. The history of the British Empire, to the present day of the British Arab Bureau's Bernard Lewis, is exemplary of this use of religious warfare as an instrument of attempted global imperial reign by Venetian-style financier-oligarchy, the same attempt expressed today by the use of "globalization" to eradicate the institution of the sovereign nation-state.

The corrupt action of the international press, in this matter, has the ominous character of an effort to arrange the assassination of a Pope Benedict not much liked among Lynne Cheney's friends in Liz Symons' London, and have the Islamic world blamed for the attempt.

Indeed, the widespread, fraudulent representation of the recent address on the subject of ecumenicism, by Pope Benedict, can not be competently understood, except as a fresh expression of the malicious propaganda-effort of the British Arab Bureau's Bernard Lewis (the assigned controller of Harvard-trained British agents Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and Samuel P. Huntington's "Clash of Civilizations"). So, as the Roman Empire sought to destroy Charlemagne's ecumenical collaboration among Christians, Jews, and Islam, through the Venetian-directed Norman Crusaders, the contemporary Anglo-Dutch-Liberal faction of today's imperial finance has created and deployed Bernard Lewis's pro-satanic dogma of "Clash of Civilizations," using not only corrupt U.S. creatures such as Kissinger, Huntington, and their ilk, but also Bush-loving fanatics whose adopted beliefs are close to the essentials of a Satanic cult.

Meanwhile, elements in the ranks of nominal Moslems who have been traditionally assets spun out of London's puppet Al-Afghani, are used by Anglo-Dutch Liberal intelligence organizations, as creatures from a drama written and directed by Bernard Lewis, to seek, thus, to bring Islam to self-destruction of its peoples from within.

Witness those abysmally immoral degenerates, the fanatical backers of a lunatic President George W. Bush, Jr., whose very presence in office defiles the name of Christianity. Witness nominal Catholics who continue the tradition of the Habsburgs and Coudenhove-Kalergi in frankly fascist guise still today, the continuing tradition of the religious warfare of 1492-1648. See the fraudulent mass-media treatment of Benedict's proffer of a dialogue of religions, as being a part of the preparations for Vice-President Dick Cheney's intended launching of a probably nuclear-armed attack on Iran at some moment of orchestrated opportunity prior to the November U.S. mid-term elections.

Such an attack on Iran would be the detonator of an unquenchable global holocaust which would not end until it had burned out the combustible material of our planet as a whole. Such an attack on Iran is the goal of those behind the fraudulent operation against Pope Benedict run on Vice-President Cheney's behalf, through a complicit European and other corrupt, and usually lying mass media, on whose rotten moral character I have remarkably expert personal experience.

Any political leader of any nation, who is not a fool, will quickly see this matter as I do. Anyone foolish enough to play into the game which an orchestrated press has played through the fraudulent treatment of an excerpt taken from the Pope's remarks, will be guilty of any Hell on Earth which continued promotion of the press-hoax is clearly intended to facilitate.

1. What Must You Believe?
The common conception of the nature of man and woman, shared among Jew, Christian, and Muslim, is that distinction emphasized in the conclusion of the first Chapter of the Book of Genesis. I can attest to the absolute, scientific validity of those verses from my personal knowledge. I can attest, to a related subject, to the absolute validity of that denunciation which was presented by Philo of Alexandria against the philosophically reductionist misconception of Creation. This is what we, all three, should believe.

The Creator of the universe must be recognized as a living personality, whose nature, as distinguished from that of all of the beasts, is reflected in the essential nature of the immortal essence of the creative powers, absent among the beasts, but which is the essential distinction of the human personality. On that account, the lives of all human individuals are sacred under the natural law of this eternal universe. So, we must see the relationship among Christian, Jew, and Muslim as Nicholas of Cusa portrays this principle in his famous dialogue De Pace Fidei. In this configuration of the social process, the individual's belief must be primarily accountable to this specific kind of personal relationship, as emphasized by Cusa, to the living Creator existing as the actively willful power within a finite, but boundlessly self-bounded universe.

So, as nations must be sovereign in their lawmaking, the community of sovereign peoples must seek constantly to come to a less imperfect common understanding of the natural law implicit in the Creator's governance of that universe. We must never overestimate the perfection of what we might consider to be our established belief. We shall always have much which is essential yet to discover, and a task of which we had not dreamed to do.

However, this needed understanding, by any person, or by any nation, or any body of religious belief, is necessarily imperfect in two ways. Firstly, we know the universe as it exists until now only imperfectly, as the Apostle Paul insists in his I Corinthians 13. Secondly, as Philo warns the Aristoteleans of his time, God the Creator never surrendered His power to change the universe which He had created. Philo's argument implies the question: Would any sane person pray to a Creator which they believed to be impotent? A wise Jewish Rabbi would say, therefore, and some whom I have known, have done, that the Messiah will not return according to some time-table, but only when the Creator chooses.

On the matter of the higher implications of the Creator's nature: the best evidence of scientific knowledge is, that as the Solar planetary system was generated, as a higher form of existence, by a young, fast-spinning Sun, God's universe is not fixed, is never entropic, but always anti-entropic, always working to develop and expand into higher states of existence. Mankind's essential mission is to act in the likeness of the Creator, and companion of that Creator, in this way.

Accordingly, we must approach the management of the affairs of the universe in a manner which is governed by a careful blending of certainties and humilities.

An Example: Modern European Science
Modern European science emerged out of the influence of the history of ancient Egypt, as in the form of what the ancient Classical Greeks, such as the Pythagoreans and Plato, knew as the scientific method of Sphaerics. Although this knowledge, as typified by the circles of Plato, was sustained by the Platonic Academy until about B.C. 212, until the deaths of Eratosthenes and Archimedes, it was largely suppressed by the influence of the Delphi Apollo cult on the ideology of ancient Rome, both before and after the imperial phase. Much of the knowledge was kept on record, in Greek, under Byzantium, and was echoed in the collected work of the Baghdad Caliphate, but this knowledge was not revived as a leading, active feature of culture until the Venetian-Norman ultramontane system of tyranny had collapsed, and the subsequent rise of the influence of the great ecumenical Council of Florence.

Modern science, and its beneficial effects on shaping mankind's conception of itself, was founded as experimental physical science by Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa, beginning with his De Docta Ignorantia. All of the valid currents of modern science are traced from that point through such students of Cusa as Luca Pacioli and Leonardo da Vinci. However, a systematic view of physical science as a whole was first established by Cusa follower Johannes Kepler's uniquely original discovery of universal gravitation. From that point on, science progressed along the lines marked chiefly by Fermat, Leibniz, Gauss, and Riemann, in opposition to the reductionists typified by such house-lackeys and followers of Venice's Paolo Sarpi as the scurrilous Galileo Galilei, the wicked Rene Descartes, the morally perverted John Locke, and the Eighteenth-Century radical reductionists de Moivre, d'Alembert, Euler, Lagrange, and the Nineteenth-Century followers of Laplace, Cauchy, Kelvin, Helmholtz, et al.

The relevant point to be emphasized here, is that the differences between the two, principally opposing currents in modern European physical science, between the followers of Cusa and Kepler, and the reductionist schools of empiricism, positivism, and existentialism, are essentially theological, that in the specific sense that the science of the followers of Cusa, Kepler, Leibniz, and Riemann, is emphatically a Christian view of the universe consistent with the referenced identification of man and woman in Genesis 1, whereas the reductionist schools in science find their roots in the tradition of the implicitly pro-Satanic school of the Delphi Apollo and Roman imperial Pantheon.

These same issues, which appear in such forms in the domain of European physical science since ancient Classical Greece, are related to the ugly fact that organized Christianity itself is dying in North America and western and central Europe, this as a result of the induced cultural paradigm-shift which was launched by such frankly Satanic cults as the Congress for Cultural Freedom led by such deceased and still living creatures of the U.S.A. as the late Professor Sidney Hook and currently active John Train.

This decadence spread within the Christian churches, including the Catholic Church, is typified by the accelerated shrinking of the clergy, through the combined effects of aging and death of the older ranks, and the lack of renewal of those ranks from younger volunteers. This decadence is also expressed, in appropriate forms, by the wild-eyed lunatic cults associated with the political base of increasingly demented U.S. President George W. Bush, Jr. Fewer and fewer serve, because fewer and fewer believe, a fault which lies not in the belief, but in the believer.

The most important, common, practical issue of religion and science, is the issue of truth. In both cases, the issue is essentially the same. No living person has ever seen a universal physical principle with the human senses, nor has he seen the Creator. Both objects exist, but since each encompasses the entire universe, neither is an object of sense-perception. Sense-perception perceives no more than the footprints of each. So, just as we are enabled, as Cusa, Kepler, and Leibniz were, to discover universal physical principles, we are enabled, by the same quality unique to the human mind, to recognize the proof of the existence of the Creator.

The problem behind this phenomenon of decadence today, is that the alternative to truth is what is often called "democracy," but is better recognized as Sophistry. The standard here is the same which Plato's dialogues present as the evidence against the Sophistry through which a formerly triumphant Athens destroyed itself through the adoption of that Sophistry associated with that Democratic Party of Athens which perpetrated the judicial murder of the saintly Socrates.

The characteristic of Sophistry is the substitution of belief in popular opinion of some group in society for scientific evidence, just as the idea of "democracy" associated with the Athens of Pericles induced Athens to destroy itself in the Peloponnesian War. The decline and fall of European civilization now, especially since the time of the official cover-up of the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, and the earlier replacement of the policies of President Franklin Roosevelt by the corruption embodied in the Harry Truman administration, has led into the virtual bankruptcy of the U.S.A, and western and central Europe today.

Powerful cultures are never destroyed except as global civilization is being destroyed today, by the decadence spreading from the USA and Europe, the decadence typified by the role of pro-British U.S. President Harry Truman and the rise of the so-called "68ers" of Europe and the Americas today.

The problem now is that advocacy of what is induced as widely accepted mass opinion, is used as a substitute for, and even a vicious opponent of truth. That is what the term "Sophistry" means. That is what the terms "rhetoric," or "spin," mean. "You can't go against popular opinion," is the sound of the death-rattle of whole civilizations.

2. Truth Is Love of All Mankind
Do you love mankind? Is love of all mankind your highest priority in all matters, including religious belief?

Take the case of the Netherlands today. One of the ugliest problems of moral corruption seen anywhere on this planet today, is the notorious Dutch policy toward persons past the age of seventy years. Euthanasia is cheaper than Nazi death-camps as a way of ridding a nation of an unwanted population. A nation which tolerates such practice of so-called "euthanasia" should be regarded as an outlaw nation until such time as it might mend its ways.

Of course, this policy of mass murder in the name of "euthanasia," was begun by my wealthy enemies inside the U.S.A., not Nazi Germany. The Dutch gave us the Elm disease; the U.S.A. gave Hitler and today's Dutch government the euthanasia disease.

This illustrates the point, that the worst crimes against humanity are those practiced in the name of adopted policies of governments, or, simply, the spread of a certain strain of popular opinion. Thus, the greatest of all crimes is lack of a primary emphasis on love for all mankind. Religious and racial hatred, such as anti-Semitism, or hatred against Islam, or, hatred of Christians, is, on record of known history, the most evil expression of criminality to be seen on the planet today.

Return attention to Nicholas of Cusa's De Pace Fidei on this account. If you love the Creator, you must view all branches of the human family in that light, as Cusa presents that argument there. This was the stroke of genius expressed by the role of Cardinal Mazarin, in bringing the warring people of Europe to the commitment to "love one another," in the 1648 Peace of Westphalia. The great danger to all humanity today, is the attempts, on the one side, of pitiably deranged minds like that of President George W. Bush, Jr., or the brutishly pro-Satanic Vice-President Dick Cheney, to launch a war against Islam, and the danger that forces within Islam would tend to react in kind. In either case, especially in the case of such responses from both sides, civilization throughout this planet would be doomed to effects to be suffered for generations yet to come.

The same forces behind the fraudulent campaigns of a corrupt international press, in using a willfully lying fallacy of composition to stir up Islamic hatreds against a Pope Benedict, are the forces behind the intention of having Vice-President Cheney launch a terrible aerial attack of about a month's duration against Iran and other targets. If you wish a session in Hell for yourself and also your descendants, if any actually live, continue the kind of pattern of action and reaction which the widespread press-hoax against Pope Benedict unleashed during this past week.


Michael Carmichael
Planetary Movement

Unexpectedly, it came upon the vernal equinox, and it was a strategic masterstroke.

Dennis Kucinich’s arrival in London crept up on the global peace movement like a fog settling over the ancient city that resulted in high voltage blasts of white-hot political thunderbolts.

Married to a British woman in 2005, Dennis Kucinich visited his new British family in the quiet surroundings of Upminister and then travelled across London to Parliament Square where he addressed an august assembly of top-ranking peace veterans convened by the Stop the War Coalition, the same people who had assembled one million marchers in Hyde Park on February 15, 2003.

After two striking appearances on the BBC, Kucinich entered Central Hall in doughty Parliament Square situated directly across from the Palace of Westminster, the seat of Parliament and Britain’s ancient democracy.

Under the huge dome of Central Hall, the grand master of British politics, Tony Benn, welcomed the throng of one thousand enthusiastic peace activists. Reminding the crowd that the United Nations had held some of its very first meetings in the same room in 1946, Benn introduced Dennis Kucinich as the shining new star in the global campaign for peace and the undisputed head of the burgeoning American peace movement.

Kucinich was awarded star billing in all the advance publicity for the event titled, “The Peoples Assembly – The Debate Parliament won’t have.” With the limelight shining directly on him as the first speaker in a star-studded line-up that included over fifty members of Parliament, Kucinich delivered a stunning series of statements that pleased, energized and eventually electrified the crowd assembled in Westminster.

Beginning with warm personal remarks, Kucinich introduced his wife, Elizabeth, herself a highly respected global campaigner for human rights. With his newly acquired British cultural credentials firmly established, Kucinich launched into an attack on the propriety, the legality and the morality of the Bush-Blair war in Iraq. Throughout his systematic deconstruction of the legal and moral foundations of the Iraq war, Kucinich delivered a devastating demolition of the neoconservative paradigm and everything it stands for.

Kucinich proclaimed, “We must seek to replace the law of force with the force of law.”

Citing international law, Kucinich went much further than even the eager audience anticipated in his critique of contemporary international relations. Criticizing George Bush, Tony Blair and his rivals: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards who are vying with him for the Democratic nomination for president, Kucinich pointed out that threatening Iran with military aggression was a direct violation of Article 6 of the UN charter, a document that had been debated from the same platform he was standing upon that very day.

The crowd went wild with enthusiasm and broke into his speech with thunderous torrents of applause. Kucinich was hailed as the man the world had been waiting for – an American politician with the courage of his convictions who adheres to the canon of international law who would install peace in place of war in the most powerful nation on earth.

Warming to his audience, Kucinich moved into his visionary agenda to restore America, a nation that is known to be lagging far behind so many others in providing the basics to its citizens. Kucinich proposed to “break the shackles of fear” encumbering America and a swift return to constitutional democracy via the immediate repeal of the notorious “Patriot Act.” His presidential prescription included a constellation of universally recognized elements: environmental protection; universal health care; free education from kindergarten through college; withdrawal from NAFTA and the WTO; the displacement of war and the imposition of peace as an official department of the federal government.

Hurrying to catch his plane to Washington, Kucinich was besieged by a trailing wake of admirers and the international press corps. On his way down an exit corridor he was button-holed by television crews from Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

In one fell stroke, Dennis Kucinich emerged from London town with the olive branch and the laurel crown – the shining hope of billions and the only American presidential candidate with any peace credentials worth having.

Peace insurgencies have been very successful in past Democratic presidential campaigns. RFK, Eugene McCarthy, George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Gary Hart even Paul Tsongas and Bill Clinton could be deemed to have been representatives of peace insurgencies in their days. Howard Dean surged as the anti-war candidate in 2003. In 2007, Kucinich is now poised and perfectly positioned for a surge forward in the American presidential contest.

Kucinich’s strategic positioning comes at a time when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are bashing one another over the war issue. Every scintilla of momentum stripped from those campaigns will accrue to Kucinich’s building head of steam for a potential surge of political momentum.

With the latest tragic developments striking the campaign of John Edwards and the SEIU healthcare forum in Nevada this weekend, this campaign is finally on the brink of becoming interesting.


During the Ottoman period, in fact, long before struggles for the creation of a single sovereign national state in this territory, a multiplicity of institutional arrangements governed servicing and representation in the city, and they operated in ways that led to relatively peaceful co-existence among the city's Jews, Muslims and Catholics, say Diane Davis, Leila Farsakh and Tali Hatuka.

BOSTON - It is often said that the future of Jerusalem depends in large part on the future of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. While this is undoubtedly true, change and improvement in Jerusalem can be achieved independently of any final peace agreement. In fact, transformation in Jerusalem may actually aid the resolution of the larger conflict. For this reason, it is important to think about ways to make the city of Jerusalem a more liveable, just and humane place. If citizens in this contested locale had more opportunities to share a commitment to the same city, so as to increase the likelihood of living together in peace and harmony, then some progress on the larger nationalist conflict just might accrue. This realization is behind a new project that we have developed at MIT, called Just Jerusalem: Vision for a Place of Peace. Our aim is to generate new ideas and discussions about Jerusalem as it might be in the future - a just city shared in peace by its residents, whether Muslim, Christian or Jewish, Palestinian or Israeli. What would it take to make a city claimed by two nations and central to three religions "merely" a city, a place of difference and diversity in which contending ideas and citizenries can co-exist in benign yet creative ways?

The genesis of this project emerges, in part, from a sense that it may be time to try a new approach to Jerusalem, one that entails envisioning this city as transcending the constraints imposed by nation-states. If the superimposition of nationalist projects and aspirations on ethnically- or religiously-diverse urban locales like Jerusalem has fanned the flames of aggression and violent conflict, could concerted efforts to think about what social, political, economic or spatial practices would "emancipate" this city from nationalist blueprints possibly serve as the solution, or, at minimum, help lay a partial foundation for greater tolerance and perhaps even peace?

Why at this time in history would we want to think about a new vision for Jerusalem as a city that is institutionally autonomous from competing nation-states while at the same time capable of collectively embracing all the distinctive religious or ethnic groups that people it? To embark on such a project, which calls for an analytical bypassing of nation-states and rethinking the concept of citizenship, will invite controversy and opposition both within and outside the Middle East, primarily because it entails working against the grain of prevailing approaches to conflict resolution proposed by peacemaking specialists for the Middle East and most other regions of the world.

One commanding reason it is worth proposing that the city serve as the analytic entry point for producing peace is the fact that conditions change, and with historical change we see new opportunities that may have been foreclosed in the past. Now we are facing a world in which the powers and responsibilities of the nation-state are being transformed by globalisation, when the asserted value of the state as the primordial agent of domestic politics is under question on a variety of fronts and when cities themselves are becoming actors in the global scene.

Jerusalem's long and complex history not only shows us how destructive were early twentieth-century efforts to impose a nation-state logic on this religiously and ethnically diverse city, which for centuries had functioned relatively well without a single sovereign nation. It also offers some clues as to how and why efforts to imagine a city belonging to no nation-state(s) might bring it one step closer to peace. During the Ottoman period, in fact, long before struggles for the creation of a single sovereign national state in this territory, a multiplicity of institutional arrangements governed servicing and representation in the city, and they operated in ways that led to relatively peaceful co-existence among the city's Jews, Muslims and Catholics. By no means are we proposing an uncritical return to a period of imperialism. However, in this early period the binary - or even tripartite - understanding of space and identity that now generates so much controversy was almost completely absent. This suggests that the linking of land, people, and nationality - which now serves as the unquestioned basis for almost all negotiations - is just one of the many possible ways the city could and has been organized. Such observations suggest the importance of thinking about alternative models for organizing and managing the city, including those that disappeared when competing nation-states hijacked the discourses and practices of urban organization.

Just Jerusalem: Vision for a Place of Peace is a project determined to generate new ideas and discussions about Jerusalem as it might be in the future. As an international competition it calls for visions of Jerusalem that transcend nationalist discourses and instead focus on the questions of daily life and the "right to the city" for all its inhabitants today as much as in the future. All entries to the competition will be expected to describe what it would take to create this type of urban arena by the year 2050. The year 2050 is not an arbitrary point in time so much as a metaphor for a future far enough from the present conflict to allow some freedom to imagine a different situation, but near enough to generate serious deliberation.

The competition addresses the belief that the nature of the city, and the way out of its conflicts, cannot be reduced to a single, negotiated view. In the case of Jerusalem, such consensus-building strategies are often part of the problem, leading to conflict over the terms and outcomes - not to mention perceived betrayals - of negotiation. The process of negotiation pretends that all parties are brought to the table as equal partners; yet this is rarely, if ever, the case. We seek to bypass the standard route of negotiation between "representative" peoples and turn instead to the liberating and regenerative potential of individual imagination and vision.

Just Jerusalem: Vision for a Place of Peace is an interdisciplinary initiative led by MIT's Center for International Studies (CIS) and Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP).

For more information, please check our websites:

Diane Davis is associate dean of the School of Architecture and Planning and political sociology professor of urban studies and planning at MIT. Leila Farsakh is assistant professor in political science at the University of Massachusetts Boston and research affiliate at the Center for International Studies at MIT. Tali Hatuka, is an architect, urban designer and research fellow in MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning. This article is distributed by the Common Ground News Service and can be accessed at GCNews.

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)