Saturday, February 16, 2008

U.S.-Islamic World Forum

I had the extraordinary opportunity to attend the opening session of the Brookings Institute U.S.-Islamic World Forum tonight in Doha. I continue to be astounding by being here and how so many fortuitous things happen to place me in the path of interesting people who are doing such incredible things around the world. I was contacted by a Georgetown University (D.C.) professor and former U.S.A. Ambassador to the Netherlands, to talk about how the Brookings Institute might partner with Qatar Foundation to support one of the "U.S.-Islamic World Forum" programs - the Arts and Culture Leaders initiative. I offered to meet Cynthia before the conference began and this unfolded into an evening at the conference, including the opportunity to hear His Excellency Hamid Karzai, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State of the U.S.A., and others discuss "The Opportunities and Challenges Ahead in the U.S.-Muslim World Relationship."

The atmosphere of the opening session was upbeat but it very clearly and honestly explored the incredibly bad position the U.S.A. is in with its Arab relationships. All the speakers noted that 9-11-01 and politicians and media portrayal since that time has driven a deep wedge between the relationships the U.S.A. previously had. Albright's analysis of what it will take to rebuild included five key points that she proposed as top priorities for the new President of the U.S.A.:
1. Figuring out how to deal with terrorists without creating more in the process.
2. Curbing the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Gulf and elsewhere.
3. Restoring the good name of democracy after a period when it has been so abused and maligned.
4. Learning to deal with both the up and downsides of globalization.
5. Finding ways to effectively address environmental degradation.

She went on to say that it is a mistake to divide the Arab world into simplistic, either/or dichotomies and that it is crucial that Americans cease to see Islam as the enemy. In order to do this, America needs to listen more and lecture less, something on which we've been very short over the last several years. Her final comment was reciting three core messages of faith:
1. Blessed are the peacemakers (from the New Testament of the Bible)
2. Swords shall be beaten into plowshares (from the Old Testament of the Bible/Torah)
3. Enter in peace, one and all (Quran)
These are simple and direct statement that identify the essential core of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Passionate moderates who believe these principles will be those who will save our globe from slipping further into a camp mentality that undermines our ability to learn from each other.

The U.S.A. has some formidable challenges ahead but new leadership is on the horizon. Choosing wisely for both domestic and foreign affairs reasons will make all the difference to what kind of world our youth and children will inherit. Note to self - what am I doing to listen more deeply and to help my fellow U.S.A. citizens understand that U.S.-Islamic affairs are not as hopeless as one might think?

1 comment:

voyager3000 said...

Dennis, FYI and as notification for all interested readers of your blog. This is a Press Release which might have a profound relation to your blog theme:

A Palestinian Nation Building Movement for 21st Century has been Born.

this is a press release from my friends of Center for Human Emergence Middle East:

Director Said E. Dawlabani forewarded it to me and I am convinced its relvant for all professionals who engaged with hearts and minds in Middle East. Its about most comprehensive perspectives for a possible Renaissance for Arab World. Including Values based and innovative approaches for this evolving part of the world. As World Economic Forum on Middle East and its chairman Klaus Schwab realized already long time ago.

Please feel free to foreward it to Print and TV Media, to Poltical bloggers and even business related projects.

The full list of suggestions is being compiled in a booklet which will
be presented to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister
Salam Fayyad, President George W. Bush, Special Envoy to the Middle
East Tony Blair, and the United Nations.

A Palestinian Nation-Building Movement for the 21st Century has been Born

February 14, 2008
Sponsored by The Center for Human Emergence Middle East, the event inaugurated the “Palestine 21” project which aims to empower Palestinian citizens to design their own state.

The convention was organized by Palestinian leaders inspired by the geopolitical work of Dr. Don Beck, the American founder of the Global Centers for Human Emergence (CHE).

"For the political ‘Road Map’ involving Israel and Palestine to be successful, the ‘Palestinian Development Map’ must first be implemented,” Dr. Beck said at the event.
Palestinian participants traveled by bus from Jericho, Qalqyliah, Tulkarm , Hebron, Ramallah, Nablus and Jerusalem, spending long hours at checkpoints throughout the West Bank.

Elza Maalouf , the Arab-American CEO of CHE Middle East, opened the event, saying “’Palestine 21’ fits within our overall plan to support human and societal emergence in our region, and Palestinians, together with other Arabs, will lead the way."


“It is an honor and a deep source of happiness for me to partner in the Middle East with Dr. Beck, a world-renowned expert on human and societal emergence, “ Ms. Maalouf added. “His work was field-tested during the South African transition from Apartheid and will greatly benefit the transition to nationhood in Palestine.”

 Nafiz Rifaee, the Palestinian leader who designed and organized the event with the help of a team of dedicated men and women, urged the audience to focus on the future of their children and the future of Palestine. “This all started when Dr. Beck asked us how were we going to spend the seven billion dollars coming from donor countries. Do we have a sustainable plan for development? Or will all flow through the usual channels?” Mr. Rifaee recalled.

The walls of the convention room at the Shepherd Hotel in Bethlehem were plastered with large sheets of paper filled with the people’s personal ideas and aspirations for their beloved Palestine. Recommendations included the design of a First World public school system, world-class universities, an eco-sensitive transportation plan, universal health care, and representative government.

The full list of suggestions is being compiled in a booklet which will be presented to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, President George W. Bush, Special Envoy to the Middle East Tony Blair, and the United Nations.

FOR MEDIA CONTACT: Said E. Dawlabani, Director CHE Mideast (619) 857-8157 \n This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it