‘The Conference was graphically reminded of another area where to free the future a past must be faced on the Sunday afternoon. George Diakos, a theological student at Athens University, and an orthodox Christian from Cyprus sat next to Levent Altinay a Muslim Turkish Cypriot reading for a Ph D At Brookes University in Oxford. Both came from the same island but an island separated and divided. History, ideology and political analysis were clear to each and clearly expressed: the two young articulate men were a paradigm of what it really meant to face the past so that the future might be freed. There was a tangible tension in the room but when Deepak Naik asked what each was going to do when he got back to his community, common ground had been found: each would tell the young people in his island group that the other side wanted peace, and co existence and an end to division. The applause was loud and prolonged and one felt that in that Oxford room, some small step had been taken on either side and that indeed there was a sign that the future would be faced’. (Extract from article by David Craig on Facing the Past, Freeing the Future, IIC conference)
Yehuda Stolov of Interfaith Encounter Association tells the story of a dialogue encounter between Jews and Arabs in Israel after which the Jewish participants told him off for not bringing ‘real’ Arabs to the meeting. They had found the Arabs who were there to be like themselves and not at all what they had thought they would be like.
“I think the biggest problem in Israel is that the Jews and not Jews don’t meet; with non Jews I mean mainly the Arabs.They have to interact, but don’t really meet; there is no real deep encounter between the two. A friend of mine from Egypt always says ‘you think you have a full picture of the other and what you don’t have as real information you complete with prejudices! I think this is the main source for many problems in the Middle-East. And once you really do meet the other and know the real truth about the other, even you might not agree with it or not, at least you get the real picture about the other.And this meeting of the real other makes him human to you. So I think bringing Jews and Arabs together is the real way to bring peace; it works. When people meet for the first time, you see the transformation of people who had many prejudices, and suddenly are even disappointed and say ‘they are human; they are very simular to us; you said you would us bring Arabs, but these are like us; bring us the real Arabs!’
For full conversation with Yehuda see Faith and Interfaith videos