The Pacis Project in Faith-Based Diplomacy of the Straus Institute of Pepperdine University Law School of Malibu, California and the International Center For Religion and Diplomacy of Washington DC, in cooperation with the Southern California Board of Rabbis and the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, conducted an Abrahamic faith-based reconciliation seminar for a group of sixteen (16) Jewish and Muslim leaders from Southern California, June 8 – 9, 2009 at Pepperdine University in Malibu. This opportunity grew out of an earlier initiative that was attempted in 2006 and the more recent launching of The Pacis Project in Faith-Based Diplomacy as a joint initiative of Straus and ICRD.
The Pacis Project of ICRD/Straus has undertaken a faith-based initiative to harness the transcendent power of religion to contribute to healing the broken family of Abraham in Southern California. In essence, we are bringing an innovative model of faith-based reconciliation as a religious framework for peacemaking that has borne tangible fruit in other intractable identity-based conflicts such as in Kashmir. This approach is defined by eight core values and by a deliberative process that focuses on creating a reconciling spirit between antagonists as a prelude to constructive joint problem solving.
As a methodology it is not a form of interfaith dialogue or a traditional conflict resolution model. It is a totally unique experience that causes participants to search the depths of their own being and to experience at the deepest level the heart of “the other” in a faith-based context. It is the reality of an ancient process reemerging in the twenty first century to address the deepest and most profound differences between communities. It is Abrahamic reconciliation!
In organizing the faith-based reconciliation seminar Canon Brian Cox, Tim Pownall and Michael Zacharia worked with Rabbi Mark Diamond and Jonathan Freund of the Board of Rabbis and with Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi and Jihad Turk of the Islamic Shura Council. It was decided to begin with a small group of senior and middle level leaders from the two Abrahamic communities. It was also decided to focus specifically on the relationship between the Jewish and Muslim communities at this particular time.
The two day event was conducted at the Pepperdine University Executive Center. There were seven presentations on different core values of faith-based reconciliation followed by small group discussions and/or exercises. The seven presentations were:
The presentations were given by Brian Cox, Tim Pownall, Michael Zacharia, Tahir Aziz and Jonathan Freund.
There were nine exercises/activities:
Both the verbal and written feedback from the participants highlighted the following key points:
A meeting was held on June 29 at the Board of Rabbis that included Canon Brian Cox, Tim Pownall, Michael Zacharia, Rabbi Mark Diamond, Jonathan Freund and Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi. We began by reflecting on the results of the faith-based reconciliation process of June 8 – 9 and then discussed the next steps. The leaders of the two communities expressed the following desires and concerns:
As a result of these desires and concerns the decision was made to move forward in six key ways: