Mason Cosponsors Session between Jordan’s King Abdullah and U.S. Rabbis

Posted: September 22, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Lori Jennings

George Mason’s Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution (CRDC) within the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, coordinated a session on Wednesday between His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan and a group of U.S. rabbis.

The private meeting held in Washington, D.C., was requested by the king to discuss the future of the relationship between Judaism and Islam. Marc Gopin, director of CRDC and James H. Laue Professor of Religion, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution, headed George Mason’s role in the seminar.

“This is a new stage in the very nature of official diplomacy because we had a head of state and a mechanism by which he could do diplomacy with tens of thousands of people who will listen to the sermons of the rabbis who were present,” says Gopin. “Numerous rabbis, practically with tears in their eyes, asked for copies of his speech afterwards to they could cite the text in their sermons in the upcoming holy season.”

Gopin adds, “It was a transformative event, for the Jewish community and particularly for the rabbis in the United States. It was the first time in history that an Arab or Muslim Monarch had so honored their religion and their culture. He quoted Judaic religious texts with a deep respect and appreciation.”

This is not the first time Gopin has engaged in back-channel diplomacy with religious, political and military figures on both sides of conflicts, especially in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Gopin has trained thousands of people worldwide in peacemaking strategies for complex conflicts in which religion and culture play a role. He conducts research on values dilemmas as they apply to international problems of globalization, clash of cultures, development, social justice and conflict.

Gopin joined Mason and established CRDC in 2003. He was an invited guest at the 2004 World Economic Forum’s Middle East Economic Summit in Jordan, where he made a presentation on inter-religious relations with the senior representatives of Middle Eastern religions and senior correspondents of Middle Eastern media.

Gopin also was one of several facilitators of a session on the Arab-Israeli conflict that included major business leaders, a U.S. Congressman, and representatives of Israel and Palestine.

The mission of CRDC is to reduce global violence and terrorism by incorporating the best moral practices of religious communities into policy planning, diplomacy, civil society building and democratization. The group works to provide policy makers and activists with strategies to elicit moderate moral religious expressions in conflict regions, with a goal of strengthening civil society and democracy.

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