Bridges across an Impossible Divide: The Inner Lives of Arab and Jewish Peacemakers
Ph.D., 1992, Brandeis University, Dept. of near Eastern and Judaic Studies Dissertation Topic: The Religious Ethics of Samuel David Luzzatto
M.A., 1988, Brandeis University, Dept. of near Eastern and Judaic Studies
Peace between Arabs and Jews seems forever out of reach, both sides caught in a never-ending cycle of violence and revenge. But while treaties and other top-down solutions have had little lasting effect, peacemakers on the ground are creating real change-within themselves and with their enemies.
In Bridges across an Impossible Divide, American professor Marc Gopin offers an unprecedented exploration of the spiritual lives of Arab and Jewish peacemakers who have evolved deep friendships despite decades of war and suffering on all sides. Through trial and error the peacemakers in this book have devised their own unique methods of looking inward and reaching out across enemy lines. Gopin provides insightful analysis of the lessons to be learned from these peace builders, outlining the characteristics that make them successful. He argues that lasting conflict and misery between enemies is the result of an emotional, cognitive, and ethical failure to self-examine, and that the true transformation of a troubled society is brought about by the spiritual introspection of extraordinary, determined individuals.
The book is unique in that its central body is the actual words of peacemakers themselves as they speak of their struggles to overcome the death of loved ones and to find common ground with adversaries. Most of these accounts are from peacemakers who have hardly written before. This is a treasure trove for scholars and the general public who seek to understand the conflict and its peacemakers at a far deeper level. These remarkable stories reveal a level of inner examination that is rarely encountered in the literature of political science, international relations, or even conflict resolution theory. They show how building friendships invigorates the effort to bring equality, nonviolent social change, and reconciliation to warring peoples.
Bridges across an Impossible Divide takes readers beyond the rhetoric of political leaders into the spiritual lives of men and women actually making peace with their enemies.
"This moving and brilliant book should be read by all who doubt that peace is possible between Arabs and Israelis. The author's own life has been a journey from the comfort of his own community to an embrace of strangers, a sacred voyage that has brought him face to face with everyday peacemakers on both sides of the divide. Gopin maps the way out of hatred through the words of extraordinary people who fight for peace."--Laurence R. Simon, Professor of International Development, Brandeis University
"Marc Gopin's findings are fresh, unique, and greatly needed. He breaks new ground in the field of spiritually advanced social change, offering rare insight into the lives of these amazing peacemakers in the context of the most entrenched, complex, multifaceted, and difficult conflict facing the world today. What Gopin contributes in this book will be most important to the work for peace in the Middle East. This is a book that needs to be read."--Curtiss Paul DeYoung, Professor of Reconciliation Studies, Bethel University
"Bridges across an Impossible Divide puts before us what few have accomplished-an entry into the inner personal life and inter-subjective worlds of violent conflict. Through detailed and carefully recorded conversation we have insight into the fluidity of perception, the power of emotion, and the complex process of how people make sense of their lives and relationships, especially with their enemies. Take time to read these conversations slowly. They hold the sacred ground of authentic human struggle seeking ways of remaining true to the depth of loss and pain experienced while crafting relationship with those perceived to have cause it. The bridge rises from resilient spirits refusing to let the damage of violence destroy their own humanity or find it in others."--John Paul Lederach, Professor of International Peace Studies, Kroc Institute, University of Notre Dame