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New Players In Middle East Peace Process

New Players In Middle East Peace ProcessChristians May Play Key Role In Middle East Peace, Says Tufts Expert.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [02.20.01] Christians could play a crucial role in the Middle East peace negotiations, a Tufts expert in conflict resolution told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Before becoming "honest go-betweeners" in the region's tense negotiations, Tufts' Rabbi Marc Gopin told the newspaper that Christians need to refrain from taking sides.

Many Christian groups "have a tendency to look at the Palestinians as the underdogs and to demonize the Israelis," the Fletcher School expert told the Inquirer, calling the practice "short-sighted."

The key to the Christian role, he said, will be to build bridges between the differing camps in the Middle East.

"Though the Palestinians see themselves as playing David to Israel's Goliath, he said, the Israelis see the exact opposite because they sit on a small parcel of land, hemmed in by the sea, surrounded by hostile Arab and Muslim states," the Inquirer reported.

Peace in the region, Gopin said, depends on confidence and compromise between Muslims and Jews. Christians, he told the newspaper, may be able to put the foundation for peace in place.

"Holy sites are only doable when you have strong bonds between people. I think what Gandhi was trying to say, and what made him such a genius [was] that the only effective kind of criticism is loving criticism, with respect and compassion," he said.

"And it's that kind of linchpin that we don't have yet."

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