Bethlehem leader to address conflict resolution in Heythrop talk

Dr Zoughbi Zoughbi, the Founder and Director of the Wi'am Palestinian Conflict Resolution Center in Bethlehem, will be speaking at Heythrop College, University of London, in Kensington tomorrow (Wednesday, 8 January).

Dr Zoughbi is a prominent Palestinian Christian leader and has spent his life working in the field of conflict resolution in the heart of the Israeli/Palestinian context. The Wi'am Palestinian Conflict Resolution Center began in March 1995. It focuses on helping to resolve disputes within the Palestinian community by complementing the traditional Arab form of mediation, called Sulha, with Western models of conflict resolution. The centre also provides services for women and children and seeks to educate the local community on human equality and basic rights.

'The Israeli-imposed closure of Jerusalem and restrictions on movement in the West Bank and Gaza create enormous hardships in Palestinian society,' says Dr Zoughbi. 'The unemployment rate varies depending on the severity of the closure. With the Israeli confiscation of Palestinian land to build settlements and to construct the Separation Wall, Palestinians have less and less land on which to live and work. People lack the means to meet the basic needs of their families, feeding the cycle of violence on every level of society. As a result, we face a growing demand for the work of conflict resolution, mediation and reconciliation, and training in different fields such as human rights, democracy, negotiation, and cultural dialogue.'

The work of Wi'am (which means 'cordial relationships' in Arabic) is on the ground, with people, as the centre addresses the urgent needs of Palestinians. 'Our work is informed by our personal experiences, as we seek to live with dignity as human beings,' adds Dr Zoughbi.

Dr Zoughbi Zoughbi's talk has been organised by the Centre for Eastern Christianity at Heythrop College, which is celebrating the 400th anniversary of its foundation by the Jesuits this year (www.heythrop.ac.uk/research/centre-for-eastern-christianity.html). For more on the Wi'am Center information see: www.alaslah.org.