March 18, 2010

Conference will focus on Middle East conflict

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The conflict in the Middle East has been making headlines for decades. So have various attempts at peace negotiations.

An interdisciplinary conference at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will bring together scholars representing different points of view and ethnic traditions to examine the role ethics plays and might play in conflict resolution between the two main groups in the conflict.

The conference, “Higher Roads to Peace: The Role of Ethics in Resolving Conflicts Between Arabs and Jews,” is April 5-6, and includes two full days of discussion with an international roster of top scholars, and a screening of the award-winning documentary film “To Die in Jerusalem,” the work of SIUC alumna Hilla Medalia.

This conference also includes graduate student paper presentations. Opportunities to continue discussion in a more casual, conversational atmosphere are built into the conference schedule. The entire conference is free of charge. The University and area communities are invited and warmly welcome.

Event coordinator Rebecca Farinas, a graduate student in philosophy at SIUC, said the assembly of international scholars is meant to promote the study of peace, to seek possible alternatives to conflict, and to highlight the role of ethics in conflict resolution. A publication of papers and keynote addresses will preserve the experience of this interdisciplinary symposium. As symposium literature states, the conference “will step back from the fray.... It will explore ways in which ethics and mutual understanding might offer a higher road to peace than the clash of propaganda and force of arms.”

A full schedule and complete information about the keynote speakers is available online at Here are some highlights:

April 5

• Keynote speaker Mohammed Abu-Nimer (professor of philosophy at the School of International Service in International Peace and Conflict Resolution -- American University, and director of the Peacebuilding and Development Institute), “Interfaith Dialogue in the Israeli-Palestinian Possibilities and Challenges,” 9:30 a.m., John C. Guyon Auditorium, Morris Library.

• Keynote speaker John Pawlikowski (professor of social ethics at Catholic Theological Union -- University of Chicago), “Doing Inter-religious Dialogue in a Globalized World,” 11:30 a.m., John C. Guyon Auditorium, Morris Library.

• Keynote speaker Brian Klug (senior research fellow at St. Benet’s Hall, Oxford University, also affiliated with University of Southampton and the Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations), “Being Jewish, Doing Justice and the Israelis-Palestinian Conflict,” 2:30 p.m., John C. Guyon Auditorium, Morris Library.

• Conference dinner (kosher and halal selections available), 5 p.m. at the Old Main Restaurant, Student Center

• Film screening, “To Die in Jerusalem,” with keynote address by Hilla Medalia (producer and director, Peabody Award winner), 7 p.m. Student Center Auditorium. Followed by a wine reception on the auditorium terrace.

April 6

• Philosophical discussion with keynote speakers, moderated by Lucian Stone (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville), 9 a.m., DeJarnett American Heritage Conference Room, Morris Library.

• Graduate papers, 1 p.m., Department of Philosophy Seminar Room, Faner Hall, Room 3061.

• Keynote speaker Tomis Kapitan (professor of philosophy at Northern Illinois University), “The Roots of Violence and the Prospects for Peace in the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict,” 4 p.m., John C. Guyon Auditorium, Morris Library.