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URI Report

Wallenberg Institute of Ethics Report
to the United Religions Initiative

Blessed are the Peacemakers

Ecclesiastes 9:10 "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might."

The Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Ethics (RWIE) CC affords our members a welcome opportunity to engage in coalition building for the good of our community, and we have embraced this charge with vigor and strength. We are honored to be standing shoulder to shoulder in the company of dedicated social change advocates who are committed to local and national coalition building guided by URI principles. What follows are some of the service-learning projects that we are concurrently engaged in with both youth and adults:

RWIE CC member Miriam Stein was privileged to participate in PEACE JAM last fall where over 3,000 young people from every continent gathered at Loyola Marymount University to engage with seven of the GCA Nobel Peace Prize Laureates working with a generation of young leaders committed to positive change in themselves and their communities. She joined a group of teens that used poetry to demonstrate how poverty impedes peace and was moved by Archbishop Desmond Tutu who remarked, "Nobel Laureates don't fall from the sky -- Nobel Laureates are ordinary human beings like you," he says. "At one time we were as young as you and you have it in you!"

chOver this past year our RWIE CC has adopted a Middle East peace education community outreach program featuring the film "Encounter Point," coupled with its extensively researched well developed adjunct teaching curriculum, both are produced by the non-profit organization Just Vision. Since their introduction in 2007 the Institute has conducted multiple screenings and facilitated discussions using these materials in formal and informal classroom settings with religious congregations, community activists, and civic leaders using non-violence as a methodology for achieving peace and reconciliation aimed at affecting lasting positive social change.

The modeling of nonviolent communication is at the heart of the Salaam Shalom Education Foundation (SSEF), our CC's satellite project in Israel and her territories directed by Shepha Vainstein which provides peace education programs for Jewish and Arab children, so that together they may develop new capacities for problem solving and new potentials for cooperation programs combine a variety of class topics, educational methods, and communication skills training. SSEF's aim is to foster a generation of individuals educated to cultivate new social, cultural, and economic endeavors so that communities of Israelis and Palestinians may learn to thrive together.

sSSEF's Shepha and Shoshanna Wheeler will be facilitating a workshop at the upcoming Pre-Parliament of the World's Religions event being held here in Los Angeles which mirrors the 2009 global event in Melbourne -"Hearing Each Other, Healing the Earth" will offer a unique and dynamic opportunity to address the pressing concerns of humanity from religious and spiritual perspectives that focus on the cultivation of global interconnectedness. URI Global Council Chair, Yoland Trevino is to be the keynote speaker.

These efforts lie at the heart of our planned, "Trauma and Reconciliation" conference coordinated by Dr. Stephen Sideroff who is gathering a team of mental health professionals interested in designing a public forum in which to explore foundational issues of grief and loss to better identify the core challenges that perpetuate the personal and national sense of victimhood and entitlement that serves as an obstacle to effective dialogue between stakeholders in the Middle East region.

In January while in Israel lending support for these programs, Byron DeLear and I were first graciously welcomed by former URI Regional Trustee Elana Rosenman of Jerusalem's Trust-EMUN, and hosted by many kind and dedicated URI bothers and sisters eager to mentor us through the stark realities of the pressing social and religious challenges faced each day by the majority of the Holy Land's richly diverse inhabitants. After a pleasant Shabbat in Jerusalem with Dr. Yehuda Stolov of the and his family, we were stewarded by Eliyahu McLean and Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bukhari into Hebron meeting with GC Trustee Tareq J. al Tamini and Dr. Taleb Al-Harithi. Details of the journey where the work of the URI its members are featured prominently see Byron's blog on mepeace.

Rebecca Tobias and Byron DeLear at URI meeting in Hebron

Rebecca and Byron at URI meeting in Hebron

One of our broadest local/national collaborations is headed by RWIE CC member Roger Eaton who has designed Wallenberg's Group Dialog software that is playing a key role in the Los Angeles Area Nuclear Disarmament Coalition. RWIE CC's Dr. Stephen Krashen is a newly active advocate with this project. The LAANDC strategic plan is to bring world opinion to bear on the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) conference. We think we can ramp up quickly using our innovative "voting-on-messages" software on the web, and the massive majority that exists globally for nuclear disarmament. We will partner with global organizations that already exist. In particular, Mayors for Peace with its 2020 Vision which provides an existing structure that makes rapid action on a global scale possible.

We look forward to going global and electing a message with tens of thousands of participants from all the cities of the earth. The software allows each metro area to have its own "voice" while also electing a message from all participants together to represent humanity as a whole. Please feel free to join the online Nuclear Disarmament Dialog at http://globalassembly.net. This is the spirit of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Ethics CC as reflected in the words of the prophet Isaiah 2:4 "And he shall judge among the nations, they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more".

May G-d's infinite mercy grace you and yours... Respectfully submitted, Rebecca Tobias URI NA Global Trustee

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