One cannot remain apathetic to the world’s turbulence and heart wrenching wars. The Foundation treasures the words of its Founder, Ambassador Ghoulem Berrah, a champion of peace, and wishes to share his work and convey his feelings.
Excerpts from A Dream for Peace, an Ambassador’s Memoir by Dr. Ghoulem Berrah.
“President Houphouët-Boigny was a fervent believer in dialogue and discreet mediation, which was for him the only effective means for resolving conflict between human beings and nations—a belief I totally espoused.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict would not be an exception to this rule.
Considering the excruciating pain and suffering inflicted on my people in the aftermath of the Algerian war, a bloody war that had left in its wake countless numbers of martyrs, I made the determination to work for a better world and find an alternative to war. I decided to dedicate my life to public service and work to establish a better understanding among all people through dialogue—for the sake of peace and justice.
At the service of peace toward the painful Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I used all the talents that the Almighty bestowed upon me, including a dogged determination, without holding back any effort.
The president devoted all his strength and energy to secret diplomacy; I was his trusted Emissary….
In those days, the majority of Arabs and Jews viewed all forms of contact between the Palestinians and the Israelis as high treason.
Ultimately, our collective efforts paid off, and the Curiel Group agreed to host the first dialogue between the Israelis and the Palestinians in Paris in absolute secrecy.
The summer of 1976 offered a silver hope and led us down a historic pathway for some constructive discussions between the PLO of Yasser Arafat, led by Dr. Isam Sartawi, and the ICIPP, led by General Matti Peled, at a Paris home provided by a member of the Curiel Group.
President Houphouet-Boigny repeatedly emphasized to anyone who would listen that dialogue was the weapon of strong men. After all these years, that dogma holds true, and I dare anyone to prove otherwise. The willingness to use dialogue requires some self-control and mastery of instincts, as well as the inclination to compromise without sacrificing integrity. Only dialogue can save humanity from the perils of war.
There is no better example than the importance of dialogue between all faiths to enhance communication and foster understanding among all humans. My entire life had pivoted naturally at the intersection of religious harmony among all faiths. My mind traced the roadmap of what seemed to be a common goal in the pursuit of peace. A light bulb illuminated my thought process, and it then occurred to me that the students who had come from all over the world could be taught to live together in a climate of mutual respect, with a deeper understanding of the Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, and Hindu religions….
The day all humans embrace wisdom and learn to love our neighbors as we love ourselves and do unto others as one would do unto oneself—the day we master and control our sordid instincts and restrain ourselves from selfishness and self-centeredness—that will be the day we come full circle. On that fateful day, the generosity, the nobility of the soul, and the meaning of humanity would have reached a pinnacle of excellence and ushered forth the golden rule for a purposeful existence.”
Let’s try to do our part to make the world a better place and continue to pray for peace.