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Harvard can play a major role in easing tensions in the Middle East by hosting discussion groups between Israelis and Palestinians, a Harvard professor told a group of about 70 people at the Harvard-Radcliffe Hillel last night.
Cabot Professor of Social Ethics Herbert C. Kelman, who runs a series of such "problem-solving workshops" throughout the year, said the discussions can help eliminate the barriers of fear in both parties. A workshop is a "systematic process of mutual reassurance," he said.
Although both groups fear for the safety of their countries, Israelis and Palestinians display a "sincere desire for dialogue," Kelman said. What continues the conflict, in part, is lack of communication, he said.
"Humanizing the enemy is an important purpose in its own right," Kelman said.
A typical workshop consists of four Israelis and four Palestinians, Kelman said. Participants range from government and Palestinian Liberation Organization officials to journalists, academics, advisors and political analysts, he said.
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