Magazine article UNESCO Courier

The Spirit of Granada

Magazine article UNESCO Courier

The Spirit of Granada

Article excerpt

UNESCO is proud to have organized last December in Granada (Spain), an international symposium at which Israeli, Arab and European intellectuals met to discuss the intellectual aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation process.

Among all the geopolitical, ideological and strategic changes that mark the tumultuous closing years of this century, it is inspiring to see the desire for reconciliation expressed by two parties who have long been embroiled in conflicts so absolute and so deep-rooted that many had given up all hope. At the beginning of the 1980s, anyone who had predicted such developments as the ending of the Cold War, the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa, or Israeli-Palestinian dialogue would have been greeted with derision.

The process that has brought Israelis and Palestinians to the negotiating table is also of enormous, and universal, moral significance.


A tribute is due to the architects of this reconciliation, those responsible for the historic gesture made in Washington in September 1993. Transcending the tragic scenario of resentment and mistrust, they demonstrated courage, reason and vision. They preferred the sweet promise of future innocence, however fragile, to the bitterness of experience. In so doing, and in accepting the risks they were running, they reflected what is most noble in human nature, for, as Aime Cesaire has observed, "man is distinguished by a special propensity to defy destiny and transform it into history."

What they have done is truly a challenge to destiny. The idea of peace, now miraculously illuminating the sky of the Middle East, is very fragile. We must all join in the efforts of the peoples of that region to ensure that peace is strengthened. Political co-operation, economic development and the reduction of military spending are certainly necessary for that. However, I believe that the essential task is to let the idea of peace take root and to consolidate the moral and intellectual solidarity of individuals and peoples.

The ethical, cultural and human aspects of peace are of paramount importance. Without them, no political or economic agreement can be viable. With them, the culture of peace can be firmly grounded in all areas of the life of society; national capacities can be built up and strengthened; knowledge and skills can be mobilized, and the potential of each individual can be developed for the common good. …

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