Middle East Peace Initiative in Jordan
David Fraser Harris, UPF-Middle East Regional Secretary General|
June 22, 2006
Report from the Universal Peace Federation forum in Amman. Jordan on May 2006.
The impact of the Middle East Peace Initiative is increasingly visible. In March, an American delegation of 70 visited Jordan. In May we welcomed 300 Ambassadors for Peace, including large delegations from Korea, Japan, Europe and the United States. In the intervening period, UPF Jordan, in cooperation with the Amman Center for Peace and Development, organized a series of seminars for Ambassadors for Peace, attended by 22, 31, and then 65 delegates. These seminars were designed to inform participants on the history and goals of UPF.
Very late on May 22nd, the international MEPI delegations arrived. On the following morning, we held a symposium at the Meridien Hotel, on the theme "The Role of Jordan: Peace Building and Human Development." We were honored to receive the patronage of His Royal Highness, Prince Ra'ad Ben Zeid, who was represented in his absence by Dr. Ghazi Tayyeb, director of Jordan Aviation. Dr. Tayyeb brought the greetings of HRH Prince Ra'ad. Dr. Tayyeb, a former general, was followed by General Nam Poong Cho, former commander of South Korea's 1st field army. The chairman's address was given by Dr. Chang Shik Yang, chairman of the Middle East Peace Initiative. We were then addressed by two distinguished religious leaders: Archbishop George El Murr of the Melkite Church in Jordan, and Dr. Hamdi Murad. The session was moderated by Mr. Taj Hamad, secretary general of WANGO (the World Association of NGOs), and also included initial greetings from Gen. Mansour Abu Rashid, chairman of the Amman Center for Peace and Development.
Our second session, moderated by David Fraser Harris, included a presentation by Dr. Michael Jenkins, director of the Middle East Peace Initiative, on the history of MEPI and recent activities of UPF. Dr. Jenkins was followed by Ambassador Sam Zachem and General Mansour Abu Rashid. Following the second session the latest version of the Amman Declaration was presented, and we all had the opportunity to sign it.
As the sessions ended, two small delegations were on their way to different destinations. UPF's UN office took a delegation of 15 to visit the Amman office of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees and see one of their schools. Meanwhile, another delegation of 21 drove to the parliament, where we were received by seven-time parliament speaker, H.E. Abdul Hadi Al Majali. Our very cordial and substantial discussions included an explanation by H.E. Al Majali of the history of the region, a presentation by Dr. Jenkins on the work of UPF, and introductions of international delegates, including General Cho from Korea, Prof Hayashi from Tokyo University, a journalist from Il Giorno in Italy, and a member of parliament and former minister from Albania, as well as others from Britain and the USA.
At 2.30 pm, the various delegations gathered again, this time in the Jordanian countryside, at a center for psychiatric rehabilitation established by Mrs. Haifa Bashir. A delicious lunch was served, and UPF delegates made contributions to the ongoing work of the charity. We were honored to be joined by H.E. Sabri Rbeahat, Jordan's Minister for Political Development, who addressed us warmly. Other lunchtime speakers included the wife of the former mayor of Busan, Korea's second-largest city. Korean delegates then presented some of the gifts they had brought for Jordanian children. All enjoyed some traditional songs and dances.
Next on the program was a visit to the brand new King Hussein Mosque, built by King Abdullah II in honor of his late father. His Majesty has appointed Dr. Hamdi Murad as the Friday preacher at this mosque, so we were delighted to hear a brief but very profound explanation of Islam from Dr. Murad inside the mosque. Later, Korean Christian delegates commented that his words had helped them to see Islam in a new light.
While some were visiting the mosque, others had chosen to pay a visit to the Women's Federation for World Peace center in Wadi Seer, one of Amman's poorest areas. This organization was registered in Jordan in 1999, and its representative, Mrs. Fusayo Irikura, has opened and developed a center which offers skills training programs for women and children.
Following these visits, some chose to go downtown to do some shopping in Amman's old center. Others were happy to get back to the hotel in time for dinner and a little relaxation!
UPF developments in Jordan
- November 19, 2005 – Inaugural conference addressed by UPF chairman, Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak.. 700 attend the inaugural banquet. American MEPI delegation of 100 took part in a peace march in protest against the Amman bombings.
- January 7, 2006 – Jordanian and Palestinian Ambassadors for Peace met in Amman. At a panel discussion attended by 90, speakers included Dr. Kwak, Dr. Thomas G. Walsh, Sheikh Taysir Tamimi from Palestine and Dr. Hamdi Murad.
- January 8, 2006 – Dr. Kwak addressed peace ambassadors from several nations in the region, reminding us of the founder's proposal for a Peace Academy to be opened in Jordan.
- March 18, 2006 – MEPI delegation visited Amman. A morning panel discussion with 11 speakers was followed first by a visit to the Golden Age Home, where we participated in a (Mother's Day) charity luncheon, and then by a visit to the King Abdullah mosque.
- April 15, April 22 and May 13 – three seminars were held for peace ambassadors. Each seminar began with a presentation by Dr. Hamdi Murad, who emphasized the interreligious nature of UPF/IIFWP, its non-partisan cooperation with leaders in all fields, and the contribution UPF has made and can make to the region. David Fraser Harris then gave a presentation entitled "UPF: Origins and Aspirations", which outlined the 50 years of history behind UPF before proceeding to focus on the vital role of ambassadors for peace. A lively question and answer session followed.
- May 23rd – MEPI with 300 ambassadors for peace from Korea, Japan, Europe and the USA (reported above).
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