Thursday, 11 September 2008

Political stability would help spirituality flourish says Swiss diplomat

Only long lasting political stability and economic prosperity will help true spirituality flourish said Jean Daniel Ruch at the opening ceremony of the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum which is taking place in Bern and concentrating on the issue of the “promised land”. Ruch is the ambassador at large for special assignments of the Swiss foreign office.
Quoting St Exupéry who said “on ne craint que ce que l’on ne connaît pas” (we only fear what we do not know) Ruch pointed out that it is more difficult today for Israelis and Arabs to meet than it was 20 years ago. This highlights the role of countries like Switzerland which try to work for human rights, for more stability in the region and also promote dialogue as a key part of that.
In his opening remarks Ruch said that although it was important not to confuse questions of land and religion, it was also the case that religion could be hijacked by politics and vice-versa. He mentioned studies which showed that only 20% of the Israeli settlers in the West Bank gave religious rather than economic reasons for settling the area and added that it was nevertheless the views of these 20% that dominate the political agenda.
Europe has had a long-lasting impact on the Middle East and bears a responsibility for what has happened in the region from the time of the Crusades, through the Balfour agreement and the holocaust. There is a duty to contribute to a solution.