The Catholic University of America

 

Professor Shimon Shetreet 

The Elusive Goal of Peace

The prescription for intercultural and international peace is not terribly complicated, according to one leading academic. But following the prescription is another matter altogether.

Shimon Shetreet, a professor of law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, offered a sensible formula for peace in remarks titled "The Challenge of Creating a Culture of Peace in a World of Diversity and Conflict," offered at the Columbus School of Law on Sept. 9 under the sponsorship of the Middle East Religious Dialogue Program.

According to Shetreet, there are four basic building blocks for peace. They include fair political arrangements, economic justice-the absence of vast disparities in wealth within a society, cultural peace based on an understanding of shared values, and religious peace.

Shetreet, a former member of the Knesset and the president of the Israeli Chapter of the International Association of Constitutional Law, observed that many societies get part of the prescription right, but no society has successfully adopted all of the building blocks.

In America, for example, he argued that the economic part of the peace model has broken down. The specter of large bonuses still being paid out to corporate chieftains whose mismanagement cost hundreds of thousands of lost jobs has understandably infuriated citizens and alienated them from a sense of shared national destiny.

The dozens of nations that make up the European Union struggle with different issues, noted Shetreet, especially those of cultural and religious peace. The adamantly secular French, for example, have refused to allow Muslim women in their society to wear headscarves in schools and other places, considering the clothing an unacceptable religious symbol.