A Wholistic Approach to Resolving The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

His Holiness The Dalai Lama, 1989 Nobel Peace Prize

Gary Alan Spanovich, Executive Director, Wholistic Peace Institute



The Wholistic Peace Institute was formed in 1999 to explore the wisdom of the world’s Nobel Peace Laureates.  They are today’s living Gandhi’s and when brought together in multiple numbers and asked their opinion on how to bring peace to the world’s most troubled and dangerous areas, the Institute feels new approaches can be found.


The Dalai Lama, 1989 Nobel Peace Prize Winner’s Views On The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

“I have visited Israel on three occasions and each time was encouraged to see the efforts being made both by Israelis and Palestinians to reach genuine peace and understanding between their two peoples.  It has always been my belief that if we adopt the right approach and make a determined effort, even in circumstances where great hostility has come about over time, trusts and understanding can be restored.  This is the approach I have adopted with regard to the Chinese authorities concerning the issue of Tibet.”


A Wholistic Approach To Resolving The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

The Middle East is in many ways the world’s most dangerous area of conflict, for it is here that a nuclear exchange could start.  It should be the world’s number one priority for solving the conflicts that exist there.  If the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict can be solved, then the roots of the violence in the Middle East will be addressed; for bringing peace to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be the first “peace domino” to fall.  Presently there are three major Middle East Peace Plans that have been proposed for this conflict:

  • The Road Map To Peace: This is the Political Approach

  • The Geneva Accord: This is the Grass Roots Approach

  • The Alexandra Declaration: This is the Religious Approach Led By Religious Leaders


The Wholistic Peace Institute has been working with His Holiness the Dalai Lama on world peace issues since 2001 when he first visited Portland, Oregon and we engaged with him and 5 other Nobel Peace Laureates on how to achieve world peace. The Nobel Peace Prize winners were: Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Betty Williams, Lech Walesa, Dr. Robert Musil (Physicians for Social Resp.); Dr. William Schulz (Amnesty).  The Dalai Lama discusses the “right approach” as a key to being successful in the Middle East.  The above three Middle East Peace Plans all represent different approaches and each offers strengths.  The Institute is proposing that all of the approaches and the proponents work together to combine the strengths of each approach, thus minimizing what weaknesses might be inherent in anyone approach.  

We are proposing in this study a new approach, a “wholistic approach”.  This is an approach which favors “wholeness” and a whole solution as the only viable way to achieve peace in the Conflict.  As “human beings” we are bound by four main characteristics: our mental aspects; our physical aspects; our emotional aspects; and our spiritual aspects..

When we as individuals are “in balance” and “whole’ with each of these aspects, then we are in peace.  Likewise, countries to be in peace must also be in “balance” with these four aspects.  With this approach we would have to be effective in four main areas in the conflict: Physical Boundaries; Emotional Healing; The Right Way Of Thinking; and Religious Reconciliation.


Physical Boundaries

There must be physical changes to the borders of both countries so that two intact and self-functioning and self-governing countries can sustain and maintain themselves.  There must be two whole countries, with defensible borders to keep the criminal elements out and at bay. Only two whole countries can live in peace together.  We suggest that the following countries participate in monthly talks until a clear set of boundaries can be identified for both countries: Israel, Palestine, the United States, Russia, Egypt, Italy, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and England.  We suggest that all of the signatories of the Road Map To Peace focus on this issue almost exclusively.


Emotional Healing

A process must be put in place to heal the emotional trauma, cycles of revenge and hatred that have plagued these two countries for over 50 years.  Unless a process can be found, for both countries and institutionalized, especially in the school systems, the underlying hate will sabotage the best peace plans.  We suggest the proponents of the Geneva Accord come together monthly to define a national healing process and that they work in coordination with the religious leaders who authored the Alexandra Declaration.


The Right Way Of Thinking

It is clear that the wrong way of thinking has been going on for fifty years; otherwise there would have been peace long ago.  The Dalai Lama has written that the western mind does not realize the effect of hate and anger on the body. He has compared these two to the same effect of blood poisoning in the body, which western medical science has adequately documented.  The Key to the “right way of thinking” revolves around being able to undertake processes which will address the sense of hate, anger and injustice that exists in both populations.  New ways of thinking must be found to think about each other, as the “neighbor” as the “brother and the sister”, rather than the enemy.  We suggest the proponents of the Geneva Accord come together in Alexandra, Egypt, monthly until a set of instruction manuals on how to properly see the other side can be worked out and published.  Both citizens and former government leaders of both Israel and Palestine are the proponents of the Geneva Accord, so the responsibility should fall on them to define this aspect of the “Wholistic Solution To Peace”.


Religious Reconciliation

One of the primary issues that defeated former President Barak and President Yassar Arafat at the Clinton Peace Talks in the 1990’s was the inability to not be able to agree on how Jerusalem would be governed.  Jerusalem is of course the seat of the world’s three faiths of Abraham: Judaism; Christianity; and Islam.  Jerusalem is a “world city” one which belongs to all of humanity and not to anyone country, much as the United Nations in New York City functions.  In order to accomplish this, a way must be found to bring into the diplomatic peace-seeking process, compassion, reconciliation and forgiveness for a “whole” solution can only emerge with these “human principles” in play.  We suggest the religious leaders of the Alexandra Declaration come together monthly until a “national process” can be recommended to reduce the hate within both populations and increase the compassion.  The Wholistic Peace Institute has held a number of forums’s on how religious reconciliation can be accomplished in this Conflict and proposes that Rabbi Joshua Stampfer of Portland, Oregon work directly with the religious leaders on this issue.  We suggest the Vatican also play a major role in this discourse and that the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace and the Pontifical Council of Inter-Religious Dialogue jointly host monthly meetings at the Vatican for this reconciliation.


Personal Testimonies From Isreal and Palestine



Two Brothers’ Testimonies

1. Israeli: 

Thank you for coming to meet us.  I am 54 years old, a graphic designer, an Israeli Jew.  Started and Ended.  yonkipo special day 33 years ago.  I was 21 years old, war Then I wanted to detach from this world.  Finish my school, got married; 33 years ago, my daughter was born.  We live, but detached from the world.  9 years ago, the family bubble was broke. 14 years old-daughter was killed by a suicidal bomber.  She was 14 years old.  You would never forget in your life.  Thousands and thousands of people come to cerebrate and be grateful to god during the Jews holiday.  What are you going to do with soulful feeling.  Do the same thing to others, revenge?  What really happen?  What can cause a person to blow himself to kill others?  It took almost a year to get clear myself.  After a year, I met a big guy with fita (thing on his head) “my son was kidnap and killed;” he established group who the family with lost ones.  I was detached, cynical. The person I met was the first Israeli who can stand to make change in the world.  He was the one who lost two sons, and was peace worrier.  First time in life I saw Arab reaching his arm to my arm.  I am not so religious person.  But that time on I determined to go around places to talk about what’s really the importance.  Together, to listen, to show mercy, to talk one another, my Arab friend is truly my brother, we go around and talk to people.  Our blood is exactly the same color. Our pain is exactly the same pain.  Our tear is biter.  


2. Palestinian:  

I know where he (my Israeli brother) is coming from.  People meet politicians and government officials, and  they lose hope.  So we tell schools and communities about peace.  I am a 26 year-old Arab. I grow up in a city 6 kilometer from here.  I saw people dying, getting shot. It’s like passing by some car accidents causing death.  When I was 9, my brother was taken from our home; my brother was 18 year old. He suspected for throwing rocks to Israeli car.  He got beaten in prison, he had to falsely confess that he did it in order to stop their torture.  At the age of 19 he passed away….because of too much torture.  I thought, I needed somebody to kill my brother.  No choice, but to think this way.  This thinking is normal, how our human mind works naturally.  In high school, got involve in politics. Calling for revenge.  Wrote 3 articles a week in high school.  However, I felt empty during the work of revenge.  I hadn’t spoken a word to Hebrew.  But I needed to learn the language unwillingly in order to be educated.  To be succeed.  All Hebrew students.  I didn’t want to talk to them, they were my enemies.  However, they were nice.  They were not the same????  Actually….they were the same.  Some kind of huge wall started breaking down.  Almost all Israeli coffee taste so bad! I love Arabic coffee, there are some difference; but many things are the same.  “WE HAVE A CHOISE.” What is the way to resolve this conflict?  Either to continue this conflict or to work together building one community through education (in schools). If you were to ask Israelis students “how many of Arabs have you seen?” their answers would be 2 or 3.  Radio station connects Israelis and Palestinians; over 1 million people call the station, us.   


Over 5000 people died in last 6 years.  

Media: How can you give your blood to your enemies?  “It’s much better to give blood to those who desperately needed than to just spill it for no meaning of killing.”

14 years old, 11 years old two kids, listen the pain of others you can talk about you own pains.

Both of their family members support what we do. “They are even more active than us.” 



We the presenters at the 2009 Summer Peace Institute on “New Ideas to Resolve the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”


Organized by the Wholistic Peace Institute-Nobel Peace Laureate Program & hosted by Concordia University on September 9 & 10, 2009


Hereby issue this joint statement on “new ideas to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict:


  • Commit to present these ideas to a group of Nobel Peace Laureates in Jerusalem in 2010 in a conference to be organized by the Wholistic Peace Institute to be known as the Jerusalem Nobel Peace Laureate Conference;

  • Exploring to overcome our fears and divisions through respecting our common humanity;

  • Sharing our common experiences and narratives to build hope and understanding among the all our peoples;

  • We encourage economic development projects including joint ventures; 

  • We commit to acknowledge the pain, suffering and the collective historical narratives related to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict;

  • Further exploration of the “one state” and the “two state” solution and their pros and cons;

  • There was a consensus among all presenters that we must take a next step and all the presenters agreed to serve on the Jerusalem Nobel Peace Laureate Planning Committee to convene a Conference in Jerusalem in fall, 2010.

  • All people deserve freedom, security, equity and justice.

  • We are not bringing a solution to the Middle East for we feel the Nobel Peace Laureates, our “living Gandhi’s will produce a Nobel Peace Action Plan and will use papers presented and attached as a starting point of their Noble Peace Action Plan.



Aziz Abu Sarah

Lee Gordon

Rabbi Joshua Stampfer

Rev. Rodney Page

Frank Afranji

Hala Gores

Zaha Hassan

Jim Sitzman

John Dickson

Bob Wise

Fr David Burrell

Rev. Constance Hammond

Dr. Yung Nam

Gary Alan Spanovich

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