It is always easier to sit in the audience than go on stage and perform. From the comfort of a theatre seat, in the semi darkness, you can remain anonymous and give praise or criticism in equal measures. That is your privilege as a paying customer. And with social media being so accessible to all members of society your voice and opinion can be heard if you wish it so.
For the performer it is a completely different matter. As soon as they unmask their character they are in fact baring their soul for all to see. While the viewer might enjoy the build up to a live performance the player is often beset by nerves, panicked, facing a loss of confidence and wondering why they are actually putting themselves through all this misery. And a couple of hours later when the performance has ended all the doubts are forgotten as the adrenalin rush takes over. The fears have been conquered.
With that little intro it brings home the awe I feel for people who put their heads above the parapet so that they can make a public contribution. And of course from that exposed position you can be shot at so the analogy goes.
This week I am permitted to announce the four study leaders who will be at the forefront of the Holy Places project for the next two years. With the Holy Places such an emotive issue and the broader Israeli/Palestinian conflict so consumed with anger, bitterness, fear, along with political posturing splashed with toxic communication through the media, it is wonderful to see some high profile people from opposing positions willing to sit down together and try to progress this very important work. They are the leading Actors.
The four leaders will be supported by an Advisory Board and a Scientific Committee that will bring specialist expertise, local & International connectivity and a deep understanding and insight into the challenge of progressing solutions.
That this study is actually going ahead at all is down to the tenacity of Enrico Molinaro who has dedicated his life’s work to the Israeli Palestinian conflict and has overcome many obstacles, as well as making many personal sacrifices, all in the pursuit of helping to progress peace.
The four leaders of the study are highly respected both locally and internationally for their long-term resolve, expertise and commitment to finding solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Their work has a common thread of continuing dialogue between the two communities in conflict, support for conflict-resolution initiatives, and a practical approach to problem-solving local issues.
Yitzhak Reiter is a professor of Middle East, Israel and Islamic Studies. He chairs the Department of Land-of- Israel Studies and is Head of Research Authority at Ashkelon Academic College and is a senior researcher at both the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies and the Harry S. Truman Institute for Peace Research of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Professor Reiter was a visiting scholar in a number of universities in the world. Between 1978-1987 Reiter served as deputy advisor on Arab Affairs for three Israeli Prime Ministers. Professor Reiter is an expert on conflict resolution in Holy Places, the Arab minority in Israel, Middle East and Israel politics and Islamic law. He is active in Jewish-Arab dialogue and tracks two discussions between Israelis and Palestinians.
Walid Salem is a lecturer on democracy, human rights and conflict resolution at Al Quds University-Palestine, PHD candidate in International relations at Near East University in Northern Cyprus, director of the Center for Democracy and Community Development in East Jerusalem and an author of numerous books and research papers on democracy, civil society, peace building, citizenship, refugee issues and Jerusalem. He has trained more than 35,000 people on democracy, strategic planning and other issues. He is a member of the PLO Palestinian National Council.
Abdullah Swalha is the founder and director of The Center for Israel studies –Jordan (CIS) since 2014. He is also the Secretary of the Jordanian Political Science Association (JPSA) and a prominent member of the Jordanian Transparency Center (JTC). Dr. Swalha has a Ph.D. in Comparative Politics from Cairo University. His research has focused on Israeli affairs; religion and democracy in Israel, Israeli decision-making processes, the Israel & Palestinians political process, comparative political science, democratisation, democratic transition, Religion and state, religion and democracy. He also has an M.A in International Relations from the University of Jordan. Previously, Dr. Swalha served at the Government Spokesman Office, and he also lectured in the Political Science department at the University of Jordan.
Enrico Molinaro holds a Ph.D. in International Law and International Relations from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is the executive director of the Italian Network for the Euro Mediterranean Dialogue (RIDE) within the framework of the Anna Lindh Foundation since 2015. He is the founder & chairman of the non-profit research centre Mediterranean Perspectives and of the Jerusalem Holy Places Center (JHPC). Enrico has organised international conferences and led second track negotiations with the participation of Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian academic, diplomatic, religious and political authorities since 2006. He is a writer on the topics of: status quo in Jerusalem; “sovereignty” in terms of title, independence and jurisdiction in international law; models of collective identity in Europe, the Mediterranean, the Middle East and the BRICSorganisation. Enrico lectures at different university courses through English, French, Spanish, Hebrew and Italian in the Euro-Mediterranean area.