Irvine community members gathered for the Humanity Unites’ dialogue on the current media focus on Iran and the possibility of war on Aug. 28. Humanity Unites is an organization dedicated to spreading peace and rewarding groups that contribute to their goal.
The event opened with a panel represented by different perspectives of the Iranian, Jewish and pro-Israeli community. Community members were then provided the opportunity to submit questions to be answered by the panel, and were later invited to share their opinions and experiences on the subject, focusing on what solutions would be most conducive to peace.
The panel included four distinguished individuals in their fields of study. Panel members were given 15 minutes to discuss their perspective on each issue. Overall, they remained focused on the goal of peace through communication while never straying too far from honestly addressing international conflicts.
Shakeri is the founder and community advisory board member of the Center for Citizen Peace Building at UC Irvine and was a political prisoner recently released from solitary confinement in Evin Prison in Iran.
“The problem with Iran and the United States is not the problem with atomic bombs,” said Ali Shakeri, the first panelist, “The problem is trust.”
Shakeri also discussed dissemination of information as a necessary task, citing surprising statistics; for example, less than 23 percent of college graduates can locate Iran on a map.
“War is not the answer. Resolution only comes with dialogue on the table,” Shakeri said.
Also present was Dr. Kevin O’Grady, Orange County Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League, who monitors extremist groups and speaks at public forums. The third panelist was Dr. Mohammad Sahimi, NIOC Chair in petroleum engineering and materials science at the University of Southern California and author of numerous articles on Iran’s nuclear program
All participants advocated peace through understanding, as the final panelist Liana Foksheneanu said in her concluding statements. Foksheanu is the former director of Business Development for the Merage U.S.-Israel Trade foundation, Economic officer at the Israeli Embassy in Washington D.C. and former Commercial Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv.
“I am a great believer in words … words are communication and communication is peace. It is easy to threaten, but the way to come to a peaceful solution is out-of-the-box thinking. It must be grass roots. It must come from the people,” Foksheneanu said.
Humanity Unites is a non profit, non-partisan and non-political organization, in which its events are the result of the efforts of individual volunteers working under the mission of uniting communities and ending conflict. Part of its outreach program involves awarding student groups that have similar initiatives for inspiring harmony; such as UCI’s Sigma Chi Fraternity for their interactive health education seminar on AIDS related issues and the UCI Darfur Action Committee for their Stand Up for Darfur Rally.
Humanity Unites provides such grants to deserving groups in collaboration with Irvine Prevention Coalition and through the proceeds of their Walk for Unity, an annual event described as a public display of harmony and unity amongst people from all walks of life. This year’s Walk for Unity will take place on Oct. 4.