The full transcript of the speech by Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor at the official launch of his peace initiative 'Pathways to Peace' at Brunel Center, Illinois College on Tuesday October 14, 2014.
Bismillah Al Rahman Al Raheem, Assalamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullah Wa Barakatuh (In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Peace Be Upon You), President Jimmy Carter, Former US Congressman, the Honourable Paul Findley, President Barbara Farley, Faculty and students of Illinois College, My Phi Alpha brothers, ladies and gentlemen.
It is wonderful to be back at Illinois College. Illinois College is a very dear place to my heart. And the credit in introducing me to this place goes to my good friend the former US Congressman - the Honourable Paul Findley. Thank you Paul.
I am honoured that President Jimmy Carter has accepted my invitation to visit Illinois College. And I look forward to the launch of the 'Pathways to Peace' initiative with him. Thank you President Carter.
As you all know, President Carter tirelessly calls for a solution to the Palestinian- Israeli conflict. Through my Foundation, the Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor Foundation, I have worked with and supported The Carter Center for several years now and will continue to do so in their efforts towards the Palestinian-Israeli conflict resolution.
I have big hopes that my idea, the idea we are launching today, can help bring about a realistic solution to the problem and in time bring lasting peace. I am a realistic man and I set my goals with a real view. I will not dream and stick to the romantic idea that the Palestinians will return to Palestine, because there are different facts that have made this impossible and we have to live with them.
President Carter and his team have worked very hard to find solutions. Many like him and Paul are loyal to the cause and will not hesitate to do what it takes.
The Palestinian-Israeli struggle is always at the forefront of my thinking. And while exhausting all the current solutions. I thought “why not try a different approach?” The idea of this initiative came to my mind. And after careful consideration, I discussed it with my team and we suggested it to Illinois College. With the assistance of Professor Andrew Findley and the faculty, we have drafted this proposal that we call 'Pathways to Peace'.
Everyone hopes the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is resolved sooner than later, but most probably, it will fall on the shoulders of our children. Their minds and way of thinking is different from ours. And for that reason, they should take part in finding the solution. They should be asked to find scenarios and solutions to the conflict. They understand what their generation thinks and how they need to address this issue.
‘Pathways to Peace’ is a seminar focused on historical examples of different religious, ethnic and cultural conflicts and steps taken to resolve these problems. The examples of methods used to resolves those conflicts can be applied as potential ‘Pathways to Peace’.
The faculty and students involved will travel to Jordan and, if the security situation allows, to Palestine and Israel. They will meet with Palestinian and Israeli students. They will try to understand them and their needs first-hand.
My hope is that they can reach a realistic solution that could help the peace process move forward. I realise that the project might not be successful the first time, but we will try again and again. This is too important an issue for us not to try every possible way to see it happen.
Thank you very much.