Negotiations and communication are functions of world peace and tranquility. Negotiation can be defined as a holistic process through which parties agree or arrive at a consensus through discussions (Cohen, 5). On the other hand, communication refers to the process through which information passes between parties. In other words, in order for negotiations to be effective and achieve a long-term objective, effective communication as a function must exist between individuals. In most cases, negotiations are conducted when there are disagreements or conflicts between different parties. For instance, when the country is at war with another country, leaders representing both sides can sit at a convention and settle their differences through negotiations. Such discussions can also be conducted through intermediaries, who are appointed as peacemakers (Cohen, 100), an illustration of the contexts within which negotiations are conducted. One of the texts within which negotiations and communication are evident is the book ‘Letters from Apartheid Street: A Christian Peacemaker in Occupied Palestine by McRay T. Michael. This book represents the author’s endeavor to be a Christian peacemaker and observer for three months in West Bank, city of Hebron (Experimental Theology). Therefore, this paper will react to, contextualize and analyze the book focusing on negotiations and communication. The use of illustrations will be used to reach a conclusion with respect to the topic of discussion. The book is a tale of how Israel oppresses the Palestinians (Letters from Apartheid Street). Throughout occupational injustices, Israelis subjugate the citizens of Palestine, who are then forced to live in poverty, misery, and suffering under the harsh conditions. The author, as a peacemaker, has a hard task bringing the two parties to a consensus to end destitution and suffering together with his team. Though sometimes he is overcome by anger and grief given the suffering of the Palestinians, he has a hard task trying to balance between the harsh rule of the Israelis and the low demeanor of the Palestinians (Letters from Apartheid Street). Notably, during negotiations, both parties must be brought on a common ground for reaching an agreement. The agreement cannot be reached at when one of the parties is far much ahead of the other. Further, in the case of an intermediary or peacemaker, they should always ensure that there is a balance between the parties conflicting. In other words, a negotiator, or a mediator needs to establish an equilibrium point upon which the parties interact. In this sense, the author seeks the tales from Israelis to ensure that it balances that of Palestinians. The author does this through effective communication processes which involve conversing with soldiers from the Israeli font and other forms of human contacts with both the Palestinians and Israeli soldiers (Letters from Apartheid Street). The author refers to the process of negotiation through effective communication as a sense of humanization. It is one of the best known ways through which conflicting parties can arrive at a consensus. Despite the complexity of the matter, always, avenues can be instituted to establish what each of the parties feel or think as the best way of solving the conflict (Cohen, 35). Notably, the author undertakes his endeavor with the professionalism it requires despite the fact that he is also Christian. Through the process of negotiations, peacemakers or intermediaries should not try to be heroes. Solving the conflict and bringing parties to an agreement is a heroic deed in itself though it should not be conducted valiantly. The author, at some point, tends to act the hero by trying to solve the Israeli-Palestine conflict all by himself. Notably, the problems facing such conflicts are usually large and require correspondingly and equally ‘huge’ measures to counter them (Cohen, 116). The author, playing hero for some time, despairs at some point when he discovers that the challenges are indeed huge for him to counter. The point of heroism should always be done and celebrated after the achievement of peace, tranquility, and harmony between conflicting parties. Further, when the author seems to despair, it can be seen that the extent of oppression also appears to heighten. In essence, during negotiations, despairing should be the last thing that the parties, including the peacemaker should think of. Remarkably, during negotiations, parties should learn to handle the temptations to despair no matter how complicated or hard arriving at an agreement is. In this book, the author fights hard the temptation to despair especially after his dreams of becoming a hero setting the conflict fail after only one month in West Bank. The author fights for a consensus among the Israeli people and the Palestinians by resisting the principalities of power that are posed from the Israeli oppressors (Letters from Apartheid Street). This is one way through which the author resists the temptation to despair. For instance, he regains confidence in his ability to settle the conflict by considering the Palestinians as people who are living a life through resistance. He acknowledges this by stating that when, for instance, Palestinians refuse to lock their shops during particular hours (which Israelis have considered settler-hours), and they resist the temptation to despair from regaining their freedoms and countering the oppression from the Israelis. At this point, it can be noted that negations have different facets according to this book. The author, apart from effective communication and discussion between parties, sees resistance to the principalities of power as a means through which the push for a consensus can be initiated. Further, he sees negations as a holistic process that involves both the conflicting parties, in this case Israeli and Palestine (Experimental Theology). His role as a peacemaker is more defined when he takes the initiative to settle the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in his three-month endeavor at West Bank. In his effort to attain peace and tranquility among the Israeli oppressors and the citizens of Palestine, the author has a hard task trying to ‘love the enemy’. For one, he seems to be with the Palestinians in suffering. The author struggles to ‘sweet-talk’ the oppressors (Letters from Apartheid Street). His journey involves trying to stereotype the soldiers who are, on the other hand, very hostile, violent and sometimes callous. The author categorically states that his primary aim is to re-humanize the soldiers and initiate the humane aspect of them (Experimental Theology). However, for the most part of it, his endeavor sometimes becomes hard given the perilous and tense climate in the city. Despite his ability and capacity to start up effective conversations with the oppressors and sometimes creating time to listen to their tales, it is evident that the process of negotiations for him is a big task. At a glance, the book is clearly an account of how effective negotiations should be conducted by employing effective communication strategies. Further, the text also puts forth the required conduct of parties and peacemakers whenever there is a need to arrive at an agreement. The author’s view of resistance is vital and applies universally on any other negotiation process. In essence, it is significant for the party being oppressed to stand firm and defy any form of principalities of power that may be meant to haunt them. This resistance creates room for the oppressing party to reconsider their stance. More significantly, to achieve peace, the parties should not despair nor lose hope during negotiations. For the long term objective of an agreement to be achieved, individuals should learn to live by resisting life, the author summarizes.
Cohen Raymond. Negotiating Across Cultures: International Communication in an Interdependent World. (Revised Edition). Washington DC: United States Institute of Peace Press. 2007. Print
Letters from Apartheid Street: A Review. August 6, 2013. Kingdom Now: Spirits in Bondage. Web. 29th November, 2014.
Experimental Theology: Letters from Apartheid Street. December 6, 2013. Experimental Theology. Web. 29th November, 2014.