Dr. Stephen P. Cohen is a National Scholar of the Israel Policy Forum. In 2003, Cohen was named to the Advisory Group on Public Diplomacy for the Arab and Muslim World by the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.
In 1971, Cohen, along with colleague Herbert Kelman, developed the first seminar in social psychology oriented to solving the Arab-Israeli conflict. Representing a fresh approach to international relations, the work spawned much of his later work.
Lady Davis Fellow and Visiting Professor at the Hebrew University in Egypt, Cohen has led strong efforts to educate people on the opportunities for peace with Israel. He has served as an important connection in bringing about vital discussions between Middle Eastern leaders, including setting up the first meetings between Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Abba Eban with the leaders of the Egyptian National Democratic Party. During these talks, Cohen was encouraged by several notable leaders to create an American-based institution for a venue of confidential Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab peace efforts, the Institute for Middle East Peace and Development.
Cohen is a prominent scholar and promoter on theories of unofficial diplomacy, known as Track Two Diplomacy. Since 1975, he has led several efforts to bridge Arab and Israeli populations. In 1979, Cohen founded the Institute for Middle East Peace and Development, an organization meant to serve as a facilitator for diplomatic peace and cooperation discussions. He has served as the group’s President ever since.
In his 2002 publication, Foundations for a Future Peace, Cohen lays out 10 steps necessary for peacemaking in the Israeli-Arab relationship. The first recommendation stresses the importance of cultural and social reconciliation. While political negotiations are important, it is imperative to combat the brewing hatred and distrust in the public atmosphere. Cohen makes another crucial finding, explaining that most important is the opinion of the public mass. Leadership must be supported by the “street,�? including all classes of people. This is the only way to “replace a discredited pan-Arab nationalism with a convincing, effective state sytem.�?
Publications, Commentray, & Appearances
- Beyond America's Grasp: A Century of Failed Diplomacy in the Middle East by Stephen P. Cohen. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux 2009.
- Foundations for a Future Peace – Stephen Cohen. IPF 2002.
- A Not So Odd Mid-East Couple by Stephen Cohen. New York Times.
PbWinter 12:02, 19 Jun 2006 (PDT)