Letter disparages transformative, creative work

BRATTLEBORO-In 1991, my husband, Dr. John Ungerleider, took me to Gaza on our honeymoon. We went with an Israeli human rights delegation to take the testimony of Palestinians.

This was the first of many instances when I had a front-row seat to John's life work, devoting himself to bringing together people from conflict zones to learn to trust one another.

Most of this work happened right here in Brattleboro, at the School for International Training, where he founded the Youth Peacebuilding and Leadership Programs, bringing more than 12,000 young leaders for dialogue about the conflicts they inherited, in places including Northern Ireland, Iraq, Cyprus, Uganda, Turkey, and Israel/Palestine.

This letter disparaged John's work, specifically in regard to his work with Israelis and Palestinians, dismissing his unwavering commitment to conflict transformation. The writer states that John's perspective is that this very complicated conflict "would somehow evolve into peace if everyone could just sit in a circle, play guitars, and talk."

Funny enough, John has used the universal language of music countless times to bring people together, and I have witnessed this in my own living room as people who have experienced conflict and trauma joyously sing and dance together.

It has been one of the great privileges of my life to witness the transformative and creative work John has done with other passionate people who believe in positive change. There is no way to measure the impact of his contribution to a more peaceful world.

Elizabeth Ungerleider


This letter to the editor was submitted to The Commons.

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