Dalai Lama may meet Hamas on visit

Tibetan leader: "The time has come to find dialogue through mutual respect."

dalai lama 298 88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
dalai lama 298 88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Even as envoys of the Dalai Lama arrived in China Wednesday to resume talks between the estranged groups, the Dalai Lama was urging dialogue between the Palestinian and Israeli people. "Now the time has come to try and find dialogue through mutual respect," said the Dalai Lama, who spoke with journalists in Jerusalem several hours after arriving in Israel for his third trip to the region. "We must all learn to appreciate each other. We must talk with each other." While his chief recommendation for advancing the peace process was a resumed dialogue, the Dalai Lama hesitated over whether Israel should initiate talks with Hamas. "It is too early to tell… perhaps I must say that we should wait and see," he told the Jerusalem Post. While the Dalai Lama will spend the majority of his five-day visit touring Israel, on Sunday he will meet with Palestinians in Bethlehem. "If some Hamas people were [to] join then I am happy to see them." "I want to take this opportunity, and also [give] my appeal to Hamas, through violent ways it won't solve, it won't achieve what it wants," he said, adding that the group should approach the situation "more realistically." As he expressed optimism over the meeting between his envoys and Chinese government officials, the Dalai Lama smiled warmly at several Chinese journalists present in the audience, and asked their help with several translations. The fourteenth Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, fled Tibet in 1959 following the collapse of the Tibetan resistance movement. In his traditional crimson and gold robes, the Buddhist cleric has become an international icon for the nonviolent resistance movement. He has spent the past decade traveling the world and promoting peace, while sponsoring negotiations with China. In 1989, he received the Nobel Peace Prize. The Dalai Lama said his representative were meeting Chinese officials for a fifth time since 2002, and that Tibet was seeking "meaningful autonomy" and not "separation from China." Regarding reports that the Chinese consul in Tel Aviv sent a letter to Israeli authorities protesting his visit, the Dalai Lama's said that the consul had "acted correctly." "Oh yes, they were very right to send the letter," he said, smiling. "They carry out their mission very loyally... but I think if you meet them in person, they may have a different opinion." The Dalai Lama said that he will not be meeting with Israeli officials, who have avoided seeing him in the past to avoid straining their ties with China. He explained that the purpose of his visit was threefold; the promotion of human value, the pursuit of religious harmony, and the preservation of the Tibetan culture. On the last goal, he reflected on the ability of the Jewish diaspora to retain their cultural heritage. "For one thousand years in exile, Judaism keep itself… maybe, you can teach me this," he said. The audience, however, pushed the Tibetan leader for their own lessons on topics ranging from the Mohammed cartoon, to global Islamic terrorism. The prophet Muhammad should not be blamed for violence he said. "I have Muslim friends and they told me that anyone who calls themselves Muslim while causing blood to be spilled is not Muslim," he said. He urged Israelis not to focus on extremist who engaged in violent tactics. "Political issues could not use the name of religion," he said. He explained that Palestinian and Israeli political leaders should engage in dialogue, but that those talks should not involve "Muslims and Jews." "I am an ignorant person," he said, as he smiled to audience. "Maybe if I spent time, several months, examine situation, I can find better answer."