Ilanit Gillad and Hagit Shaked-Gvili
The Weinstein International Foundation appointed 140 fellows from 75 countries, selected out of a large pool of applicants from around the world. The fellows came to the United States to study mediation, and various mediation techniques. They shadowed under some of the best mediators in the United States and examined all of our “bad habits.” Subsequently, the fellows returned to their various countries and initiated projects, went back to their court system, their work in public agencies, their police departments, their law firms - and began the process of disseminating mediation theory and practice in their countries.
The growth of the field of mediation over the past decade and the rise of these mediation pioneers, who come from different professions, ages, and fields and share a common commitment to conflict resolution (and, particularly, the use of mediation as a tool to achieve conflict resolution) - is remarkable!
Hagit and I met Judge Daniel Weinstein early in the morning, speaking from his home in Mexico. Mexico has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, but Weinstein reassured us that he and his wife Linda are safe in a small village nestled in the Sea of Cortez. "This is Mexico's answer to the Mediterranean" he says and smiles. Weinstein, a skilled mediator, makes clear that there are no restrictive rules for our conversation: “You can ask everything, change topics, skip or stop. ”He smiles: "Not that I need to tell this to an Israeli, but feel free to not be polite and interrupt me and cut into my words." For my part, I enlisted my best behavior for the interview.
Can you give us an example that you feel particularly exemplifies the growth and development of the mediation field?
One example is the development of regional efforts by fellows from various areas of the world. They are banding together to take on regional issues and to examine how their combined efforts and their own synergy can lead to successful efforts in cases where traditional diplomacy, litigation or even politics have failed. We are at the early pioneer stages in many of the regions of the world and we are exploring that.
There's always that tension, between broad wonderful ideas and getting it done step by step, to make it happen. Our talented newer people, the Hagits, the Tubas, and the Sharifs understand this tension between inclusiveness, while working to accomplish specific goals.
OK, amazing. I'm extremely excited and looking forward to hearing more about the Conference. I am guessing that since you will be in the region, you will be planning to come to Israel to visit?
Absolutely! And I will go wherever the conference is, to be there and be witness to what they will be trying to accomplish.
It's important to understand, Ilanit, that this is happening as we come out of the pandemic, and at a time when there is a great deal of tension in the Middle East. But good things have also happened. The conference comes at a time that mediation is really picking up steam around the world, especially over the last decade. When we started out, we used to have to spend hours explaining what this phenomenon of mediation is, and what it is not. Today, all of the young lawyers, the new judges, the hospital administrators and the police departments, understand that mediation is becoming part of their “gestalt” of dealing with conflict. And conflict exists everywhere - from the family, all the way up to big institutions.
To some degree, these young pioneers in the Middle East, the fellows, are riding a wave that they’re surfing, even in the desert. The work has started in a well guided way. It needs to be in tune with the particular cultures. It needs to be inclusive, and it must bring in different institutions, agencies, and dynamics, to make it work and get people to overcome their fears and their protectionism. There’s a great deal of work to do and many challenges, but we've got that wave and that didn't exist 15 or 20 years ago when we started. At the beginning, we were butting our heads against a lot of walls. These pioneers don’t have to do that now. Today, people understand that it is time to either get on board, or wander around like a dinosaur. Within ten years from now, the professionals in this field of mediation will be doing things with this new technology that will be truly remarkable.
We want to ask you about the technology. What do you see happening over the next decade regarding ODR?
We are going to have robots in the room who will mediate, and there won’t be people like me. As my friends say, there will be a “BS” detector that will light up on the wall and flash red.
As we know, we have undergone a great deal of pain during the pandemic and enormous loses and suffering. Yet the pandemic has forced us to use technology in dispute resolution in ways we haven’t done before. While there were some disadvantages to people being separated from one another, being limited to seeing one another on a screen only, where you hungered for the laying on of hands, and you hungered just to be around other people – still, there were enormous advantages, such as convenience and inclusiveness. I did mediations in community centers in small towns and everyone could participate on Zoom. They couldn’t travel to New York for mediation, but they could be on Zoom. You could do a domestic dispute where the mother-in-law, who controls everything, is too old to travel, but can be on Zoom and tell everybody what to do.I had one case with a city council on Zoom and the police commission on Zoom, in a different location, mediating together. The possibilities that technology can offer are mind blowing. People like Hagit and others, who are the pioneers in this field, and the new stars in the Middle East, are going to distill the best out of this new technology, hopefully discarding what is not helpful.Ten years from now, we will be doing things in dispute resolution that we never imagined possible. Young people are entering this field from all over the world. We have classes every day where you pop on and there are 200 students, from Iran and Mongolia and Paraguay etc. They are all together in the Zoom class, studying dispute resolution. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
OK, so we have discussed Zoom and the fact that we are reaching everywhere and everybody. What do you think about ODR? The idea of using the application or technique, where it's a robot, rather than a person, who deals with people. In China and other places they already use similar technology. What do you like to say about that?
I think the very essence of mediation depends so much on humanity, that it can’t be formulated. All those practitioners who claim that they have a formula which will yield a certain result - Hogwash! It’s what we call different strokes for different folks. You need to develop a dispute with certain common rules of dignity, making it a safe place for people to participate, listening to people so they feel heard. Other than that, the possibilities are limitless and technology is just one of the tools.
Technology will never replace good mediators or people like Hagit, who can listen and make the magic happen, bringing about resolution through the work of people in the room. Technology can be our friend and aide. But it's not going to take over. We need to resist those people who want to allow it to take over. Solving a case is not a math formula. It's hard, gritty, frustrating work that sometimes ends in disappointment. Technology or various tools will never reduce human conflict to a simple, pre-packaged resolution. That defies the very nature of mediation. Furthermore, there is a tension between developing the best techniques, and the best technology and making it available to more people, which is a common problem throughout the world.
We've done a good job in places, developing mechanisms for commercial mediation and commercial disputes to be mediated. India may be the only country I know that is making a real inroad to providing access to mediation to people who don't have means and have generally been blocked out of speedy conflict resolution. In India, they have been making the effort to incorporate community mediation because they realize that it can solve all sorts of community tensions, and relieve the burden on the court system dramatically. That's a challenge to people in the Middle East and all around the world. So while we have now got the “wave,” we still have a lot of work to do.
I’m relieved to hear your answer because I just heard somebody say that researchers believe that increasingly, people have more trust in computers than they do in human beings. This made me feel quite frightened of where we are heading. I’m relieved that you don’t share this train of thought, and that you believe that technology is an amazing tool, but not a substitute to replace us mediators.
That will be a battle in dispute resolution in many fields of endeavor – the challenge of using science and knowledge to help us, but not to replace the human touch and the human element. The tension has helped give birth to the greatest mediators, who have developed their consciousness enough that they can read the air, but that they are able to look beyond the surface and say: “There's something else going on here, I'm not sure I get it all, but I have to make room for that.” That is what makes people who want a formula very uncomfortable. My hope is that the struggle between the two outlooks will work its way out into a harmony and balance that will allow us to have the best of both worlds. But there will be tension in our world between formula and technology, and human empathy, consciousness and development. It'll work its way out, but it's going to be a struggle.
I want to take you back to the past for a moment, and ask you: When was the pivot point for you, when you made the transition from a judge to a mediator?
I was a judge for about 15 years in district court. I liked my job especially when I was running the court, as a supervising judge at the juvenile court, which was the highlight of my judicial career. Yet I was very frustrated by the delays, and the waste of time in the trial courts. I was unsettled by the great many people who suffered from the delay and the cost of it. So I was very attracted to the idea of a faster, better, more economical way to settle many disputes.
Time after time, cases that was already three or four years old, would come to me, and in a couple of hours we could get it settled! Why didn't that happen three years ago? These people had suffered and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on lawyers and everything else. Why wasn’t it settled years before? Back then, there wasn't a mechanism for it, really. So three of us judges, who were a little crazy, left our jobs and we went out and started jams. We didn't know whether mediation would be commercially successful. There was the typical resistance from the lawyers because they saw it as a threat to their role. This was in in 1987-88, about 33 years ago. The conditions were very good because the courts were overloaded, and there was a huge cost to carrying these cases on forever and ever.
Strangely, we received a lot of support from the insurance industry, because it was paying the cost of keeping all of this litigation going forever and ever, and they wanted speedier solutions. We also received support from the general counsel of companies who saw that keeping these conflicts going on so slowly was hurting their business. It took us about 25 years, plenty of trial and error, assembling together panelists and learning from our mistakes and overcoming the resistance of some of the lawyers who would say “this case isn't ready” or “this case is too complicated for you”, and would say “I like mediation, but I need to take five depositions first, then it will be ready… ”These lawyers had a particular stance. They would sit there with their arms folded and ask, “Why are you coming after my cases? These are my cases!” And there were judges who felt that way too, that we were taking away their livelihood. But slowly, because mediation sells itself, we converted the legislatures and the law firms. Lawyers began to see that they could be rewarded for obtaining a speedy, practical cost efficient deal for their client, and they were doing something really good, and judges began to see the benefit of it.
It took a long time, but today in the United States, 90% of the civil cases are mediated.
Today, there's hardly a civil case that isn't mediated before you can have a trial. That's true now also in many countries around the world. For example, there is a wonderful women who is a minister of justice, who stood up and said “This alternative dispute resolution is litigation. In our country, the first stop is mediation, then you can go to court. The alternative is not mediation; the alternative is litigation.”
Hagit: I was there when she said it – wow.
Yes. So luckily, the situation has changed dramatically, but it was hard work, and it took a while. We began as a private company with a few lawyers on our panel and over time we built up 300 and 400 panelists around the country, and ultimately, around the world. We had to learn who would be successful at this because we made many mistakes in trying to figure who the public would want. If the parties have to go to Judge Smith for their case, they can just say they don’t want to go. If the lawyers and the parties decide to go to Judge Smith, and conclude that they do not like her, they don’t have to continue. It took a long time, and we are still learning, and it’s different in every country. Some of the things that we learn and teach our fellows and others, are adaptable to other cultures. Some places need a different model or approach, but the same principles are involved whether you're in Bhutan or Ecuador or Israel.
It has been a great journey. I always tell the people who come and study mediation with us that the most important thing that we can do for you is to help you avoid the mistakes we made, so you can make your own! It was a tough journey, but we had some remarkable people, and it's been a fantastic movement. Now it's up to the Hagits and the Tubas, and the people around the planet to take this to the various cultures and people. In Israel, you're further along in it than in some other countries. While we have now established the way of mediation, and young lawyers around the world are now all studying it, and police departments have mediation as part of their dispute resolution, and the military and hospitals practice mediation - and even my little granddaughter in kindergarten has a conflict resolution corner, and she says that she is competition for me! - there is still a lot of struggle left and we are not there yet in many countries. During the next 10-15 years, the work will be to implement mediation, get the right laws in the legislature, make it available to people who don't have a lot of money, and learn how to coordinate with the court system and the particular cultural dynamics. Those are all challenges. But what the pandemic has taught us (with the misery and the devastation that it's caused) is that we can't stop the pandemic, we can't stop international conflict, the globalization of businesses, climate change, migration and border issues. All of these issues will affect us all, and conflict and legal issues will arise, and we must develop ways other than war and traditional diplomacy to solve these issues. I don’t know any better place to go than mediators and mediation.
I wish our neighbors would have used mediation rather than firing a rocket from Syria to Dimona. I hope that this period of time, the pandemic, will teach everybody this important lesson. My next question… Please describe a memorable, exciting and impactful mediation during your career.
I’ve done about two hundred mediations a year for 30-something years, so a total of probably 6000 mediations. It's a lot and don't ask me how many of them have settled, because I wouldn't know, but I've had some great experiences that are so euphoric when they settled, from little cases to big cases. That's why people like Hagit and these other pioneers go into this field: It's a great profession and you can earn a living from it, but also because of the “high” that you get when a case settles. There isn’t anything quite like it, when you have people who are geared in the direction of conflict in the dispute - whether it's a small domestic case or a huge financial collapse or environmental disaster - and you bring peace to people, and they walk out shaking hands or hugging at the end and saying “It's over! We can finally move on with our lives.”Other than catching a big trout in the stream, that's the number one high.
As for examples… Well, I had the great honor of mediating a case with Rosa Parks, who was one of the leading great ladies of America, famous in the civil rights movement for refusing to move to the back of the bus. She became a symbol during the time of the civil rights movement. Her image was used commercially in a record album by a very popular musical group and she filed a lawsuit. She was represented by the great Johnnie Cochran and other excellent lawyers. The other side was a big record company and they had First Amendment issues about whether they had the right to use this image commercially, because she was a public figure. There were legitimate legal issues and I got to mediate it with this great woman, whom I revered. This very popular band was one of the top bands in the country, under the aegis of a major record company, and they all had the best lawyers in America. They were all fighting over First Amendment issues, and it had gone up to the Supreme Court and back. One day, I was in the men’s restroom and the band manager was standing next to me. He was a very heavy guy. He looked at me and said “Judge, can I talk to you for a second?” And I said “Sure, anything goes in the restroom”…” And he said, “I don't want to be fighting with Rosa Parks. She is the greatest woman in America and we are being sued by her.” He said “I can't say this myself, but what if we went around and did a concert tour honoring her and the civil rights movement? To teach all of those kids who really don't know what she did for them, and we get rid of this litigation, and we just do this to honor her and teach some of these kids what she did for their lives. But the idea can’t come from me Judge…” So I went back in and I said “You know, I've been thinking…” and I suggested this idea, and Rosa Parks gave me a hug that I will remember all of my life - and the idea really came from the band manager! Many great ideas to resolve things come from people, but here, instead of years of fighting over “Did this violate some one’s commercial rights? Or their First Amendment right?” - It was a simple wonderful compromise that came out of the mix. But obviously not every case ends so well.
I did a case with a big oil company in the Amazon jungle. We did it in Peru, with the indigenous tribe and one of the largest oil companies. The oil company was very enlightened and they sent their very best people down to Peru. We were going to do the mediation in the jungle itself, but someone spared us that because it was three days from Lima to the village in a diesel boat down the Amazon. So luckily, we stayed in Lima, and spent a week in a room with the tribal representatives and the Chiefs. We were not allowed to look the chiefs in the eye because it was considered an act of aggression, and the chiefs stared at the wall. They brought members of their community, an old lady and young children, because the chief spoke not just for himself but for the community and for future generations also. The oil company sent some very enlightened people. They had been sued for harming the tribe’s native lands years ago, and also because when they drew oil out of the ground, the oil company left oil remains. They sent me and they said “Listen, if you all want to resolve this, then not American style (because they had learnt we want punitive damages). We will clean up, provide schools, medical clinics, and transportation boats things for your people and keep your culture intact and set something up, a trust that will last for 10 to 15 years to provide. If you want to fight us American style, we're going to fight you” (because they had some lawyers come in). We spent a week with these very enlightened people. Some shareholders from the oil company said we don't want this on our record, you go down there and do the right thing, or we're going to sell our stock. It was very interesting, and it ended in a wonderful agreement which has lasted to this day. At the end of the week, the chief looked me in the eye and we embraced and I have a wonderful picture of us standing there and doing it, and we were working cross-culturally. The challenge was enormous. We had to translate from their ashwater language to Spanish, and Spanish into English, and then back through three languages. The wonders of mediation worked! So I've had experiences like that. Not every day. I've had some days that are so difficult and gruesome that I pick up the phone at 4:00 o'clock and call my wife and say I wish I were a parking lot attendant! I wish I was running a little convenience store, anything but this, some guy at four o'clock just blew up the whole mediation, and this is the worst job in the world. But most days it's like the cases that I recounted to you.
I wish we could always have positive experiences like that, it's inspiring. It was exciting to hear you describe the moment the chief looked you in the eye. What did you do? Did you think it was by mistake? How did you react?
Well, I didn’t hug him, because I didn’t know if that was appropriate, but we grabbed each other’s arms and we both looked in each other’s eyes, and nodded. It was very powerful and I treasure that picture. He wore a fur hat, beautiful colors, and I said to his assistant that I would love to get a hat like that to bring back to my boys. He laughed and said it takes the feathers of 400 birds to make a hat like that! I said forget it.
I’ll give you another example. I mediated a big oil case recently. It wasn’t really about oil. It was about oil rigs in Louisiana, in the southern part of our country, and the men being sued were all these big stubborn good old boys, and they had been sued for securities fraud or something. The case had gone for about five years before it came to me. It was taking its toll. These guys were tough guys. They sat them down in a conference room for two days and they brought in all this smelly food, but at the end of the second day at 22:00 o'clock at night, I came in and I said “Gentlemen, we have a deal, the other side has settled, we have a deal.” And two of these guys - I'll never forget it, they were just so huge and very overweight- both broke down in tears and they were shaking and one guy came to me and said that for the last five years my wife woke him every night with an elbow saying, “Are we going to lose everything we worked for? Are these people really serious that you committed fraud? You've never cheated anybody in your life.” And he said, “I had to explain to my wife that it was just legal talk.” He said she didn't believe it, she couldn’t sleep. To see their relief from having this over and behind them, the burden taken off, that happens to mediators in big cases, and in a little landlord tenant case, or someone whose wedding dress was ruined by the cleaner and the cleaner has agreed to fix It and she's going to get her wedding dress back - that's the payoff, and this hard work that mediators do, pays off.
Thanks for sharing the story. What tips or advice would you give to a new mediator?
Learn everything you can about yourself and how you impact and affect people. Develop what is your best style to bring about conflict resolution. That requires being open to learn how you affect people, what kind of listener you really are. Do you talk to women the same way you do to men? Are you sensitive regarding gender? Are you conscious of what's going on in the room at different levels, or are you linear, following a formula? Are you only comfortable like a trial lawyer, in a formulaic situation, where you can follow rules? But when you get out into the unknown or when what happens isn’t programed, or your third eye picks up something going on there in the corner - are you uncomfortable with that? This profession is about the commitment to develop yourself as a person and to accept criticism and become the best. We joke about it, but I really think it's true - you can be a great trial lawyer and be a crappy person and it doesn't matter. I think to be a great mediator you have to be trustworthy, you have to be conscious in of what's going on in the world, and increasingly today, you have to develop empathy and be aware of implied bias, and things in you, to be truly effective. That's true also in the commercial world, where the attitude is “come on let's just get to it…” I start half my days that way and I have had guys say to me, “Listen, if I wanted a psychiatrist or a rabbi, I would have brought one. I want a mediator, let's just get them the money.” And I understand when they say, “Let’s just get in there and see if they'll be reasonable, judge.” That means: let’s see whether they agree with me, that is what “being reasonable” means.
It takes a commitment. Even judges who have been on the bench for 20 years, and come to a jam and say “I want to be a mediator,” I respond “Hey gotta go back to school pal, I don't care how great a judge you were.” I say to them, no one has to laugh at your jokes anymore and tell you how funny you are, and you're not Your Honor this or Your Honor that, and your power doesn't come directly from “Yawzeh.” If they don't like you, they're not going come back to you - so get on board. I believe that mediating should be a position that creates humility, an awareness of your limitations as a human being in a good way, and it makes you develop yourself. That's what's so great about the profession. The more conscious you get, the more attune you are to other cultures and other people, the better you are at mediation. The payoff is getting more cases making more money. You will mediate between more people and will be more effective. But it is a lifelong development, it is not something you were born into like being born in Brooklyn or in Tel Aviv. People might say, “I'm a good person and I like the idea of being a mediator.” It is very appealing to people. They think they can sit in the middle, not take a side and dispense wisdom, like King Solomon. Not so fast, it’s more complicated than that.
Basically you are saying that you are developing and learning about yourself in every experience you have.
Correct. And getting the feedback is hard. Judges never get it. I had judges who worked for me and the lawyers would come up to me and say, the judge talks forever, or they don't listen, or the lawyers just don't want to hear his terrible jokes anymore. But the judges never get that. They think that they are wonderful because people have to listen. In mediation, that's also true, but it is crucial to get some real feedback, to find some people say to you - tell me what do you think went well, what could have been different. To be a good mediator one has to master timing, and timing only comes with experience, and trial and error. I'm still doing it, three or four days a week and I'm sure at least on one of those days I missed the timing when I put out a mediator’s proposal, or when I listened to someone too long or I didn't listen to them long enough. You have to let it go. There are enormous judgment calls and you can't be right always. You simply learn to make fewer mistakes with time. At times you have to be tough, it's not a favor to the parties to simply listen to something. Yes, we are there to hear people and their story, but if you allow someone to speak without limits, they will keep speaking till death. They can keep you there for days, they have been waiting so long for someone to listen to their story. So how do you listen, and really listen, but also take into consideration that your time is limited? It takes experience and trial and error.
Can you share with us your special connection to Israel, since you are the son of a rabbi?
Thank you for the question, because it warms me to hear it. My father, the late rabbi Jacob JA Weinstein, was an immigrant from Poland. He came to the United States and became a reform rabbi, but he also was part of the international labor movement. He was very involved with the Histadrout, with Ben Gurion. I called them labor “shtarkers” guys with white shirts and short sleeve and open collars, hairy chests and big smiles on their face. They were tough guys and so were the women. They were wonderful bright eyed strong determined people, and they filled our house. The Histadrout group and the labor Zionism was part of my upbringing. I’m a bit embarrassed to say that I haven't spent enough time in Israel itself. I never was planning to make Aliyah, I practiced my Judaism in the United States as part of the mixture of religion and social beliefs that were part of my father's reformed Judaism, and my beliefs in Judaism, but I have this special connection to Israel brought out of his dream because he was a son of the Holocaust. I don't know that I've been able to pass that on to my children, but to me, my father was always that “shteytal kid,” no matter how famous he became ultimately. He was president of all the rabbis and very involved in civil rights around the world. Yet with all that, he was always remembered as that kid from the shteytal, and he lived with that fear. Frankly, during the last year in America, for the first time, the echoes of my father’s warnings about how things could turn back on us again, and we must always know that Israel is our sanctuary and must never forget that - have begun to ring frighteningly true. This echo is a part of my being and my connection. This year, for the first time, I began to be worried that the forces in this country could turn on us again, and that's concerning. I'm hopeful that with the new administration and the goodwill of a lot of people in this country, of all denominations, our better selves will prevail. But my father’s warning, to always be vigilant and always remember that Israel exists for that purpose is a part of my being.
You spoke about Aliyah and you know it is never too late, you can still do it.
We're bringing all our kids, all our pets and everybody, and we’re coming to Israel in October. I hope that the pandemic and everything in the world will allow us to do that. I have a wonderful trip planned with my grandchildren and my sons, who all wanted to return because the day we spent in Masada together, was one of the highlights of my kids’ childhood. My two sons are now 47 and 50, and they still talk about it and have a wonderful connection, so we will be back!
We're waiting for you!
What new modes of training you are seeing done for promoting ODR? What do you think are the best practice methods? Shadowing coaching, joint senior mediator? What is the most effective? You have been training mediators all over the world. Is there a specific method for a specific culture or is it generic? What do you think?
I've been preaching mediation and teaching mediation and I don't think of myself as a great trainer. There are some people doing it in wonderful programs at Pepperdine where I'm teaching, also at Cardoza and at other schools with excellent programs. But you must be on your guard against trying to make this too formulaic, too academic. The best training is to get into community mediations, volunteer anywhere, learn techniques, and take advantage of every opportunity that people give you. I don't know any perfect way to teach it. I will tell you honestly, I have turned over the training of mediators to a number of enormously talented trainers, people that I know, like Bruce Edwards whose academy and the information that he's made available to people is amazing. I have spent the last 2-3 years, and I intend to spend whatever time I have left, teaching, training lawyers to be mediation advocates. I think we have a fairly good number of mediators developing and training. What we don't have around the world are lawyers who know what the fine art of being a mediation advocate is, an advocate or a lawyer who is aware that it's a different art form, a different skill than just being a litigator. Our challenge is to change their mindset and then teach them what makes a good mediation advocate. I have been devoting my time and effort for the last 4-5 years working around the world for that. The change is beginning to happen, especially when we teach these classes now to lawyers - not just young lawyers, also midcareer lawyers, and veteran lawyers - who are coming back and saying: “Hey, I have got to learn this stuff, this is a different skill set. I've never had to listen to anybody, I've never really had to care about him. In court, all I want to do is convince the judge or the jury of my cause. Now I have to interact with these people, I have to communicate in a different way!” I apologize not having an answer for you. I’m sorry I can’t say, “Go to this school or take this course.” In some cases I tell people to go to Cardoza or Pepperdine, or one of the good programs, and at least take a week where you immerse yourself in this and get some feedback on your style - and you shouldn’t think that's universal. I also tell them to beware of people who are trying to package this as a quick learning program: “take this course” and now you're certified, and can declare “I am a mediator.” They're going to try to turn this into something like going to veterinary school, and you can hang up your diploma. I hope we won’t go to yelp after every mediation to check on your score, ”I gave her one star or two stars”, “she spent more time in their room than she did in my room therefore I don't think she's very good don't go back to her.” You can’t be like this, always looking over your shoulder. You never stop learning and training, but also don’t second guess yourself after every mediation! No, I'm not a very good trainer of mediators anymore.
We have concluded all the questions we wanted to ask. Is there a message you would like to send to the mediator community in Israel?
Well, I think being a mediator in Israel may be extra hard, but you're dealing with a country where arguing is the national sport! Where the intelligence factor sometimes is a barrier to compromise and resolution. You also come from a country where there are many different cultures and religious values all mixed in. It's a very challenging world, to be a mediator in Israel, and my best advice is to experiment with different ways to do it. I know some of the wonderful mediators there, Hagit, Amos Gabrieli and others who have different styles, and they are effective and people feel comfortable with them. I have people who are panelists at jams whose styles are different than mine, and they have a huge following of people who would much prefer them over me. They like someone judicious and studious, and there are other people who feel more comfortable with a more human approach, more humor a more dynamic way. They like that style, it's warm, but you can't box it or mass produce it. One thing that they all have in common is that they all listen, they all have a certain amount of empathy, they can be both endlessly patient but firm and determinative. They all have a way to push for a solution and bring it about. In Israel you have some extra challenges, but you also have a lot of biblical precedent to count on.
Ilanit: I appreciate all the time you have shared with us. It was a great, great honor to meet you, and I hope we will see you soon in October in Israel.
Adv. Amos Gabrieli: One of Israel’s leading legal mediators and arbitrators. Recipient of the 2013 fellowship from the JAMS Foundation, the American association of mediators and arbitrators, and a Senior Fellow in the Weinstein JAMS International Fellowship Program: