Jerusalem, reporter Lauren Gelfond's (LGelfond@zahav.net.il) headline was:
"Israeli and Palestinian teens succeeded where their leaders have
Before that March, 2003 "Model UN'" conference, Ramzi Sfeir, a 17-year-old from the Palestinian village of Bet Jalla, "never
believed that Palestinians and Israelis could agree on anything" but conclude "I learned that you can talk without fighting."
Arabic-speaking students from Israeli and Palestinian villages joined up with Jewish Israelis and foreign nationals -- 250 students representing 16 Israeli, Palestinian and international high schools.
"At a time when there is so much bloodshed in the Middle East," said Jewish student Oren Pasternak, "we sit side-by-side, Israelis and Palestinians, and discuss how to solve this problem.
The Israeli teen concludes: "If our leaders can't meet and reach a solution, we can do the job for them."
Lauren Gelfond's report is on the Web at:
In Ontario, Canada, resident
Israeli high school junior, Michelle Divon (firstname.lastname@example.org), helped
organize a successful Muslim-Jewish evening for University of Ottawa students
from the Muslim Student Association and Hillel.
A light dinner together preceded their cultural and personal exchange.
Michelle reported: "After watching students who have never spoken or had any interaction, come together, laugh together, and even decide to work together in order to accomplish a common goal, I am filled with more hope then ever.
The Israeli high schooler concluded: "There is nothing more important then realizing and helping others realize that the enemy has a face. There is nothing more fulfilling then bringing people together."
Michelle's own start in Middle East relationship-building is described at http://traubman.igc.org/youth3.htm .
At San Francisco Statue University, Palestinian American Nora Khouri and Israeli Jewish American Orli Bein have teamed to begin that campus's first sustained Jewish-Arab Dialogue. April 1, 2003 they sponsored a model Dialogue panel of Palestinians and Jews In Dialogue telling their stories to a full room that included both students and administrators. Orli and Nora can be reached by e-mail at SFSU_Dialogue@yahoo.com .
Rice University student Liora Danan (Liora@owlnet.rice.edu) writes from Texas that their second Dialogue "went incredibly well - much more so than I was expecting. People stayed for 2.5 hours - they didn't want to stop talking! I introduced the session by re-explaining dialogue. Then we determined what guidelines the group wanted to have for our session, and then we got started. And the dialogue really took on a life of its own, and people got into it and were asking each other the right kinds of questions. It was definitely difficult - I had to reorient us a number of times when we got sidetracked with numbers-comparisons and finger-pointing, but all in all, I think people really started to get the hang of it - and I think it will get better with time and more sessions. Best of all: I feel like I really learned something - it is so liberating to talk in a way that isn't just brain-cycling but is actually about expanding understanding."
New York Univeristy senior,
Shana Kirsch (SLK228@nyu.edu) writes about some of the dynamics and group
decisions of their new campus Dialogue. She points us to an article about
them in the on-line version of their school newspaper:
"This past Thursday night, we had our second dialogue meeting.
"We were worried that the attendance would be a lot less this time, because we had trouble reserving a room again and only a day to let everyone know where the meeting was, but we ended up having a good 25 participants, most of whom were at our first meeting, plus several new faces.
". . . we split into two groups (2 student facilitators per group), went around and had everyone explain their personal connection to the Middle East region or the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and then started to talk about issues relating to media/public opinion/history, because those are the "topics" that the group chose at the end of our first meeting.
"We discussed in our smaller groups for about 45 minutes, then came together in a larger group and shared with one another what we had discussed, and continued the discussion in a larger group for about half an hour.
"Then we had some time for feedback/suggestions, during which several people mentioned that they felt the discussions they had that night really skirted around the real issues, and that people wanted it to get more personal.
"I was very happy to hear THEM saying this, because it has been my intention from the beginning to keep this personal, but I didn't want to impose any topics... I'm glad that through their first dialogue, they came to the conclusion that it needs to stay personal.
"One of my friends who was in the facilitators group has decided to switch over to being a full participant in the group instead - it was a difficult thing to figure out, but she felt that she is just not yet in a place where she can stay 'neutral' enough to facilitate dialogue on these issues, and feels that she'll get more out of participating fully, so we decided as a group that is what would be best."