Their elders speak only of land
But young women and men -- Israelis and Palestinians, alike -- want mobility.
Young Arabs and Jews both long for freedom to move freely, safely within their own borders, region, world.
Thanks to Common Ground News -- http://commongroundnews.org/ -- we hear student voices from December 2005 meetings in Israel/Palestine initiated by Europe 2020, at the invitation of the Young Israeli Forum for Cooperation (YIFC).
YIFC -- http://yifc.org/ -- are young students and activists mobilized to encourage cooperation and understanding between Israelis and Palestinians with peace building projects.
The youth were facilitated by Franck Biancheri, president of Newropeans Magazine, who recorded their wisdom and hopes:
Students were asked an uncommon question.
"If our meeting room was a time machine bringing us into 2025, what would you dream of finding in the
An Israeli dreamed of visiting countries in the
A Palestinian wanted freedom to move around his own country, and another wanted to travel around the world.
This desire for mobility was consistent among all the youth.
And by students and professors in universities, where many would like to see Israeli and Palestinian universities connected to a student exchange program.
Surprisingly, all of the youth, women and men -- Israeli and Palestinian -- were dreaming of the same thing: freedom of movement.
It is easy to imagine how these young people feel trapped. Israelis cannot visit the West Bank and
Palestinians cannot freely travel within their own country, are not treated well in other Arab countries, and cannot visit other parts of the world without difficult-to-obtain permits and permissions from
Elders talk about important, but static, concepts of land and states.
The 21st Century Generation seeks cross-borders, cross-cultural mobility.
This shared Arab-Jewish concrete goal may help trigger the "massive youth support needed to pave the way for a new reality in the region."
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Then. . .in February 2006 after the Palestinian elections, 58 young Palestinian and Israeli citizen-leaders met.
They re-affirmed their partnership to reject extremism.
Read below about their courage and intentions to build a new life together.
It's also described on the blog of organizers OneVoice -- http://blog.onevoicemovement.org .
Before us is a new breed of young women and men in the
Witness adults being born and leading.
Tension and suspicion permeated the air.
For many in the room, this was the first time ever to meet someone from 'the other side', let alone doing so two weeks after the Hamas PLC election victory.
Amidst cautious translations between Hebrew and Arabic, tough questions and awkward silences highlighted the unease of the participants.
Bassem Lafi from Ramallah shared his apprehension. "I am here to know what do Israelis think about Palestinians, and if they think they are all terrorists. I am here to demonstrate that this is not true."
Ravit Asher, a very active Israeli OV young leader, whose father was killed in a hostile action during his military service, shared how she was trying to grapple with her personal loss on her quest for reconciliation and desire to raise my children to a better future.
Then Israeli Elad Dunievsky stood and addressed his 30 Palestinian counterparts in fluent Arabic. He highlighted his empathy for the suffering on both sides and urged unity among moderate Israelis and Palestinians to fight violent extremism.
After a standing ovation and amidst some stunned faces, an energized Fawaz Mghayer, a Palestinian from
Ideas started flowing. The ice had melted.
Lets start with what Ghandi said: 'Be the change you want to see in the world', said Nada Majdalani, a young Palestinian refugee. That is why we are here to see what we can do today."
[Indeed, Nada followed through by traveling to
Over more than 3 hours, 58 OneVoice Palestinian & Israeli Youth Leaders explored concrete ways in which they can empower citizens against extremism and towards conflict resolution.
Among the decisions reached that evening was to institute a college speaking tour on Israeli and Palestinian campuses.
I was never part of the 'peace Camp' and never took part in a peace rally or demonstration, shared Netanel Avneri from
The meeting, originally scheduled in
But youth leaders persevered and regrouped in Zone B (where Palestinians and Israelis are technically allowed without permits). Some woke at dawn to travel from distant villages.
Sahar Faqeeh, a Palestinian nursing student from
Yoni Arad shared he used to be a checkpoint officer in his military reserve service. Then that day, for the first time, I passed the A-Ram checkpoint north of
This was my first time to sit with Israelis - I never thought I would do it, said Hanadi Abu Hadid. She wore a flowing Hijab and expressed herself in Arabic with translations from her peers. It was good to see that we are all working for the same cause and to know that we have a partner on the other side with the same frustration and pain and desire to break the pattern.
Eran Scheferman concluded, We need to talk about this to those who say all Palestinians are terrorists or all Israelis are occupiers and soldiers. Let the Israelis pass the message to their settler friends, and the Palestinians to their Hamas friends. It is important to transmit the message to those who disagree with us, not to ones who already agree.
The OneVoice Youth Leadership program has trained over 500 Palestinians and over 300 Israelis thus far.
The most exceptional young leaders in their communities are chosen from a pool of qualified candidates after a rigorous interview process.
Members go through an immersion training weekend program and then participate in bi-monthly training and activities in their communities.
Occasionally -- and increasingly, in spite of the obstacles -- joint planning meetings like the above are being held, at the request of young activists.
OneVoice Youth leaders are the engine of the movement to empower moderate citizens to claim their lives back from violent extremism.
Learn more at http://www.onevoicemovement.org/wps/portal .