On November 20th, the US Embassy’s American Center opened the first conference of the year for the Debate for Peace Model United Nations program. The conference included 80 Jewish and Muslim high school students from more than ten cities and a dozen schools around Israel. The students had five hours to resolve challenging conflicts in Afghanistan and Somalia, while representing their assigned countries.
Students attending the conference came from schools in Sakhnin, Baqa al-Gharabiya, Tira, Petah Tiqva, Givatayim, Yafo, Modi’in, Gedera, Gan Yavne and Yavne. For many of the students it was their first time participating in an MUN conference, or an interfaith event of this kind.
The Debate for Peace (DfP) program is run in partnership with the Interfaith Encounters Association (IEA) and the Jerusalem Peacebuilders (JPB) and is the only Model UN conference series in Israel that is free for participants. The conference on November 20th, in addition to being hosted by the American Center, was sponsored by Citizens Diplomacy Initiatives (CDI), a Florida-based NGO that works to connect Israeli, Palestinian and American citizens.
During the conference, students represented a range of countries and made speeches, debated, and negotiated in their effort to address the conflicts in Afghanistan and Somalia, following rules modeled after the UN rules of procedure. Both groups managed to pass resolutions before the awards ceremony that marked the end of the day.
Yehuda Stolov opened the awards ceremony, explaining to the students that they were now IEA members, and were welcome to participate in and initiate future events. Mayor Lauren Poe spoke next on behalf of his delegation from Gainesville, Florida. Although this was his first visit to Israel, Mayor Poe promised that there would be more and invited the students to visit Gainesville and interact with MUN students in Florida. Steve Kalishman then explained about CDI’s efforts in bridging between Israeli, Palestinian and American citizens, and the importance in being willing to take risks to make peace.
Mr. Michael Snowden, political counselor at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, spoke to the students on behalf of the American Embassy. Mr. Snowden shared insights from his own career as a diplomat, including time spent at the UN headquarters in NYC. He encouraged students considering careers in diplomacy to pursue their dreams, and said that the skills gained through MUN could help everyone in their personal and professional lives.
During the awards ceremony, outstanding participants from each committee were recognized (Aya Abu Mokh, Adan Masri and Alon Mor in the Somalia committee and Oded Riftin, Gabrielle Imperial, Ben Hami and Tomer Dovzhenko in the Afghanistan committee). In addition, one student from each school received a Best of Delegation Award.
At the end of the ceremony, Jack Karn made an important announcement on behalf of the Jerusalem Peacebuilders. He announced that the JPB would be offering full scholarships to DfP MUN students to attend JPB interfaith leadership camps in the US this summer (held in Connecticut, Houston and Vermont). Jack announced the five students who were chosen based on their participation at the conference, with another two dozen to be chosen at upcoming conferences.
Feedback from the participants, teachers and guests was overwhelmingly positive. Many of the students had been apprehensive or intimidated going into the event, but all came away with smiles (along with Certificates of Participation and gifts from the University of Florida). Sean Yona, from Yachad Modi'in, said that beforehand "I didn't know what to expect, and I was scared. When I got there, I saw that everybody felt the same way, and that it was most people's first time too. Everyone was very friendly, and the chairs were helpful." Carmel Kenneth, a student at Ort Rabin in Gan Yavne, agreed: "It was my first time in a Model UN, and I had a lot of fun. I think it gives a lot of experience for life, in debating and making new friends."
Omri Weinstock, who chaired the Somalia committee, said "This conference was an important milestone for me, in the extraordinary journey of Model United Nations." His counterpart Sana Zahalka, who chaired the Afghanistan committee, seconded the sentiment, saying "I enjoyed chairing a lot of amazing, eloquent delegates...one of the best days of my life."
The next DfP conference will be held in January, in Baqa al-Gharabiya. For more information and to register for conferences, please visit the DfP website: https://debateforpeace.
Written by Steven Aiello,
Director, Debate for Peace program
Photos Jack Karn
Israel, Japan, Jordan and the PA opening path to peace
The development and construction of the industrial zone is a result of the Israeli-Jordanian-Palestinian initiative in what has been defined as the ‘Corridor for Peace and Regional Growth.’
Japanese State Minister for Foreign Affairs Kentaro Sonoura, on Wednesday, 7 September 2016, at the Oasis Hotel in Jericho, is due to chair a meeting of Israeli, Japanese, Jordanian and Palestinian Authority (PA) representatives on expanding the Jericho industrial zone, which is being built with financing from the Japanese government, and paving a new road in the Jordan Valley – parallel to Road #90 – to facilitate the rapid and efficient transport of goods between the industrial zone and the Allenby Crossing to Jordan.
The four-way meeting is being held in continuation of Deputy Regional Cooperation Minister Ayoub Kara's recent meeting with the Japanese Foreign Ministry Deputy Director General for Middle East Affairs at which the continued development of the industrial zone and the Deputy Minister's recent tour of the zone – accompanied by Japanese Ambassador to Israel Koji Tomita as well as Jericho Gov ernor Majed al-Fityani and representatives of the JAIP, PA and Coordinator of Activities in the Territories – was discussed. Plans for developing the existing industrial zone and paving the new designated access road were also discussed as were Deputy Minister Kara's proposals on solutions to the security and infrastructure delays that have stymied the work.
The development and construction of the industrial zone is the product of work done in recent years led by the Regional Cooperation Ministry with the assistance of the Japanese government, which has expressed great interest in the Israeli-Jordanian-Palestinian initiative in what has been defined as the "Corridor for Peace and Regional Growth." The expedited work by Deputy Minister Kara and the Regional Cooperation Ministry staff with the various sides led to the progress that was achieved in the past month which, in turn , has made possible this week's four-way meeting. The meeting is due to be the last before the start of work on the new road.
Last week, during his participation in "Global Water Week" events in Sweden, Deputy Minister Kara updated Arab state, European and US representatives on progress in building the Jericho industrial zone; the representatives applauded the measure. The Regional Cooperation Ministry will – on behalf of the Government of Israel – continue to lead the work – with Japan, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority – on expanding the industrial zone and paving the new road as part of an industrial and free trade center.
Deputy Regional Cooperation Minister Ayoub Kara: "I am pleased by the significant progress in the project which is due to assist in strengthening commercial links between, and the economies of, countries in the region, especially Jordan and Israel itself. Cooperation for the welfare of residents of the region is a significant tool in defeating religious extremism and advancing peace processes between us and our neighbors. The designated industrial zone will serve as an important catalyst in boosting regional trade which will lead to greater stability and continued economic growth."
Photo Deputy Minister of Regional Cooperation Ayoob Kara. Image courtesy Knesset channel webcast
Former President Shimon Peres and Michael Douglas held discussion before hundreds of young Jewish leaders
Michael Douglas to Shimon Peres about the threats against Israel:
"I am very concerned about the development of nuclear weapons in the region and the threats of boycotting Israel"
When asked by Douglas about his opinion on the BDS movement, Peres expressed “The Boycott is an anti-peace movement. The only solution that would guarantee stability for both peoples is the two state solution".
Laughter was heard after Douglas revealed his age and Peres called him "a baby"
Former President Shimon Peres and Genesis Prize Laurate Michael Douglas appeared before hundreds of young Jewish leaders at an event held at the Peres Center for Peace. The special meeting was entitled "Jewish voices talk peace" with the participation of former President Peres, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky and Michael Douglas.
Douglas said about the attempted boycott against Israel and the threat of Iran developing nuclear weapons: "I am a UN ambassador for peace and I would like to say that from my experience the biggest problem in the world are nuclear weapons. However, I am optimistic when I look at former President Peres. I know that the world can lead to good directions, but I'm still very concerned."
Douglas took advantage of the opportunity of being asked what he would say if he could address the knesset, saying "I respect the fact that I am not Israeli, but I am very concerned about the attempts of boycotting Israel and I am not comfortable with the response at the moment. I hope that the Knesset parties will overcome internal differences and work together".
Former President Peres called Jewish youth to represent Israel in the world and continue to support the peace process: "Peace is the vision of the greatest majority of the people in Israel and most of the world supports it. Only through peace will we create two independent and free states, and we must not ignore that. We must negotiate with those who disagree with us to make compromises. We have to be brave and never lose hope. ”
Addressing Iran, Peres added that the world should join forces to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons
"The problem is that the regime wants to have nuclear weapons while threatening Israel's existence. We must prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and it is better to do it with a coalition than alone. There is an existing coalition that President Obama built with other countries and all options are on the table. Of course if Iran can be dissuaded to abandon its nuclear program diplomatically it would be better, but we are not ruling out any options. "
Douglas: "I am always amazed at how many Jews are not in Israel- the most important thing is to come here and feel Israel. Everyone has his own narrative, and I encourage all of you to find your Jewish narrative and keep it in the future.
Before the event, Douglas took a tour of the Peres Center with Shimon Peres, in which Peres talked about Israel being a Start-Up Nation as well as the current coexistence situation in Jaffa that reflects the tolerance and mutual respect between people of different religious backgrounds.
It should be noted that the Genesis Prize aims to recognize outstanding individuals who have a global reputation in their field their activities, in addition to their achievements embodying the character of the Jewish people through commitment to Jewish values, community and / or the State of Israel. The Prize recognizes Jewish values and contribution to the improvement of humanity.
Photos Silvia Golan
The President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, delivered a speech before the Dutch Parliament this evening. The speech came on the day when President Peres was hosted by the new King of the Netherlands and met with Prime Minister Mark Rutte and the two held a joint press conference.
Following the speech to the parliament, President Peres held a closed doors question and answer session with members of the Dutch parliament. In his speech President Peres laid out a vision for a Middle East based on science and a modern economy and addressed the major issues of the day. President Peres called upon the European Union to maintain the pressure on Iran and to acquiesce to Secretary Kerry request not to implement the new guidelines which would hamper the peace negotiations. Below are extracts from his speech. The speech in full is attached.
President Peres on Iran:
"A responsible coalition of the peace-seeking countries was formed to prevent Iran from attaining its dangerous nuclear ambitions. President Obama has engaged the United States as well as the European Union, among others, to impose sanctions upon Iran, in order to stop it from building nuclear weapons. The coalition preferred, rightly, to start with diplomacy while the military option remains. The end of the Iranian nuclear threat, as well as the end of Iran being a centre of terror is the right way to keep the world free and secure."
"The sanctions led to the new tone of Iran. President Rouhani's address to the UN must stand the test of real implementation. Today it is just a declaration, in a rhetoric competition. Furthermore, the realities of today in Iran are in stark contradiction to his address. The construction of a nuclear bomb is a fact not a phrase."
"Historically the Jewish people knew friendship with Iran. The Iranian threat began when Khomeini took power. It is up to his successors to bring an end to it."
President Peres on negotiations with the Palestinians
"Now we renewed the negotiations of peace with our Palestinian neighbours, with the help of Secretary Kerry, with the support of the United Europe and the United States. I believe it is possible. I believe it is realistic. I believe it should be done as soon as possible. All of us agree, Arabs and Israelis and the whole world, that the two state solution is the right one– a Jewish state, Israel and an Arab state, Palestine – living side by side in peace, respect and security."
"The European Union, and the Netherlands in particular, were and remain very supportive, playing a meaningful role in making peace a reality. Spinoza described peace beautifully: "Peace is not mere absence of war, but is a virtue that springs from a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice.”
"Secretary Kerry asked the European Union to suspend the recent new guidelines, so as to free the negotiations from an added burden. When peace will be completed, and it may happen quite soon, those guidelines will anyway become unnecessary. I believe that the answer of Europe to the request of the Secretary will be positive to make the negotiations flow uninterrupted. I believe it will be unnecessary in a short while."
"There is no need for interim solutions. We shall make peace, there is no need for half measures. To cross a chasm, it is safer to do it in one brave step."
President Peres on Syria:
"The Syrian agreement to dismantle their chemical arsenal was done only after Syria was threatened militarily. Humanity has no right to forget the lost lives of thousands of Syrians – innocent civilians, young children – were murdered on their own land, at the hand of their own leader. It is time for Assad to understand that the world has moral boundaries, not just geographical borders. He crossed all of them."
President Peres on relations with the Netherlands:
"The new Netherlands has become a moving friend of Israel. Thank you. The Netherlands, like Israel, sees its destiny in a biblical touch. What we call in Hebrews for Tikkun Olam, which means bettering the world. Values outweigh expediencies. Our relations are close and friendly. The economic cooperation is constantly increasing. Cultural exchanges brought books and art. Scientific collaboration offered a great potential for the two of us. The Dutch contribution to the peace process in the Middle East is valuable and meaningful. Yesterday, today and may I say tomorrow as well."
"From Jerusalem, I carry the prayers of our people for the well-being of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima. I witnessed His Majesty’s devotion to peace when he presided over the trilateral committee of Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinians to make water flow peacefully and efficiently. I happened to represent Israel so I watched with admiration the way he ran the committee and the results are still evident today."
This week, Israel Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel summarized the IAF's operations during Operation Pillar of Defense, which concluded last week. Maj. Gen. Eshel promised that the IAF would continue to be ready for any challenge, maintaining a high level of readiness for challenges in the future.
In a note sent to all officers and soldiers in the IAF, Maj. Gen. Eshel said, "Over the course of a week, operated against the upper echelon of terror organizations, their operatives and their infrastructure. The IAF carried out its missions in a clear and precise manner. We demonstrated the highest degree of professionalism, creativity, and execution, all while maintaining admirable morality."
An officer within the Air Force noted that "the offensive effort was based entirely on accurate intelligence that progressed in real-time. The extensive planning, execution, and precise attack caused serious and extensive damage to the terror organizations, all during complex operating conditions in the heart of urban areas. Our air defenses intercepted and downed hundreds of rockets fired at Israeli citizens in the southern and central regions of the country. It is an unprecedented achievement and a milestone in the history of warfare."
They will work in tandem with the ongoing work of the Prime Minister's Office, National Security Council, and Home Front Defense Ministry in preparing the home front for security events of this kind.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said, "The resilience shown by Israeli citizens and the local authorities was an important component in achieving the goals of the operation. Residents' needs must be seen to quickly and efficiently. I am aware of the distress and the needs, and we will deal with them. I am following the dealing with home front and I have directed all ministries to see to physical reconstruction, psychological rehabilitation and economic compensation quickly and without bureaucracy."
President of the Commission issued the following statement today:“I welcome the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and Israel. I commend in particular the efforts of Egypt
and all those who engaged in mediating between the parties to secure this ceasefire.
The European Union will continue its efforts to ensure a sustainable solution to the present
situation in the Gaza Strip. This is crucial for ending all violence and enhancing security in the
Upon being informed of the terrorist attack earlier today (Wednesday, 21 November 2012) on Shaul Hamelekh St., the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality immediately dispatched an emergency crew – composed of representatives from the social welfare and education departments, the psychological counseling service and others – to the scene in order to assist rescue service and medical personnel who were already on site.
A representative of the social welfare department liaison unit has gone to the Tel Aviv-Sourasky Medical Center to assist the families of the injured.
Education department personnel have gone to schools and kindergartens in the vicinity of the attack site.
The municipal switchboard (106) is on emergency footing. Social workers and psychologists are being reinforced.
The public is strongly requested not to go to the attack site.
Israel has the right under international law, and a moral obligation, to act in self-defense, to defend its population and to protect its territory when under attack, as well as to take military action against the terrorist attacks from the Gaza Strip.
The legal justification for the operation
Israel has the right under international law, and a moral obligation, to act in self-defense, to defend its population and to protect its territory when under attack, as well as to take military action against the terrorist attacks from the Gaza Strip.
5:35pm: The IDF has targeted a significant number of long range rockets sites (over 40km) owned by Hamas. This deals a significant blow to the terror organizations underground rocket launching capabilities and munitions ware houses owned by Hamas and other terror organizations.
The aim of targeting these sites is to hamper their rocket launching weapons build up capabilities.
The Gaza strip, has turned it into a frontal base for Iran firing rockets and carrying out terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens.
The IDF will continue to target terrorist sites that are used to carry out terror attacks against Israeli citizens.
"If an alarm is sounded, all of us have exactly 30 seconds to find shelter. This is the situation<http://www.idf.il/1283-17526-EN/Dover.aspx> in which one million Israelis find themselves in. That’s families, old people, children, babies – Including like the children who stand here.
A million Israelis, including many little children, like the ones here, are targeted on a daily basis, by people who took areas that we vacated, that the Government of Israel vacated, came in there, and are now hiding behind civilians, while firing on civilians, firing on our children. A million Israelis…
I don’t know of any of your governments who could accept such a thing. I don’t know of any of the citizens of your cities, who could find that acceptable and something that could proceed on a normal basis. I think the whole world understands that this is not acceptable. It’s something that the people of Israel can’t accept and it’s something that I, as the Prime Minister of Israel, I cannot accept it.
So we’re going to fight for the rights of our people to defend themselves. We’ll take whatever action is necessary to put a stop to this. This is not merely our right, it’s also our duty, and it’s something that I think is understood not only by you, who are here in Ashkelon today, but by any fair-minded person in any fair-minded government in the world they would understand that it’s our right to defend our people, and this is what we shall do."
The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission issued the following statement today: "I am very concerned by the latest escalation of violence between Gaza and Israel.I condemn the firing of rockets and mortars into Israel, and call on both sides to refrain fromexacerbating the situation. Further regrettable loss of life and injury must be avoided.I support the mediation efforts by Egypt and reiterate that there is no place for violence in theMiddle East. It is only through resumed negotiations that the legitimate aspirations of bothPalestinians and Israelis will be met, through a two-state solution."
Senior Telecom and Hi-Tech Executives from Around the World, Led by Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, Set to Participate in the Upcoming Israeli Presidential Conference
Approximately 200 leading speakers from Israel and abroad have already confirmed their participation in the conference, set to take place June 19-21 in Jerusalem
Jerusalem, Israel, May 20, 2012 - The Steering Committee of the 2012 Israeli Presidential Conference, 'Facing Tomorrow', announced today that the Chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, as well as senior executives from the global hi-tech and marketing industry, have confirmed their participation in the upcoming conference as speakers at the event. They will be joining more than 200 leading academics, politicians, economists, technologists, scientists, entertainers and businessmen from around the world.
Findings of the FES study: "Intolerance, Prejudice and Discrimination – A European Report", investigating causes of racism and Anti-Semitism in Europe will be discussed.
Israel made it clear in the first place that the ICC has no jurisdiction in this matter.
In Israel, the issue has, for an extensive period of time already, been addressed by inter-ministerial teams, headed by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of Justice, with the participation of other bodies.
While Israel welcomes the decision on the lack of ICC jurisdiction, it has reservations regarding some of the legal pronouncements and assumptions in the Prosecutor's statement.
The news desk editors must be going insane. The Japanese earthquake tragedy is the top story; bigtime news. Shutting out everything else. In some of the media, the questions raised about the future of nuclear power almost overshadow the human tragedy. Everyone has his/her priorities …
Here in Israel, at Itamar, the slaughter of an innocent family, including a 3-month old infant, apparently by Palestinian terrorists (the army is still searching), was also largely overshadowed by news of the Japanese earthquake. Israeli news media reported it at large, but it hardly made a blip on international radars. Five people - the parents and three young kids - had their throats slashed as they slept.
Finally, the world’s liberals and human rights activists made soothing statements and declarations of how inhuman & barbaric the perpetrators were. However, some even managed to hint that the victims were actually at fault, for being Israelis, for being Jews, for living in Itamar.
I was sickened at the crocodile tears. The self-same people who incite hatred and terrorism against Israel, were wringing their hands at the “awful tragedy”.
Except that they should have been scrubbing their hands to remove the blood. Because the blood of the murdered civilians will forever taint the hands of the very people who bemoan the fate of the children now, but who were inciting against Israel just a moment before. They are as guilty of the murders as the murderers themselves.
Today, more news: The “Viktoria”, stopped on the high seas by the Israeli Navy, is being unloaded of its ghastly weaponry, sent from Syria/Iran to the Hamas terrorists in Gaza. I’m waiting to see which, if any, of the leftist liberal organizations condemns the arming of terrorists out to murder civilians.
I’m not holding my breath.
Via The Real Israel's Blog- http://reallyisrael.wordpress.com/
Photo provided by Jonathan Danilowitz
The Council of the European Union reached its December 2010 conclusions regarding the Middle East Peace Process.