- Written by Steven Aiello
Some of Israel’s brightest young diplomats gathered at the Yachad Modi’in High School on Sunday, passing a number of resolutions promoting women’s rights and empowerment. YachadMUN, the first Model United Nations (MUN) conference to be held in Modi’in, united Arab and Jewish girls and boys from more than 15 schools and cities around Israel for a full day of intensive debates and negotiations before finally voting on 5 resolutions.
YachadMUN was the latest MUN conference run by Debate for Peace (DfP), a program offering free MUN conferences to students all over Israel. DfP is run in DfP coordination with the Interfaith Encounters Association (IEA) and the Jerusalem Peacebuilders (JPB). DfP was able to provide transportation to participating schools thanks to a grant from the American Embassy in Tel Aviv, its newest partner.
At the conference, the 150 participants, ranging from 13 to 18 years old, discussed topics of global importance related to women’s rights: women’s education; women’s health; women’s role in developing economies; sex trafficking, and women’s rights in Muslim countries. After four hours of rigorous debates and negotiations, all five committees passed resolutions.
During the closing ceremony, Mrs. Sassie Yona, the Yachad MUN club advisor, and a teacher in the English and Diplomacy program, thanked everyone who had helped make the conference happen, the guests and the participants. She was followed by the principal of Yachad, Mr. Sagiv Elbaz, who thanked Mrs. Yona for her commitment to MUN at Yachad, essentially creating a dominant program from scratch.
The keynote speaker was Dr. Iris Truman, barrister at law. Dr. Truman, who holds a PhD in law and a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Leicester in England, has also served as a business mentor for young entrepreneurs for more than two decades.An expert in international law and trade agreements and managing complex negotiations, Dr. Truman is the chairman of the ICSCD committee of the Israeli Bar Association. She talked to the students about her latest initiative—a new international commercial court to settle disputes between countries and multinational companies, using practical examples relevant to the conference’s topics.
Following the formal speeches, came the awards section of the evening. Mr. Jack Karn read out the students who had earned scholarships to JPB interfaith programs in the United States this summer: Shai Lenman (Ort Binyamina); Alia Habib Allah (Al-Bashaer); Tal Tzipori (Yachad Modi’in); Lana Wattad (Jatt); Ariel Haguel-Gutman (Darca Begin); Jameel Ghantous (Al-Bashaer); Almog Bar (Ort Gan Yavne); Saba Tahaa (Jadeeda); Omri Zait (Ort Binyamina), and Donia Daghash (Al-Bashaer).
The chairs for each committee then came to the podium and announced the winners of the Best and Outstanding Delegates: In the HRC, Mor Atsmon, Ariel Zinman and Zohar Baskin; in ECOSOC, Chai Margalit and Omri Zait; in OIC, Shaked Offenbach and Donia Daghash, in UNESCO, Or Moshe, Tal Tzipori and Carmel Kenneth, and in the WHO, Yoav Lev Sagie, Hila Krokovski, Omar Masalha and Itai Shalev.
After the event, Mrs. Yona discussed how pleased she was with hosting Modi’in’s first MUN conference:
“My students and I put in countless hours of preparation for this event, and the day went off almost exactly as I had imagined and hoped it would.
Hosting YachadMUN has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my teaching career. This has given students unique opportunities, and I have seen shy, introverted boys and girls shine as they challenge themselves to stand up and represent a country whose policy they may not necessarily agree with.”
Nooralhuda Hoji, co-Director of the Debate for Peace program said that “bringing together so many young students from around Israel to tackle such important topics is proof that we can work together to empower women and change perspectives on key issues, some of DfP’s most important goals.”
Photo Credit: Yachad Modi'in School
- Written by Prime Minister's Media Adviser
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today (Wednesday, 15 February 2017), in Washington DC, at the White House, made the following remarks at the start of his joint press conference with US President Donald Trump:
"President Trump, thank you for the truly warm hospitality you and Melania have shown me, my wife Sara, our entire delegation. I deeply value your friendship to me, to the State of Israel. It was so clearly evident in the words you just spoke. Israel has no better ally than the United States, and I want to assure you, the United States has no better ally than Israel.
Our alliance has been remarkably strong, but under your leadership, I'm confident it will get even stronger. I look forward to working with you to dramatically upgrade our alliance in every field, in security, in technology, in cyber and trade and so many others. And I certainly welcome your forthright call to ensure that Israel is treated fairly in international forums and that the slander and boycotts of Israel are resisted mightily by the power and moral position of the United States of America.
As you have said, our alliance is based on a deep bond of common values and common interest. And increasingly, those values and interests are under attack by one malevolent force: Radical Islamic terror.
Mr. President, you've shown great clarity and courage in confronting this challenge head-on. You call for confronting Iran's terrorist regime, preventing Iran from realizing this terrible deal into a nuclear arsenal, and you have said that the United States is committed to preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons. You call for the defeat of ISIS.
Under your leadership, I believe we can reverse the rising tide of radical Islam. And in this great task, as in so many others, Israel stands with you and I stand with you.
Mr. President, in rolling back militant Islam, we can seize an historic opportunity, because for the first time in my lifetime and for the first time in the life of my country, Arab countries in the region do not see Israel as an enemy, but increasingly – as an ally.
I believe that under your leadership, this change in our region creates an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen security and advance peace. Let us seize this moment together; let us bolster security; let us seek new avenues of peace; and let us bring the remarkable alliance between Israel and the United States to even greater heights.
Thank you, thank you, Mr. President."
Photo credit: Avi Ohayon (GPO)
- Written by Prime Minister's Media Adviser
PM Netanyahu and Australian PM Turnbull issued a Joint Declaration today in Sydney. The declaration reflects the mutual commitment of Israel and Australia to their deep friendship and their determination to elevate their bilateral cooperation.
- Written by Steven Aiello
Jewish, Christian and Muslim prayer rights in Jerusalem; the 1947 Partition Plan; incitement in social media, and Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. While each of these topics can be politically divisive for even seasoned diplomats, on Wednesday January 18th some of Israel’s youngest future diplomats tackled these issues and more with poise and grace at QASMUN. QASMUN is the latest Debate for Peace (DfP) Model UN Conference, and was the first conference to be hosted by the prestigious Al-Qasemi High School and the first of its kind to be held in Baqa al-Gharabiya.
Over 150 Arab and Jewish 8th-12th grade students from more than a dozen schools and cities around Israel participated in the conference. There were six committees, discussing Education; Holy Sites and Religious Freedom; Incitement vs. Freedom of Speech; and Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Two historical committees went back to 1947 and 1973, to look at an alternative Partition Plan and deal with the 1973 Yom Kippur War respectively.
The students made opening speeches, debated and negotiated on their way to passing resolutions on their different topics (aside from the Security Council negotiations committee, which ran into a veto from the US delegate). The conference afforded an opportunity for young Arab and Jewish leaders to debate some of the most critical issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and to build bridges and make new friends in the process.
Mr. JonChessoni, Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of Kenya, joined the students during the conference. In addition to listening to each of the sessions, Mr. Chessoni met with each of the students who were representing Kenya in the different committees.
At the end of the evening the delegates enjoyed a gala dinner at the College of Engineering, before attending the closing ceremony. At the ceremony, Mr. Morsi Abu Mokh greeted all of the guests on behalf of the Baqa al-Gharabiya municipality. Dr. Dalia Fadila, principal of Al-Qassemi High School and dean of the Engineering College, thanked everyone for coming and promised that this was only the first of what will be an annual conference. Students heard from Dr. Yehuda Stolov of the Interfaith Encounters Association (IEA) and Dr. Omer Salem, visiting from Cairo, who spoke about religion as a force for peace and reconciliation. Reham Abu Asba, the Al-Qassemi staff member who oversaw the conference preparation, spoke about her pride and hope in the important steps that had been taken during the conference by students learning to represent different viewpoints. A statement was also read on behalf of Mr. Yoni Eshpar, political adviser to the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO).
The keynote speaker was Mr. Drew Peterson, Vice Consul and Assistant to the U.S. Ambassador in Israel. Mr. Peterson recalled his own MUN and career experiences, and talked about the life and diplomatic skills that students can acquire through MUN.
Following the speeches were the awards—top delegates from each committee receiving certificates for their performances: Lebanon (Jamal Majadly) and Turkey (Muhammad Samara) in UNESCO; Egypt (Zuhra Issa) and Israel (Shimi Katavi) in ECOSOC; Italy (Naseem Zahalka) and Spain (Hila Krakowski) in the HRC; Belgium (Omri Harpaz) and Greece (Tasneem Abu Hussien) in the UNGA 1947; the US (Omar Masalha) and France (Rula Abo Mokh) in the Security Council and the USSR (Omri Weinstock) and Israel (Adan Masri) in the UNSC Crisis committee.
Jack Karn announced the students who had been chosen for Jerusalem Peacebuilders (JPB) programs in the US this summer on the basis of their participation: Amit Lipperman; Muhammad Samara; Omri Weinstock; Naseem Zahalka; Omer Sharir; Marsel Badir; Amit Ner Gaon and Ben Chelsky.
Sana Zahalka, the QASMUN Secretary-General, explained that “our goal was to bring together students from all over the country and teach them how to present a perspective while having respect and understanding of others.” Hala Majadley, the Under-Secretary-General reiterated that “it was a very successful, fruitful, fun first QASMUN conference, and now we’ll just have to wait for the next one!”Omer Sharir, a Jewish student from Gedera who represented Palestine in the negotiations committee, said that “it was very challenging to represent the Palestinian Authority in the Security Council…because the PA represents the opposite of what I believe in, but the more I got into it, the more I learned and the more I researched about the topic, the more I enjoyed the actual day.”
QASMUN was part of the Debate for Peace (DfP) MUN program run in coordination with the IEA and JPB.
The next DfP conference will be YachadMUN, on February 26th in Modi’in, focusing on Women’s Rights and Empowerment.
For more information, please visit debateforpeace.wordpress.com.
Photos Credit Al-Qasemi Press Team