On the 1st and 2nd of March, 2017 the DP1 ESP Peace students participated in a 24 hour peacemaking conference, where we were split into three groups and within the groups were divided into Israeli delegates and Palestinian delegates, talking about pressing issues regarding the Palestinian Israeli conflict.
We started the year with a… well… let’s say, interesting ‘Mediation and Conflict Management’ course, run by our ‘beloved’ Ran & Ran, using never ending blue and yellow powerpoints for two hours each Sunday morning, where we developed our skills on how to mediate discussions using made up scenarios.
Sadly, after the first term our dear Ran & Ran ‘left’ and we thought it was over, but guess what! Sapir came… He gave a well spoken speech to the whole school about the complexity of the conflict and how they tried to mimic countries that succeeded in making peace, but failed time and time again.
We had a month to prepare for the simulation and during that time investigated further into the topics we wanted to discuss. The four main topics that were negotiated included:
- Peace Education
- Holy sites
And then after negotiations and agreement on a two state solution, the best solution possible for both sides were discussed on the following 4 main topics:
- Gaza Strip
Before the simulation, we were all a bit apprehensive about what was to come, at least for me, I didn’t get the whole point of the simulation before starting. I wondered what was the point of discussing it from two different sides, and especially for some it would be from a side they’ve never spoken from before, and then at the end coming to conclusions that would not even reach the government or anyone in power to actually make a change. However, after sitting down for twenty four hours discussing the issue, I realised just how necessary it was.
I think each person gained something out of those 24 hours. For the Israelis and Palestinians who had to switch roles and argue from “the other side’s” point of view, they would say they gained a new perspective of the conflict. The importance of seeing the issue from the other person’s view isn’t always easy, especially if you’ve grown up your whole life hearing that that side is either occupying your land and can take your home away from you at any second, or that they are terrorists and bombers who need to be gone. At times it was hard, some could not handle the conversation as it went against everything they believed. Even I, who was representing Israel in the negotiation wanted to just stop talking because I don’t believe in the things I was saying.
Speaking from an international perspective, we felt as if we weren’t educated enough to discuss the matters, however, once it began we all realised we played a vital part in the simulation. When you’re in the conflict, it’s hard not to take things personally, that’s why it’s good to have internationals as we see the conflict from afar, able to analyse everything, as opposed to looking at it with a magnifying glass.
There were tons of media who showed up to capture what was taking place. We were interviewed and opened up, but to our surprise, some of them came back negative(can be viewed at the bottom). I guess some people aren’t open to the fact that a school like EMIS exists and is thriving.
Overall it was a great 24 hours filled with lots of ups and some downs, yet in the end, we were all able to come to agreements. Yes, they may have been somewhat unrealistic, but I am optimistic that one day we will have a two state solution, satisfying both sides, and have peace.
Written by: Maya Shina