Palestinian-Israeli Seminar for Young Political Activists

This weekend, we held a seminar for 10 young Israeli and Palestinian political activists. The Israeli participants included journalists, youth activists, and a parliamentary assistant, representing parties from across the political spectrum like Yesh Atid, Kulanu and the Zionist Camp. The Palestinian participants also included journalists, educators, youth and women's rights activists, as well as Palestinian Authority employees.

 

.The seminar, which was held in partnership with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Israel, was designed to facilitate an open and constructive exchange, and so discussion items focused on existing, as well as new and creative solutions to the many challenges Israelis and Palestinians face today. For instance, Yehuda Greenfield-Gilat, an architect and urban planner who helped write the Geneva Initiative Annex on Jerusalem, showed participants how the city can look like under a two-state solution. The participants, some of which have lived or worked in Jerusalem, were all inspired by the presentation. "We keep thinking the issue of Jerusalem is too complicated or even unsolvable", said one of them. "It's remarkable to see how much thought had already been given to it - how to design a border that doesn't interfere with the residents' everyday life, where best to place border crossings… it's so much more feasible than we think!"
 
The seminar's opening session, in which the Geneva Initiative was reviewed and discussed
 
 
 
Session on the future of Jerusalem, led by architect Yehuda Greenfield-Gilat
 
 
 
Other sessions were devoted to the role of the media in mitigating conflict and building peace, challenges faced by youth on both sides, and lessons learned from previous rounds of negotiations. For the participants, however, the most interesting parts of the seminar had to do with the current political situation on both sides. Turns out that there is nothing like asking an Israeli about the current political atmosphere in his country, or listening to a Palestinian explain why the municipal elections in Palestine were postponed. Our participants, all curious and intelligent young professionals, were eager to learn from each other, and to use this precious time to really listen to the other side.
 
As is often the case in our joint activities, what our participants found most impactful was the time they spent with each other outside the discussion room. As one Israeli participant said at the end of the seminar: "Never had I imagined that I'd find myself having Shabbat dinner with Palestinians. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to share this and other experiences with them, and to really listen to their side of the story".
 
Session on public opinion in Israel and Palestine, led by Michael Borchard from the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung
 
 
The group came back home inspired to act, and have already started working together on finding ways to promote the two-state solution within their respective circles of influence. By organizing a day trip to Ramallah for Israeli journalists, publishing an article written by a Palestinian in Israeli media, or just simply bringing Israelis and Palestinians together for a light conversation in a bar - our young leaders are determined to be the change they want to see in the world.