Finding a Family in Kosovo

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Debate for peace delegation to kosovo

By: Ella Justus Segal, 10th grade student from Israel

In December me, and 12 other students went  to Kosovo, with Steven, our advisor and the debate for peace director.

It was my first time flying abroad without my parents and needless to say, I was excited and nervous, not only the nervousness of flying, but also the fear from a model UN conference with university students, and to add some stress, the group of people that went with me, were all new people to me.

I’ve decided to write this blog post because only after I came back I got how much this experience shaped me, shaped me to be a better and wiser person. The friends that I now have from this delegation saw me in my highest and lowest points, and in those moments, that’s what really brought us closer together.

The first day we were all very tired and grumpy from 12 hours of traveling and not enough sleep.

By the second day we got to know each other better and got out of our shells, we had to catch a bus from Albania to Kosovo and we had to walk 40 minutes with suitcases, the first time that we understood that we are a group, and we need to help each other and ignore what we think about the person based on their race, color of their skin etc…

The third day was the first day of the conference and we were all nervous, we calmed each other down and helped each other prepare for the first day.

I can keep listing each day and say what happened that day but I think I can summarize what I want to say without it.

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What we experienced was an amazing experience that taught us all patience and care about each other. We learned it by late night conversations about the Israeli Palestinian conflict, by sleeping in the same room with a person that we know little to nothing about, we learnt it with days of traveling and being far from home, with no family that can help us, and in times of crisis we had to talk to each other, to help each other, and care about each other.

When we came back to Israel we were all shocked that those seven days were over so quickly, we hugged and cried in the airport, saying that we will miss each other so much, and in that moment I realized that even though some of them live three hours away from me, they will still be a family to me.

Thank you so much for reading!

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Getting to know people through debate

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By Duna Milhem

I’ve been searching for the best way to get to know people, and it’s through having a debate with them.

Being in a model Knesset simulation gave me the chance to express my point of view about the Nation state law and the status of minorities as a Palestinian living in Israel. People with different thoughts, ideas and backgrounds were in the same committee trying to explain what they want or what they are hoping for.

We had disagreements because of our different perspectives, but we all agreed on Peace. Which means we’ve done the first step as young leaders who are willing to do more for this world.

MUN has helped me to understand the principle of ”if you judge people you have no time to love them”. I will judge people by the content of their character and by knowing them as a human being, regardless their nationality, religion and beliefs.

Bashaer MUN was a good conference to start with this year, and I’m aspiring to achieve more on the next conferences.

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MEDIMUN 2018: An Exceptional Delegation

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By: Fiona Imperial
It was my first time joining an inter-faith and inter-cultural delegation to a Model of United Nations conference abroad. At Model United Nations conferences, people tend to socialize, and multiple times people questioned, “what school delegation do you belong to?” I answered, “I don’t belong to a school delegation, I belong to a delegation that consists of Muslims, Jews, and Christians that debate for peace.” Every time I stated that I belong to such a delegation, there was this hint of surprise on their faces.

The hint of surprise on their faces led me to contemplate why they had such an expression on their faces. After two years of belonging to such organization, it has become conventional to me that we coexist despite the cultural and religious differences. Debate for peace consists of people who set aside the differences between identities and view each other as equal human beings. However, in most settings such model of coexistence and diversity is rare.

It clicked in my mind that the reason why there was this hint of surprise on people’s faces was due to how we defied the norm of polarization based on identities. This realization has made me believe that we are doing something transformative. As an inter-faith and inter-cultural youth delegation, we aspire to establish change for the present and the future. Not only did we end our conference becoming a family, but we strengthened our connections with one another with the common goal: to promote peace, coexistence, and change.

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On the last day of the conference


MEDIMUN 2018: Learning from Friends

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By Avi Scharlat

We can learn a tremendous amount from books, but the knowledge that is attainable through those means is limited. There exists a whole other understanding of reality that is impossible to obtain through reading.

One can only be exposed to that reality through personal interactions and experiences. Interactions and experiences like staying up all night and talking with someone belonging to a people that you have been taught to fear and avoid since birth. Interactions and experiences like explaining your perspective to a group of people from a foreign land who probably haven’t even ever met anyone from your country and actually getting positive responses. Interactions and experiences like listening to someone who, according to the media, sits on the opposing side of a conflict with you and actually finding common ground. Interactions and experiences like hearing opinions from real life people from different cultures and different backgrounds instead of just relying on hearing them second-hand through the media and your community.

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Waiting for the closing ceremony

These interactions and experiences that I encountered on my trip to Cyprus are only the beginning of a long list that completely changed my perspective on the world. I could have stayed at home for those three days and read every single book on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Jewish people, and the Palestinian people, and the information I learned would have been nothing compared to the wisdom I gained in Cyprus. I will never forget this trip, and I will never forget the friends that I made along the way. Not Jewish friends. Not Palestinian friends. Just friends.

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Group hug at the end of the conference

MEDIMUN 2018: Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover


By: Ofri Bohadana

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With UNFICYP spokesperson Mr. Aleem Siddique and force commander Major General Mohammad Humayun Kabir

When my parents drove me to the airport and asked me if I was excited and happy I told them I was. But in reality I could hear my heart beating so fast, and I started to think about the worst thing that could possibly go wrong during this trip. The moment I walked in the airport and saw the group that I was going to be with the next couple of days I let my judgmental nature take over and I immediately tried to distance myself by sitting on side benches. During the security checks I slowly started to bond with some and by the time we got to the airport terminal we were cracking jokes and my judgement was completely gone.

After our flight and long tiring ride to the apartment, we were shown to our rooms. I shared the room with two Muslim girls and the first night was a little rough given the fact that I didn’t understand Arabic. The next day we had breakfast and rushed to the competition.

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Some coffee and orange juice before the conference starts 

When we got to the building we got tags that had our names and the rooms we we’re going to be in during the conferences I got to bond with the Muslim girls and meet new people. Even though the conference was both mentally and physically exhausting, the endless laughs with the girls really got me through it. The next couple of days were defiantly the most meaningful days I’ve had in a long time.

During the weekend we got to meet kids from Jordan and talk about Palestine and its meaning to them. Even though I did not agree with everything that was said, I was open to different point of views and their views mattered to me. I also got to learn a bit more about Islam and its values. I got a chance to know people for who they are.

I think the biggest lesson that I took from this trip is to look at every person as an individual and not judge a book by it’s cover.

Ambassador Shambos: Shape Your Future


Briefing with Ambassador Shambos before the delegation


From February 8-11, Debate for Peace led a delegation of 18 students to the MEDIMUN conference in Nicosia, Cyprus. The delegation was planned with the help of the Embassy of Cyprus in Tel Aviv, and included a pre-trip briefing with Ambassador Shambos. Ambassador Shambos issued the follow remarks to the delegation on the occasion of their return:

Dear DfP participants,
I had the good  fortune to first  meet Steven and your  wonderful team last summer, and learn more about the crucial work done through Debate for Peace,  in bringing together Jewish, Arab, Muslim, Christian students from all over Israel and beyond, through your participation in Model UN conferences.

I was hence delighted to observe that students like yourselves debate, negotiate and aim to resolve the most difficult and pressing challenges in international relations as a perfectly unisoned team.  It is this consiliatory team spirit that gave me the idea that the DfP participates at the Mediterranean Model UN (MEDIMUN) in Cyprus  – something that I’m happy to learn proved to be an amazing experience.

I am  honoured to actively second your cause because you prove that what  you do matters. It matters because  I represent a country of which a third has been invaded and that, after four and a half decades, still experiences the tragic results of foreign invasion and illegal military occupation, which forcibly continues to divide the two communities of Cyprus (Greek and Turkish Cypriots).

I hence understand how important it is to support young people that have the courage to look forward. Young people that break down stereotypes and cause  paradigm shifts.  Youth that builds bridges of understanding. That nourishes what unites us.

I hence salute your strength to be representatives of peace building. You are aware that your job is not easy. Because after all peace is not easy. This is why it is all the more important to support you as you cultivate messages of tolerance and integration, with respect to diversity and pluralism.

In this journey we cannot but stand by your side and do our little bit to help you make true your vision of a better and sustainable future for your generation and beyond .

What is also crucial is that as you grow older, and as from young participants in DfP  you become responsible members of your societies, decision-shapers and decision-makers, you don’t lose sight of the vision you have today. I hope you carry the torch of a different, better reality with you, throughout your lives.

You are the shapers of your future. Make it your own. You have Cyprus ‘ unwavering support.

Thessalia S. Shambos

Members of the delegation in Cyprus

MEDIMUN Thoughts: Join the Movement!

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We’ve started a movement. It wasn’t clear immediately, but it is now. Those are my thoughts after yet another extraordinary delegation, this time to the MEDIMUN conference in Nicosia, Cyprus.

Everywhere we go as a group–students of all faiths and backgrounds– Jews, Muslims, Christians, Israelis and Palestinians, laughing and learning together, we open eyes. In the airport, on the street, on the train, walking around as a group leads to the inevitable question: “Who are you?”

And the answer–concise or detailed depending on the situation, is less important than the question. Because the question means that we’re challenging how people think; breaking stereotypes; changing paradigms. The question itself means that we’ve succeeded in helping people to think of a different, better reality, a world that we’ve managed to create for ourselves as a group.

As impressive as everything else is–high school students competing in high-level diplomatic simulations on challenging topics, often in their second or third languages; meeting diplomats and conflict resolution specialists; tackling the most difficult topics that others are afraid to touch, the most striking thing about our group is that it has morphed into a family–a beautiful, diverse, multiethnic, multireligious and bi-national family. That’s clear to everyone who sees the group. It it confuses observers, hopefully they see how happy everyone is together and are inspired as well. Because at this point we’re a movement, and we’ll only continue to grow. So join us!