Jewish and Arab students and educators from 14 cities participate in the MUNOM conference in Malmo as part of the Debate for Peace delegation
The first Model UN delegation since February 2020 recently returned from the MUNOM conference in Malmo, Sweden. In total 14 students and 3 teachers, coming from 14 different cities, participated in the Debate for Peace delegation to MUNOM, hosted by Borgarskolen Malmo.
Due to the challenges of the last year and a half, it was the first MUN for several delegates, and most of the students only met one another for the first time at Ben Gurion airport. Despite that, the group meshed quickly, highlighting the importance of fully integrated Jewish-Arab delegations, with Druze, Jewish and Muslim students working together.
At the conference, the delegates engaged in an intense 3.5 days of debates and negotiations, representing countries including China, Russia, the US, Iran, Myanmar, Zambia, Palestine, Turkey and the Netherlands. Among the topics discussed at the conference: Bioweapons; fair treatment of refugees and elimination of discrimination; cooperation in outer space; women’s rights in Afghanistan under the Taliban, and preserving cultural heritage in East Africa.
In addition to the conference, the delegation hosted discussion circles on the topics of racism and identity, together with local students, and engaged in several meetings with local, municipal and national initiatives to address anti-Semitism and Islamaphobia. On Friday evening the group held shabbat prayer services and qiddush together.
At the closing ceremony on Saturday afternoon, Alessio Cornacchia (Ben Zvi High School, Qiryat Ono) won Best First-time delegate in the GA 1 committee, Shahar Tabenkin (Rishonim school, Herzliya) won Outstanding Delegate of the GA3 committee, and Shahaf Navon (Ben Gurion school, Petah Tiqva) won Best Delegate of the General Assembly plenary.
Emma Konig (Hadassim school, Even Yehuda) said that the delegation experience was “life changing”: “In one week, I developed really strong connections with people from diverse backgrounds that I had never met before, and experienced some unforgettable times with them. This trip gave me new friends, a new perspective, and memories I’ll not forget in a lifetime.” Mohamed Abu Rkik (Neve Midbar, Nitzana) added “I was happy to participate in this special experience, it is fun to meet different people and learn from them and about them.” Hala Keadn (Al-Andalus School, Baqa Al-Gharbia) explained that she "learned how to accept the thinking and differences of others, even if it was not the same as I thought. I made new friends and learned to listen first before I judge anyone. The difference is something special. I have a lot to learn, so I want to thank everyone who contributed to this special experience."
Elene Segal, who accompanied the delegation as the MUN coordinator from the Hand in Hand school, Jerusalem, remarked that it was “a memorable experience with remarkable youth who rose to the occasion at every opportunity.” Her colleague Alaa Yassin from Almanara school in Jisr Azarqa, stressed that the trip "supported delegates' personal growth, triggers self-confidence and self- esteem", and that "MUN offers students’ skills they wouldn't otherwise gain in a high school setting, it gives students an opportunity to develop writing skills, public speaking, teamwork and leadership skills.
Debate for Peace director Steven Aiello expressed gratitude to the MUNOM staff and Malmo Borgarskola principal Martin Roth for hosting the conference, and to Peter Vig and Adrian Kaba for being the catalysts of the delegation.
Photo credits: Alaa Yassin and Elene Segal