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The second annual BASHAERMUN conference was held in Sakhnin on Thursday, November 8, with 250 students from 35 cities and schools participating. The conference theme was “Inequalities,” and students addressed issues relating to racism, discrimination, educational and socioeconomic gaps in six different committees. The conference was the second MUN conference of the year run by Debate for Peace, a US Embassy supported program. The program brings a diverse group of students together to debate, meet distinguished guests and discuss current world affairs in English.  The goal of the program is to empower young leaders to find alternatives to conflict and hatred and to help them build a dialogue across their differences.


As part of the US Embassy Speaker Program, Stephanie Baric, a consultant with UNICEF, attended the conference and observed the students during their debates before addressing them during the awards ceremony. Baric is a relief and development professional with almost 25 years of international experience working in the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans on programs focused on gender equality, education and child protection. Drawing on her experience, Baric spoke to the students about the importance of knowing one’s rights and respecting diversity and the rights of others.


Baric was impressed by the delegates and was particularly moved by the maturity and civil discourse in the advanced committee who examined the nation-state law and eventually managed to pass a resolution. She told Diplomacy that “The MUN program supported by the US Embassy is developing future Israeli leaders by providing opportunities for Arab and Jewish students to seek, through discussion, negotiation, and debate, solutions for promoting human rights including equality and non-discrimination in their communities and society."


The six committees at the conference dealt with migration and integration, gender equality, LGBTQ rights, education and socio-economic gaps, inclusive work environments, and Israel’s recently passed nation-state law and the status of minorities in Israel. Nearly 200 students participated in a Model UN conference for the first time, with a smaller number of experienced delegates.


After speeches, debates and intense negotiations, the committees voted on their initiatives. In the advanced committee, a mock Knesset simulation, the resolution which passed restored Arabic to equal status with Hebrew, called for efforts to promote social cohesion, educational programs to bridge between different communities within Israel, and national service for all citizens to perform.


During the awards ceremony, the MUN and conference director Mr. Salah Fokra thanked the participants and the MUN club who had helped orchestrate the conference, as well as the US Embassy for its support of the program. The principal of the school, Mr. Ameer Haj, expressed his own appreciation and admiration for the work of the students in running a successful MUN conference for the second year in a row. Secretary-General Yafa Nassar thanked the students for having come and taken the courageous step of joining MUN, while Shaymaa Abo Raya performed on the violin for the audience.


Finally, it was time for the awards. In the UNGA committee, Ryan Abu-Khadra, Rawan Amer, and Banan Shadafni won awards. In UNESCO, Saeed Salem, Subhy Affara, and Wajd Mahajni won awards. In the HRC, the awards went to Leo Grossman, Stav Peretz, and Jolian Azzam. In UN Women, Eyas Asli, Adele Stoller, and Salih Amer won awards. In the ILO, Amy Fisher, Haneen Shadafneh and Aviv Trumper were recognized. And in the most advanced group, the model Knesset, Baraa Massalha, Chai Margalit, and Khadeeja Nukaty received the awards.


BashaerMUN was part of the Debate for Peace MUN series, as an Interfaith Encounter group supported by the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv. The next Debate for Peace delegation takes place November 16-18 at Oxford MUN, to be followed by a conference in Kosovo in December.


For more information about future events, please see the website here: https://debateforpeace.org/upcoming-events/

Photos: BashaerMUN