200 students from 40 cities and towns participated in the TamraMUN conference on Thursday December 14th in the northern city of Tamra. The conference theme was Independence, with delegates addressing the Catalonian, Kurdish, Kosovan, and Palestinian movements for independence, as well as the topic of micronations. The closing ceremony included speeches, candlelighting, and of course the awards.
The conference was the second of the year to be run by Debate for Peace, a program of the Interfaith Encounters Association supported by the US Embassy. The conference was hosted at the Eshcol Payis Tamra, and run in conjunction with QSchools Tamra.
Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Druze, and Black Hebrew students participated, coming from 40 different schools, both Israeli and Palestinian. They represented a range of countries in six different committees, and spent 5 intensive hours addressing their respective conflicts before arriving at consensus-based votes.
After the lively debates and negotiations, and a break for dinner, it was time for the closing ceremony. The ceremony opened with a flag display featuring students from the different schools carrying their country’s flags. As the conference coincided with the third night of Hanukkah, candles were then lit by Jewish, Black Hebrew, Christian, Druze, and Muslim students.
Mr. Jonathan Berger, Cultural Attache at the US Embassy, greeted the students and thanked everyone for their involvement and hard work, in a pre-recorded message. Mr. Abdalrahman Zidany, the principal of the Gifted and Talented School, welcomed the students for coming, congratulated them on their accomplishments, and thanked the teachers and organizers for helping to make the conference become a reality.
The mayor of Tamra, Dr. Sohel Diab, gave a rousing speech in Arabic and Hebrew, telling the maximum capacity crowd that they shouldn’t rely on current leaders to bring change, but rather that they should be the change themselves, using the strength of youth initiatives to bring peace and understanding between the different religions and communities. His challenge was met with enthusiastic applause and cheering. Dr. Dalia Fadila, founder of QSchools for teaching English and Human Development, provided encouragement for students in the importance of continuing the educational journey, and thanked the various partners in this initiative.
After a musical interlude, Zenab Abu Romy, the MUN teacher in Tamra and the TamraMUN organizer spoke about her experiences seeing the conference to fruition, and what it meant for MUN in Tamra. Yafa Nassar and Aviv Hanuka, two Debate for Peace students, spoke on behalf of the Interfaith Encounters Association about the impact of their own interfaith experiences, including visiting synagogues and mosques for the first time. Mr. Mohamed Abu Alhija spoke on behalf of Tamra’s youth department, offering words of encouragement for future endeavors and partnerships.
Adj Marshall spoke on behalf of the Jerusalem Peacebuilders, calling up students from a dozen schools who had been selected for spots at the Jerusalem Peacebuilders summer leadership programs in the US: Avi, Aviv, Baraah, Yafa, Fitnat, Gadi, Layle, Lea, Lucy, Maayan, Moriyah, Nicholas, Sally, Sharehan, and Stav.
Finally it was time to give out the awards. In the Catalonia committee, Amit Biton and Tiffany Rashed were chosen Outstanding Delegate, and Gadi Isaacs was chosen Best Delegate. In the Palestine committee, Ben Peled and Fitnat Waked were chosen Outstanding Delegate, and Lucy Goldman as the Best Delegate. In the Kosovo committee, Maayan Dahan and Forat Nasser were chosen Outstanding Delegate, and Nicholas Levy was Best Delegate. In the Kurdistan committee, Roy Haas and Naima Dallak were the Outstanding Delegates, and Sally Mustafa was the Best Delegate. In the Historical committee, Chai Margalit and Tal Tzipori were chosen Outstanding Delegate and Shahd Abu Safat was the Best Delegate. And in the most advanced group, the micronations committee, Adam Kremer and Noam Williams were chosen Outstanding Delegate and Oren Sitton was the Best Delegate.
The next Debate for Peace conference will be QASMUN on February 27 in Baqa al-Gharabiya. That will follow the second MUN delegation abroad, to MEDIMUN in Cyprus. For more information, see debateforpeace.wordpress.com