This month, students from seven cities around Israel traveled to the US to compete in the first ever Debate for Peace delegation to Johns Hopkins MUN. The students competed in one of the largest MUNs in the world, with about 1,500 students in dozens of committees. As a delegation, Debate for Peace represented Egypt in a number of committees, as well as a member of the British Parliament, the Interior Minister of Nigeria, and the Foreign Minister of Egypt during its 1973 war with Israel.
The students spent weeks preparing for the conference, including a study day at Tel Aviv University, before meeting in Iksal for the pre-trip briefing. In addition to the competition, the delegation included several days in NYC and DC, for meetings with NGOs, community leaders, and diplomats.
In NYC, the delegation heard from Sheikh Musa Drammeh, researcher Thomas Christiane, and Columbia University professor Dr. Page Fortna. They also visited the UN headquarters, and met with the US Mission to the UN, UNICEF, and UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC). In DC they visited the US State Department, US Institute of Peace, the Project on Extremism, and the Swiss Embassy, as well as enjoying a discussion with members of Muslims for Progressive Values-DC.
The delegation also met with members of the Syrian Jewish community in New Jersey, and attempted to reach an acceptable Israeli-Palestinian framework for peace. In Baltimore, in addition to enjoying a high-level, international MUN conference, the delegation attended Juma’a prayers and a khutba sermon led by Imam Ismaeel Malik, and shabbat prayers and dinner at the historic B’nai Israel synagogue.
Following the conference, the delegation had a layover in Amsterdam, where they visited the Anne Frank House, and then traveled to the Hague, for a discussion on peace negotiations at the foreign ministry of the Netherlands, and then met with Youth Peace Initiative leaders for a discussion on grassroots peace.
Maayan Dahan, from Hadassim school in Even Yehuda, was one of the participants. She told Diplomacy that the trip was “amazing! All the meetings and the people we met were fun and enlightening, and the conference was a blast, despite not winning I learned so much, and the general vibe of the delegation was just so fun, everyone connected really well with the other.” Bashar Shalabi, from Iksal high school, said that this was “a great experience to spend 3 days debating with 84 native speakers.” Nadiv Brenner Ballin, from Sulam Tzur high school added that “due to the significant people and places we visited on the delegation, this experience will stay with me for a long time.”
Debate for Peace thanks the many wonderful individuals and organizations who made this delegation a success, the various NGOs, diplomats and communities who met with the delegation, the JHUMUN staff for the enriching academic experience, Johns Hopkins students for hosting the delegation in Baltimore, and the Abu Odeh family for hosting the pre-trip meeting. A very special thanks to Imam Ismaeel Malik for helping lead the delegation, and to Jake Morris for helping make the delegation happen. For more information please see DebateforPeace.org