In the hopes of helping narrow the gap between the Palestinian and international community, Zajel Youth Exchange Program organized a video conference with students of Monash University in Australia. Students from both universities were able to discuss the political and human dimensions of the Israeli occupation as well as the prospects for peace. Some of other topics that were discussed included: the impact of roadblocks, sieges, incursions, the apartheid wall and curfews on the Palestinian people.
The conference started with a brief introduction about Palestine, the university, and the current uprising, Dr. Abdula Kreem Daraghmenh from the English Department followed this introduction with some brief comments about the effects of the occupation on studies at the university, and offered some starting points for the discussion.
The next presentation was given by Vanessa Edward, an international volunteer with Zajel. She discussed the current situation in the city, describing how the Israeli government’s current policy forbidding the Palestinian Security Forces from carrying weapons or wearing their uniforms has actually helped create a situation where there is no rule of law, thus allowing militant groups to become more powerful. She argued that though the Israeli authorities have stated that they want peace, their current actions are creating a situation which in fact precipitates and perpetuates violence.
The Australian students asked their Palestinian fellows questions about the peace process negotiations, Camp David Negotiations, Oslo Agreement, the right to education, war against Lebanon and the current Intifada.
It should be mentioned that Zajel has organized many video conferences with American, Belgian, Spanish and British universities in the past few years. This is actually the second time it has organized such a conference with Monash University, The idea behind this project is to overcome the obstacles imposed against Palestinians as a result of the siege that prohibits Palestinians to have normal face-to-face interaction with international students. Such events allow Palestinian students to express their feelings and their points of view regarding the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.
The Palestinian students expressed their gratitude toward Monash University and the Australian students who made this conference possible. Zajel Youth Exchange Program hopes many more positive interactions with Australian students will be possible in the future.