The Zajel Youth Exchange program organized a video conference on the Middle East Conflict on the 4th Dec.2003
with the University of Jaume, in Spain. The conference brought together students participating in an MA of Peace and Development Studies at Jaume, with students from An-Najah National University to discuss different aspects of the Israeli occupation in Palestine. The topics mainly focused upon the issues that students in Palestine deal with on a regular basis.
Mr. Sami Al-Kilani, the Director of the Public Relations Department at An- Najah, opened with an introduction to An-Najah, and outlining some of the difficulties that the university community faces, and stressed the Palestine right to education, as clearly defined in international law, and the determination of Palestinians to continue their education, in spite of all obstacles caused by the occupation.
This was followed by a presentation made in Spanish by Professor Musa Abdulmoti from the Journalism Department, outlining the major impacts of the occupation, and especially the hard ships faced during the current intifadah. A number of An-Najah students talked about specific aspects of the occupation that effect students. Mira, an active volunteer in Zajel, talked about her own experience during the Israeli invasions into the city of Nablus, the effects of the curfews, and the Israeli soldiers’ repeated violation of students’ rights. She also talked about the importance of volunteering in programs like Zajel, which give students both the chance to express themselves, as well as to participate in a constructive way to the betterment of Palestinian society.
Another student, Kamilia, addressed the impact of the Israeli check points and road blocks. Tasneem explained the problems with the Israeli settlements on Palestinian farms and villages. Additionally, students talked about the apartheid wall, the damage to the economy, the destruction of homes and olive trees. Finally, the Israeli policy of extra-judicial assassinations was discussed by Rana, whose brother was killed in this way by the Israelis.
Dr. Patrick Daly, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Arts, moderated the conference. In addition, he discussed the impact of the Israeli occupation upon higher education in Palestine. As part of this he talked about the direct closure of schools and universities, as well as the psychological and financial impacts of the siege on students, and faculty members.
The second half of the conference was devoted to an open question and answer session, in which An-Najah students addressed questions by students from Jaume.
The conference ended with a word from the head of the MA of Peace and Development Studies program whom encouraged Palestinian students to apply for two scholarships at their university.