Zejel Youth Exchange Program organized a video conference on the Middle East conflict with Maine University in
America on Tuesday, 27thApril. The conference was organized to encourage dialogue between Palestinian and American students and to narrow the gap between their perspectives.
Fifty Palestinian students and a similar number of American students and instructors at Maine University, attended conference which focused on the Israeli occupation and its impact on the Palestinian academic process; the psychological and financial impacts; the war against Iraq; the events of 11th of September and the American elections.
A French delegation attended and one of its members spoke about her impressions of the suffering of the Palestinian
people. An American professor teaching at Najah described his experience of his life in Palestine, in particular about the disruption caused by the numerous roadblocks and the violent treatment of Palestinians seeking to go to pass through to go work or to school.
Palestinian students clarified some of the biased language used by the media about the situation: for instance, Palestinian resistance fighters were called terrorists while Israeli soldiers who killed Palestinian civilians and children were just “soldiers”; the apartheid wall was celled a security fence. Students and instructors of Maine University asked questions about peace possibilities, the Road Map, America’s image, and the Iraq war.
Palestinian students asked questions about the American media, stereotypes, the American elections, and the
Palestinian right of resistance.
The video conference lasted for two hours. Both sides showed flexibility and maturity in debate and discussion. Prof. Edward Jadalah, the Coordinator of the video conference in Maine University, expressed his thanks for this exceptional opportunity. He said to Palestinian students: “You are insightful and honest people who have clearly presented the Palestinian cause with respect and dignity. I was extremely proud and appreciative of your questions and knowledge.”
This conference is the 4th in less than a year. Zajel organizes such activities to narrow the gap between Palestinian students and their fellows abroad. It is one of Zajel`s goals to show the Palestinian perspective and the Palestinian on what is happening in the Middle East.
PS Richard, an English volunteer in Nablus, says: “It was a good discussion. I think you should make a video film with a tough editor in which students tell the stories and make the comments which they made at the conference. On the film they would have more time to describe what happens and to develop their ideas.”