By Joyce Ajlouny, Ramallah Friends Schools Director
In October, while the international press was focusing on the controversy that arose with President Abbas’s United Nations bid for Palestinian statehood and the emerging debate, students at the Ramallah Friends School decided to hold their own mock United Nations conference. Building on their experiences attending several Model UN (MUN) conferences worldwide, our students planned extensively in preparation for the first Palestinian MUN for high school students. With the Israeli military restrictions on the entry of international and regional visitors, participants had to be limited to those from the West Bank. Students from Gaza were also denied entry to Ramallah. One hundred and thirty students from various schools participated in a three-day conference. Each student was assigned a country and the issues to be discussed were shared well in advance. They therefore came prepared to defend their assigned countries’ position on many issues ranging from demilitarization, the famine in Somalia and the UN bid for Palestinian statehood. Most ironic was that one of our students was assigned to represent the State of Israel. With that came an incredible yet very enlightening experiment in role playing and conflict resolution. International press quickly caught on to this timely activity and several covered the event demonstrating the potential of youth to go against all odds to voice their opinion about the legitimacy of their demand for statehood and their inalienable rights for independence and freedom. Their voice was heard loud and clear. You can watch a short video online.