IFLRY Leadership Meets Israeli and Palestinian Liberal Activists
Last week we had the pleasure to host the leadership of IFLRY (International Federation of Liberal Youth) for a week of discussions and liberal dialogue, together with our local Israeli and Palestinian partners.
We met with Lihi Shmueli from our partner Israel Hofsheet (Be Free Israel) learning about their work on state and religion. For example the case of 12 year old Ayala Yamin suing against sex based discrimination. Arik Segal who manages our ME 2.0 network told our guests about his work as international mediator and educator, training liberals on the use of social media to counter fake news and populism.
With the Yesh Atid Youth we had a lively discussion on liberal traditional thought, its foundation in Israel and Jewish teachings, and how it can be innovated and adapted for the 21st century. Furthermore, IFLRY and the Yesh Atid Youth discussed how to improve cooperation among liberals, especially for the benefit of the young generation. Naturally, the current political crisis in Israel triggered by the judicial reform and other challenges was extensively discussed.
In the Arab town of A’rara, where our guests had the pleasure to meet with the team of our partner organization ‘Hasoub’, an Arab NGO promoting tech entrepreneurship in the Arab society in Israel. We had a tour in their newly established Innovation Hub, the Hasoub Garage, and learned about their long-term vision of becoming a powerhouse and idea factory for tech and social innovation in Israeli Arab society.
With CEO Rabea and his team of impressive wonder-women, our guests discussed the correlation between liberal values and entrepreneurship and exchanged best practices regarding building up influential and meaningful networks and brainstormed on how to keep youth activists and volunteers engaged and committed to the cause over a long period of time. Our international guests from IFLRY also used the opportunity to learn about the perspective of Israeli-Palestinians on the current political situation and the conflict. As Tuesday was a ‘day of resistance’ our guests had the chance to witness on the ground the ongoing demonstrations against the government’s proposed judicial overhaul.
In Jerusalem, we visited the Yad Vashem Museum, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, which was a extraordinarily shocking reminder for what can happen when ideology dehumanizes people abandoning human decency. It also reminded them that they as the next generation of activists have a duty to protect democracy.
At dinner with Abeer Natsheh and Rana Qutteineh, two women entrepreneurs from East Jerusalem, the IFLRY delegation learned about the main challenges and opportunities facing entrepreneurs, especially in East Jerusalem and about aspects of the current political developments within the Palestinian community.
The highlight of IFLRY’s visit to Palestine was our joint workshop in Ramallah. A group of 20 active young Palestinians from our partners’ circle and youth networks took part in this workshop where they met and engaged with like-minded active participants in discussions and exchanging ideas with the aim to build a youth empowerment network. The workshop provided a platform for networking and exploring the liberal agenda in Palestine.
Participants also learned how to build networks in their communities equipping them with the necessary tools and knowledge to create positive change through using effective communication techniques. Going through Qalandia checkpoint our guests also got to experience the everyday challenges facing Palestinians traveling between East Jerusalem and Ramallah.
Finally, we accompanied the IFLRY team on a tour to Bethlehem where they visited the Banksy Walled-Off Hotel and the Nativity Church. We then ended the tour with a visit to Wi’am Center, the Palestinian Conflict Transformation Center, where director Zoughbi Alzoughbi gave them some insight into the political situation and briefed them on the main challenges facing Palestinian youth. They also learned about the Center’s mission to promote peacebuilding and empower community members as agents of change. Back in Jerusalem we met with Mahmoud Khweis, another member of the ME 2.0 network. Mahmoud is an entrepreneur and a consultant, giving our guests further insights on the situation of Palestinian entrepreneurs in Palestine and Israel.
In the current climate of conflict and uncertainties, we remain committed to fostering dialogue and promoting international cooperation supporting Liberalism worldwide. IFLRY as an international liberal youth organization has great potential the help this cause. We are excited to see what projects and cooperation will come of the connections made during this visit.