Zajel Participates in the Euro-Mediterranean Youth Parliament

 


 

Approximately 100 participants from 38 countries met at the first Euro-Mediterranean Youth Parliament, from May 26th to June 3rd, in Berlin, with the aim of practicing parliamentary manners discussing political and social issues beyond cultural and geographic borders. In addition to the many issues explored, participants were further introduced to various cultures, through events such as the Euro-Mediterranean Village and the Euro-Med Concert. The youths’ efforts resulted in a set of resolutions that were presented to the stakeholders during the last day of the general assembly.

 

Zajel Youth Exchange Program was represented by Safa Darwazeh and Jehad Fadah as part of the Palestinian delegation. Safa worked with the Committee on Economic and Social Affairs, looking at such questions as: "What is the economic, political and social impact of Globalization? What role, if any, should national governments play in responding to its impact?"

 


 

Jehad Fadah worked with the Committee on Youth Affairs, looking at the questions: "How do young people in Europe and the Mediterranean perceive each other? Is there a need to develop a better understanding between the cultures and peoples of Europe and the Mediterranean and if so, how?"

 

Additional to the academic and political discussions, the Palestinian delegation expressed the culture of Palestine at the Euro-Med concert, singing songs from Palestine, and at the Euro-Med Village, where amidst the products of the other participating countries, the Palestinian corner displayed multi-colored embroideries, Nablusi sweets and soap, books, flags, and foods of Palestine. In particular, the Palestinian Hatta (Kuffiya) was extremely popular, and by the end of the day nearly all of the Euro-Med participants sported the checkered scarf. Gathered together, Arab youths from different regions sang in Arabic while the audience listened attentively and admiring the warmth and affection amongst the youths. 

Despite the diversity among the participants, Zajel representatives were able to interact and find much in common with youths of like ages and respected the differences, and believed that without understanding one another they won't be able to live in peace. One of the most significant aspects of the event was meeting other Arab youths: together.

 

Further, the cooperation and good natured behavior is invaluable in countering the fear of Arabs and the Islam phobia that is emerging in Europe, and the representation of Palestine in a positive and beautiful way resulted in many new friendships and a growing number of people newly concerned about the Palestinian cause. Zajel participants talked about the importance of historical and holy places that are in Occupied Palestine, among other countries, are not respected: historical and holy buildings in the old city of Nablus have been demolished in numerous attacks by the Israeli army. In Jerusalem, the dome of the rock, and Al-Aqsa, parts not only of Palestinian culture but also of Arab Muslim culture, have been repeatedly attacked. These observations were met with applause from the participants.


 

Being in Berlin, visiting historical sites there and participating in a parliament in which one of the world powers made decisions which affected and shaped the lines of history was a unique and different experience. Seeing the area where the Berlin wall once stood, that wall which divided Berlin into two sides and caused people to live in despair, gave the participants hope that one day too, the wall dividing Palestine would remain as only a few rocks, a monument to the weakness of human beings and the strength of perseverance and hope.

 

The Euro-Mediterranean meeting took place in collaboration with representatives of the youth initiatives European Youth Forum, SALTO and Euro-Med Youth Platform, as well as the German Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Goethe-Institute and the Heinz Schwarzkopf Foundation in cooperation with the European Commission and the Anna Lindh Foundation for the dialogue between cultures.

 

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