Seminar for Student Activists

Seminar for Student Activists, Givat Haviva, April 7-8, 2006
The seminar was an initiative of students and coordinators from Mahapach to create a political, ideological platform of civic engagement, for learning about and expanding on different social issues, for considering new horizons of student action, and for establishing ties between various student groups. The seminar was coordinated by Shemi from Mahapach's state-wide team, aided by Itai (Florentine coordinator) and Shirley (former coordinator and “granny” at present). The seminar was led in practice by students from all Mahapach communities, some of which took part in the team that designed the program.
A total of sixty-three students participated in the seminar, most of them from Mahapach, but also from other organizations and associations (Green Action, Green Course, Commitment to Peace and Social Justice, Women’s Coalition for Just Peace, New Profile, CEGAS - The Committee for Educational Guidance for Arab Students) as well as other students who are not formally members of any organization.
Seminar structure:
The seminar opened with a getting acquainted session in which the seminar objectives, its preparation process, its structure, and so forth were laid out.
The seminar was composed of five sessions that were dedicated to various workshops conducted simultaneously (3 to 4 parallel workshops at each time) - three sessions on Friday and two on Saturday.
Workshops implemented:
Multi-culturalism -
Itai Meshel and Schachar Agami
Urban planning
Badria Biromi-Kandaleft, Director, Link to the Environment
Is socialism good for the weakened classes? -
Alon (Florentine)
Internet as a tool for protest and social change -
Shirley Caravani
Militarism in education - Denia, New Profile, Kiryat Yovel
The separation fence - Ya’ar (Katamonim) - an interactive workshop with films, simulations, conversations and representations
Women trafficking  - Yul (Florentine)
Palestinian-Jewish dialogue- Amani (Tamra) and Yona (Florentine)
Learning disabilities - an inside look, Hila (Kiryat Shmona)
A space for Palestinian students -identity and belonging
The Wisconsin Plan and the struggle against it -
Ronit Shimoni, Ashkelon
Do social organizations make an impact and how?
Naomi and Doron (Kiryat Yovel)
The relation between civil society organizations and party politics, and our place in this story?
Educational methods
- Abir (Yafia), Maha (Tamra)
Civilian activities, direct, non-violent actions and the struggle against the separationfence in Bilin - Muhamed Hatib, member of theBilin Popular Committee.
Did not take place due to the closure
Education and poverty -
Amir and Yaron (Florentine)
Schools in the neighborhoods, tracking, and the connection of economics and education
The mentally ill - Yafit and Adi (Florentine)
Teenagers and learning -
Ariel (Katamonim) and Ofri (Kiryat Yovel)
The Law of Return Vs. The Right of Return -
Nihad Boquai (Badil) -
Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, Bethlehem
Gynecology without gynecologists -
Shani (Katamonim)
Identity and status - mapping where we are in this story and discussion -
Yonni and Moshe -Mahapach grannies
The workshops surfaced a great amount of knowledge and issues of injustice and various struggles against them (the fence, militarism, education, feminism, space, Wisconsin, etc.), and generated different reactions among the students. Towards the end of the seminar we conducted four workshops on these subjects, which were future-oriented and focused on the question - what do we do next? How do we continue from this seminar onwards?
The following is a summary of these workshops:
Summary sessions - workshops that produced new projects:
  1. Wisconsin Plan group:
The team decided to meet on Sunday, 16.4.06 (during Passover holiday), at 10:00 to get an impression of what goes on at the Employment Center in Ashkelon, meet with people participating in the program, study the issue, and later assemble and discuss how to proceed.
An attempt should be made to link between the Ashkelon struggle and the Jerusalem struggle.
Students are in a different position than participants in the Wisconsin Plan in their ability to take on struggles and promote ideas the latter cannot pursue out of fear and concern of losing their monthly stipend.
Many students expressed their interest in joining protests and other activities in the future.
Ronit Shimoni - 050-7803162
Shirley Caravani - 054-5217363
  1. Palestinian-Jewish Partnership group
In the long run: a more general change, leverage the potential of a movement comprising Palestinian and Jewish students and realize it by conducting meetings, creating partnerships and cooperations that do not exist today on the community level. Currently there is no connection.
Proposed activities for next year:
  • meetings between youth from the Jewish and Palestinian communities for joint activities and seminars (with Baladna).
  • summer camp for Jewish and Palestinian children. A joint team will be formed to work on the content and design a plan.
In the short run: towards Independence Day and the Nakba Day we set a date for a study tour and social gathering in Tamra and the uprooted villages in its vicinity (Damun) accompanied by refugees from the village. The tour and gathering is intended for students and residents from all communities.
Tour date: 19.5.2006
A preparatory meeting for the organizing team has been set for Sunday, 30.4.2006 at 17:00 at the offices of Mahapach and Zochrot - 61 Eben Gvirol St., Tel Aviv.
Meeting coordinator: Amir Boltzman (Florentine) -
In addition, Ya’ar invites everyone to join the “Actions Against the Fence Week”
For details: Ya’ar Dagan Peretz (Katamonim) - 054-4584477
  1. Feminism and Women workshop
The discussion centered on ways to introduce the feminist discourse that developed in the workshop into Mahapach on several levels:
On the student level - daily summary sessions, study days, etc. Establish in every community a group of students with or without residents.
On the residents level - women empowerment groups and discourse between students and residents
On the youth level - groups of teenage girls, etc
On the national level - there should be a national women’s team that will lead the feminist discourse, think of and develop new, large-scale projects. The participants expressed their desire to talk about the practical aspects of feminism.
Establish a feminist men's group (if they so wish).
Begin on the regional level.
Conduct workshops on women trafficking in all the communities.
For more details:
Julia Krakowa (Florentine) - 0545716567
  1. New Directions  
Different needs and directions were mentioned:
  • Expand and develop Mahapach activities in terms of meetings between students from the various communities.
  • Formulate a General Principles document for the activities of Mahapach that will constitute the ideological and organizational framework to which everyone can relate. Phrasing a common agenda. This should be done in as wide a frame as possible because the process itself is important. The students should be a more significant component of the decision making body in Mahapach. It was decided to distribute the strategic plan of Mahapach written in the past (will be posted on the Mahapach forum) and refer to it as a possible basis.
  • Set up a nationwide team of students that will visit and circulate between communities on different occasions and events to study more models and ideas. The idea came up in this weekend seminar.
  • Communication means: founding a national newspaper for Mahapach that will be distributed to the students and residents (in Arabic, Hebrew, and Russian)
  • Connection between the communities on the national level and meetings with students from other political organizations and bodies - open seminars.
  • Turn the existing managing body that is the national link in Mahapach, into a body comprising residents and students.
For more information and organizing these activities:
Yaron Sayun (Florentine) - 0778220055;
Yona Adelman - 03-5163765; 0545898176
Seminar evaluation:
The seminar evaluation reviews several points in time while considering a number of parameters:
During the seminar itself we conducted two open feedbacks. The first was on Friday evening after four sessions (three of them elective workshops) in order to hear reactions to the seminar structure, its schedule, planning, etc, in real-time, and so as to examine whether to proceed with it as planned. The feedbacks were highly positive; the complaints were that it was not possible to attend several workshops simultaneously and that workshops were not repeated.
The second feedback was conducted at the end of the seminar. The main points it surfaced are:
  1. Too many workshops conducted in parallel.
  2. Conditions, interest, availability and mix were far better than in the first seminar.
  3. The seminar was not imposed from above but generated from the field and answered the needs of the students.
  4. The seminar gave a stronger feeling of connection to “Mahapach” and of being part of something wider than a day and a community, something more significant.
  5. The level of the contents is very high and provides new knowledge.
  6. Often there is no true openness in the discussions, we are liberal only towards those who think like us, we should also be able to hear other opinions.
  7. Rosa: I thoroughly enjoyed it, more than any other seminar, very refreshing and influential.
  8. It was excellent! Really pumped in new energies and liveliness and a sense of belonging.
Further to the seminar - an evaluation meeting will be held with the student team that organized the seminar. I will send a summary of the discussion to everyone. A larger scale evaluation, to a large extent the more significant evaluation regarding the seminar objectives, will be about the various initiatives students suggested in the seminar (as mentioned above). Needless to say that the enrichment students gained through this seminar is a worthy achievement in itself because, as we see it, students who are more aware and more political with a broad world view do a better job in the communities and organizations in which they are active.
Seminar achievements:
There were several noticeable achievements:
  • A  large number of participants
  • Substantive amount of involvement and thought in preparation for the seminar invested by students.
  • Relations that developed between students, between the national team and the students and altogether relations at levels that did not exist before.
  • Strong sense of togetherness. Students said their feeling that they have something to give is acknowledged and their opinion is taken into account.
  • Considerable expansion of the knowledge in areas new to the students (militarism, right of return, separation fence, Wisconsin plan, feminism, education).
  • Varied and enriching line of topics.
  • Empowerment for students who showed high involvement on their part thus creating a high level of partnership.
  • The seminar created interest in continuation and in creating new connections, and for deepening the relations between activist students on the national level.
  • The pre-seminar process
  • Politicization of students who volunteer in the learning groups.
  • A great feeling of success, of seminality, of “something significant happened here”.
My sincerest appreciation and thanks,
Shemi Shabbat, “Mahapach”
Seminar coordinator