|Statewide Seminar for Student Activists, Nazareth, April 11-12, 2007|
The statewide seminar for student activists was a joint initiative of the Academy-Community Partnership for Social Change and Mahapach-Taghir. Its goals were to bring together student activists from across the country, and provide them a meaningful setting for study of social issues and for the creation of associations and joint actions.
Over 150 students participated in the seminar, students from 25 universities and colleges, active in 45 social change organizations and projects.
List of organizations and programs: Ibn Al-Nakab – Committee of Arab Students in the Negev, Everett Social Justice Fellows Program, Achoti, Itach-Ma'aki, Al Rabata, Amnesty, Baladna – Association for Arab Youth, Sawa, Bat Shalom, Community Advocacy, Rape Crisis Centers, New Profile, Community Art Course in Bezalel Academy for Art and Design, Street Law – Legal Clinic for Representation of Youth at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem Open House, the Association for Educational Institutions, the Center for Educational Entrepreneurship, "Halom" Student Group, Negev Institute for Leadership, Ma'an – Workers Advice Center, SHATIL, the Social Economic Academy, the Jewish-Arab Center, Alternative Information Center, Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Salon Mazal, Daila, Committee Against House Demolitions, Social Justice and Education for Peace Program – Kibbutzim College of Education, Arab Movement for Renewal, Awakening Movement, Yedid, Horesh, Hebrew University Student Exchange Program, Windows – Channel for Communication, Green Course, Greenpeace, Rabbis for Human Rights, Mossawa Center, Machsom Watch, Hebrew University Social Involvement Unit, Ossim Shalom, Alternative Youth Summer Camp, Kama Community, Coalition of Women for Peace, Kol Kore – Student for Social Action and Engagement, Human Rights in Israeli Society course at the Hebrew University, Issawiya Community Center, Community Theatre Program at the School of Visual Theatre, Gender and Human Rights course at the Hebrew University.
The opening plenary session included an opening address by Nidaa Khaliliya Khatib, statewide coordinator of Mahapach-Taghir, Dr. Daphna Golan-Agnon, Director of the Academy-Community Partnership for Social Change, and Khuloud Aderis and Tami Schneider, co-directors of Mahapach-Taghir, who introduced the organizations' work and objectives. Their opening words in both Hebrew and Arabic constituted an accommodating, egalitarian opening, contributing to the seminar's objectives.
The seminar consisted of 37 workshops, held throughout the different time units. During each time unit 6 parallel sessions were held, and students were able to choose in which workshop they wish to participate. Further to the workshops, study tours were held to two Palestinian villages uprooted in 1948, and movie space was organized for viewing and discussion of documentaries. The workshops discussed issues such as: education, media, environment and ecology, Israeli society, economy, and feminism. About half of the workshops were facilitated by students, while the other half was facilitated by representatives of social change organizations and faculty members. Jewish and Palestinian partnership was emphasized in the seminar, expressed in the issues discussed in the workshops, and in the participation of Palestinian civil society organizations.
Wednesday, April 11th:
Thursday, April 12th:
In the concluding sessions of the seminar students met in small groups according to location, and thought together about joint action.
Students studying in the southern part of the country, considered the need for enhancing awareness among students and residents to the situation of different populations – excluded populations living in poverty, and whose rights are often violated. Students expressed their desire to encourage "collective action for existence" as opposed to "co-existence".
Students from the north emphasized activities related to memory. They suggested holding an alternative memorial day, and organizing a tour to an uprooted village. Further, students spoke of establishing a dynamic group that will choose to work upon different issues, study them, and organize a specific activity. Some issues raised for possible action were tours to the Separation Barrier, acquaintance through life ceremonies, and joining of the campaign against hazardous quarries active next to Palestinian villages in the north.
Students from the center of the country spoke of action relating to the meaning of language, and its importance in bridging processes, and in forming relations among individuals and groups. Further, students spoke about the need to examine what motivates persons to act, and thinking about where each person undergoes processes of oppression, and where he or she oppresses others. Additional ideas were to create an alternative learning center and street stalls that will provide information about social injustice and workshops and encounters open to the public.
Students from Jerusalem spoke about three main areas of action that they wish to follow. One group discussed Jerusalem day – holding an alternative Jerusalem day and connecting this to other events related to 40 years occupation. The group suggested establishing a learning group about the Nakba, in which students would be trained to guide study tours in Jerusalem. Another group discussed the issue of house demolitions. Students suggested holding activities in the Knesset, and joining other student groups at the university that would want to address this issue. A third group discussed their desire to establish an internet forum for active students to distribute information about events and possible cooperation.
In the closing plenary session students presented the ideas raised in the regional groups and future ways for action.
Students completed evaluations that expressed satisfaction and interest in the diverse workshops and issues discussed at the seminar, and in the facilitation and organization of the seminar. Participants noted that the seminar will influence their social action, and asked that the seminars in the future provide more tools for forming a basis for joint action among organizations.
One of the students added, "The great enthusiasm among the students was what caught my attention. I felt all the energies, eagerness, and strong desire in each and every student to take an active part in the seminar, both in the planning of the units, the content of the workshops, coordination of the transportation, etc. So many students coming from so many places with so much motivation and one goal: change!"
We hope that the seminar will be one of a series of meetings, associations and activities that will continue in the future. It is our goal that the seminar will serve as a source of growth of additional frameworks for joint learning and action. We wish to make the seminar an annual event that will provide a setting for student activist discourse and the formation of political connections among diverse social issues.