Solutions Not Sides
St Mary’s Sixth Form students have been exploring the Israeli-Palestinian situation — one of the world's longest-running and most controversial conflicts.
Last week, in the final session of this short course, they were joined by two representatives from Solutions Not Sides — an educational charity working to encourage understanding of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict by bringing people together from all perspectives to work towards lasting solutions and peace.
During the session, the students had the privilege of being joined on Zoom by two Palestinian and Israeli student peace activists, speaking from Nablus and Jaffa respectively. Amal from East Jerusalem, who is now studying for a PhD in public health, highlighted the instability and fear of growing up in an area plagued by mass shootings and raids. While many see the conflict as due to religion, Amal spoke of how generalising and stereotyping fuel violence in Palestine. Danielle, who grew up in Kfar Bara, spoke of the struggles of growing up in a country burdened by war, the effects of the military on identity, and her efforts participating on conflict facilitation.
Students asked questions about the responsibilities of the international community; how the lives of the visitors had been affected by the upsurge in violence during the summer; whether the younger generations were more open-minded; the importance of Jerusalem, and how this issue might be resolved. They took this opportunity to listen to the speakers’ experiences and to learn more about the challenges they faced standing up for peace and dialogue in their own communities, in which people often held partisan views, as well as their hopes for future resolution through a solutions-focused approach. As Amal urged,
“Only if we stand together can we actually live a peaceful life.”
Amal and Danielle encouraged the students to use their voices to make positive changes in our society and communities. We are looking forward to a final session on 9th December.
Head of Religious Education
Director of Christian Life