Pierson College hosted members of the Ru’ya Falastiniya — Palestinian Vision — a youth-directed organization with the mission of promoting leadership and communication skills in Palestinian youths in the college’s first Master’s Tea of the year yesterday.
Rami Naser Eddin, executive director of the program, and Ruwa Jaber, the program manager, spoke to a room full of students about the nature of their organization as well as the belief system that it strives to promote to its members. During the tea, Eddin explained that he wants to promote a Palestinian state that can co-exist with Israel. The program educates youths to achieve these goals by giving them the skills necessary to become productive members and leaders in their society.
“A lot of Palestinians are against what we are working for,” Eddin said. “Our goal as Palestinians is to open a dialogue with the Israelis … and to resist violent ways.”
Palestinian Vision is a non-governmental organization with over 600 members in nine cities. The group targets 18-35 year olds and requires a $2 monthly fee to promote accountability — the fee is waived in cases of students who cannot afford it. The program leaders make outreach efforts in schools and hold summer camps for its members.
Palestinian Vision is speaking to groups across America as one step towards the group’s goal of international cooperation, Eddin said. The plan for reaching out to American youth includes initially opening dialogue with students and perhaps proceeding to create student exchange programs. Eddin described his hope that “we should all build together.”
“We feel like there is a gap between us and American youth,” he said. “[We] want to open a window between us as a Palestinian people and the American people.”
Eddin and Jaber both spoke a great deal regarding the ideals that the organization promotes, which became the fuel for questions from the audience. Upon being questioned, Eddin explained that the group condemned suicide bombings as “wrong” but did not label it as terrorism. Eddin said he did believe that martyrdom deserves respect in light of the fact that a person is willing to sacrifice himself or herself simply for political causes. But he made clear that while he did have a personal respect for martyrs, he in no way condoned the practice of suicide bombing.
In order to promote nonviolence, the Palestinian Vision workshops teach skills for not appearing nervous or intimidated in the face of militants, Eddin said.
“[Palestinians] are strong in the civil society,” he said. “We are strong in the democratic way. We can speak as youth and no one can stop us … the other regimes are totally different … we are civil people. We are educated.”
Palestinian Vision works with young people, Eddin said, because “by educating, it is a resistance.”
Some students at the tea opposed the group’s vision, but they declined to comment for the News.
The Master’s Tea will be followed today by a Law School event entitled “The Role of Youth in Building a Palestinian Democracy.”