Words of Peace

Yarden Karni, NSL Student 2013
Ritz Carlton, First Session, Speech One

Two years ago I was part of the biggest social change in Israel in the past twenty years. After years of government policies that were not in favor of the middle and lower classes, we stood up and demanded justice.
The cost of living in Israel had become far too high. At first there were only a few of us but our resolution and belief was strong. Our message was simple” The People Demand Social Justice”.

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Nitzan Regev-Sanders, NSL Student 2012
SAIS Conference, First Session, Speech One

My name in Nitzan Regev-Sanders, I’m an Israeli and I have served 21 in the Israeli defence forces. Let me explain. As my father was an air navigator in the Israeli air-force I was born and raised in army bases. In a sense I was drafted to the Israeli army the day I was born. As the bases were always surrounded by fences and guards, I grew up in a seemingly safe and secured environment, which allowed me to be very independent since I was a young girl. However, the experience of growing up in army bases was also speckled with fear. As my friends’ fathers around me were killed and injured I was constantly anxious and afraid that a war might break out or that something horrible would happen to my father.

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Yara Owayyed, NSL Student 2012
SAIS Conference, First Session, Speech Two

What will you do if I burn your hair?” my 10th grade classmate asked. He was holding my hair in one hand, and a lighter in the other. I laughed nervously and answered, “You won’t burn my hair”. A second later, a lock of my hair was already melting. Ladies and Gentlemen, My name is Yara Owayyed, I’m 24 and I’m a Palestinian citizen of Israel.During the period of the armed conflict in 1948, we, Palestinian Israelis did not leave our homes; we remained in our land that became Israeli territory after the war. After 16 years of being subjected to martial laws, travel permits, curfews, and administrative detentions, we were granted citizenship in 1966.

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Rikus Wessels, NSL Management Team & SAWIP Alumnus
SAIS Conference, First Session, Speech Three

My name is Rikus Wessels, and I am a white African. I come from a farming family in the Free State Highlands of South Africa; born in the small town of Vrede, meaning Peace – and later attended school in the beautiful South African town of Bethlehem. I am part of the NSL Management Team for 2012, following in the footsteps of NSL’s South African Co-Founder Olebile Gaobepe. I am an alumnus of the South Africa Washington International Program, through which I got to know NSL. Although I am not from the Middle East, I believe that it is important for the NSL students to get perspectives from other conflicts and other societies, without having to compare the conflicts.

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John Callaghan, NSL Founder & WIP Alumnus
SAIS Conference, First Session, Speech Four

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen. My name is John Callaghan. I am a recent graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, an alumnus of the Washington Ireland Program Class of 2008, and a member of NSL’s start-up team from 2009. I was invited here today to speak with you on two points; firstly, as someone who grew up against the background of violence in Northern Ireland, I was asked to consider what response and insights our conflict zone might offer to the Israeli and Palestinian speakers you have before you here today, as they fight, for Nitzan to change hers from a violent fight to a fight for peace, and for Yara, as a member of the minority to fulfil her potential.

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Waleed Issa, NSL Student, 2012
SAIS Conference, Second Session, Speech One

My name is Walid Issa. I’m a Palestinian from Bethlehem. I grew up in the Dehesha refugee camp with five sisters and three brothers. My family is rich when it comes to care and compassion, even though we are not wealthy. I grew up in the beautiful land of Palestine. I grew up loving my identity, my history and my culture. I can still hear the echo of my grandfather’s stories about the glory of the olive trees in Palestine. My grandfather planted a seed of love for my country that has grown to be a strong tree in my heart.

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Guy Cherni, NSL Student, 2012
SAIS Conference, Second Session, Speech Two

My name is Guy, and I’m an Israeli. I was born and raised in the most beautiful place in the world; Jerusalem. Descendant of a family, who’s both branches escaped extermination in Europe; I live the duality of Judaism: a secular everyday life on the one hand, but with tradition, as a strong guideline on the other. For me, the most important part of that tradition is the “Jewish moral code”, which was famously summarized by the immortal sentence: “Love the other as you love yourself”.

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Diane Halley, NSL Founder & WIP Alumnus, 2001
SAIS Conference, Second Session, Speech Three

My name is Diane Halley and I am from the south of Ireland from a county called Tipperary. I am a Washington Ireland Programme (WIP) graduate and alum from 2001, which was my very first time in DC and in the US. I undertook my initial visit to the Middle East while working as a Human Rights advisor at the European Parliament in Brussels. I visited Israel and Palestine including Gaza a few weeks after the 08/09 Gaza war where the purpose of our mission was to assess whether there had been breaches of international humanitarian law by either side during the conflict. Upon visiting Gaza, and seeing the extent of devastation to homes, schools and factories after the war, I also remember noticing many smiling faces – kids on their way to school waving at our convoy; adults peering out from behind their crushed places of business to salute our delegation. This is what struck me most during my visit: the incredible resilience of the people of Gaza, and their ability to get on with life because they just had to.

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Lior Frankiensztajn, NSL Student 2012
Congressional Forum, Speech One

To follow shortly

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Mary Sayej, NSL Student 2012
Congressional Forum, Speech Two

It is a great pleasure to speak to you today at this US Congressional Forum. For many years, this venue has hosted debates where numerous individuals have discussed how I should live my life back home. Decisions have been made here that have affected me and continue to affect me. In the opinion of some in these hallways, Palestinians can’t even decide on the color of their Humus! This congress, that for many years has been the forum for mostly Israeli leaders to influence politicians and the media, is now hosting ME – a Palestinian, woman from Ramallah, who will today make the attempt to dissolve some of the stereotypes that I believe have been built up over the years! I’m on equal grounds, and I am asking you to be fair in your judgment and walk with me in this path to explore the other face of the Palestinian society.

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Noa Shapira, NSL Student 2012
Congressional Forum, Speech Three

March 16th, 2006, was the first time I ever cut class….I skipped math, in order to study for a history exam, and I was sitting in a library, inside of a school, up on the beautiful Carmel Mountain in the city of Haifa. Landscapes of my childhood. I was 15 years old, the youngest of three siblings; Ido – a fighter in the paratroopers commando unit, and Hilla – my eldest sister. That morning, while I was studying about the emergence of the Zionist movement- on the other side of town, a knock was heard on the door of my house.

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Dia Majadleh, NSL Student 2012
Congressional Forum, Speech Four

“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” Good morning ladies and gentlemen, it’s my honor to speak before you today. My name is Dia Majadleh. I’m a Palestinian, a descendant of a family of refugees from Haifa. My story goes back to 1948, when my family was forced into exile, into the unknown. Luckily enough, I was given everything I needed to make my life worth living, but that’s not how things go with other refugee families.

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Or Amir, NSL Student, 2012
Congressional Forum, Speech Five

I am; Female, Israeli, Jewish, Secular, Moroccan, Zionist, a Former IDF officer who still serves in the Reserve, a B.A Student and Volunteer. What do you think about me now? In Israel, when naming a child in Hebrew, the name often carries meaning. We have been named after a person who our parents wish us to be like, perhaps to honor their memory, or they just use a word which has some meaning to them. All of the above are labels. We use labels all the time in order to put some sense in our world. We are making assumptions, building some kind of idea of what’s in front of us before we see it, and deciding where we are going to end up before we take the first step. Labels are like a window to our destiny and future, but instead of helping us see it, they are preventing us from having it at all

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Noa Shapira, NSL Student 2012
Embassy Forum, Introduction

Welcome ladies and Gentleman, my name is Noa Shapira. I am a member of New Story Leadership 2012 , and it is my pleasure to welcome you to our final formal event. A human rights activist from Gaza, a student from London, a journalist, former officers of the Israeli defense force; Young professionals from Tul Karem, Ramallah, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem – come together to DC for two months, to meet who is considered to be the enemy. They left behind a career, a husband, girlfriends, homes – and came for a summer of uncertainty, of questions, of challenges. And all of that – in a foreign language. Why?
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Dia Majadleh, NSL Student 2012
Embassy Forum, Speech One

Liberty, equality, and fraternity. This is what my history teacher told us at the beginning of the lesson, when we learned about the French Revolution in the 10th grade. Back then, I never knew that old ideas about tradition and hierarchy could be abruptly overthrown by one revolution, and be replaced by the principles we now consider the human triumph. Dreams of war, dreams of lies, and dreams of the phoenix. If you want to know what I mean by the previous three phrases, you can listen to my favorite band Metallica, or go and live between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River for one year.

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Or Amir, NSL Student, 2012
Embassy Forum, Speech Two

Once upon a time on a spring day a young-woman took a ride on a bus and arrived into Jerusalem. She got off, walked through the central bus-station, and hoped that everything would be peaceful, not like it used to be when she was a child. She exited the station to the other side of the street and tried to decide whether to ride the Light Rail. Busy roads, people were yelling in every possible language, and in her mind the picture of the young Israeli woman who was stabbed there a couple weeks earlier was still alive. She chose the “safer” but more expensive way to travel – a cab. She arrived to the International YMCA building, where she met a crazy Australian who believed he had found a method that could help her make her life a little better.
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Lior Frankiensztajn, NSL Student 2012
Embassy Forum, Speech Three

Feelings are a very strong thing. One could say that they are the strongest driving force of humankind. Much stronger, even, than logic or common sense. Tonight we are hearing tragic stories of brave men and women. We are hearing stories of violence, hate, and loss – stories that vividly demonstrate the harsh reality of conflict. My name is Lior, I am Israeli and too grew up in the midst of this conflict. When I was 15, my school bus was shot at, and three people died. Every day when I open the newspaper, I read that neighboring leaders are calling to throw Israel or the “Jewish entity” into the sea. I have given the best years of my life to military service in order to fight Hezbollah, Hamas, Iran, and other extremists who threaten my homeland.

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Waleed Issa, NSL Student 2012
Embassy Forum, Speech Four

To follow shortly

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Nitzan Regev-Sanders, NSL Student 2012
Embassy Forum, Speech Five

For all children, everywhere…

“If they didn’t find him by now, they never will.” Those were the words I heard when I woke up one morning, a morning I will never forget. My name is Nitzan Regev Sanders. I am an Israeli, I am Jewish, and because my father was an air navigator in the Israeli air force, I was born and raised in military bases. “If they didn’t find him by now, they never will” – the words echoed in my head. I was only ten years old, but I was already aware of the risks my father took every time he had a night flight. I started walking slowly down the hallway, which seemed to go on for infinity. My mind and heart were racing. I was terrified.

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Noa Shapira, NSL Student 2012
Embassy Forum, Conclusions

We all heard and felt the inspiring passion from tonight’s speakers. But I am sure that many of you are thinking –“Now what?” How do we turn into action? The Israeli and the Palestinian societies face the same obstacle — apathy. The silence of the sometimes sets the policy more than the extremists on both sides. From Ramallah to Tel Aviv – People don’t act; they are led by governments with an agenda to preserve the status quo. Even before I got here, I was concerned with the question of urgency. I know I care, I know we don’t have a minute to waste, but I also know I don’t represent the majority of my society. How do we convert the sense of urgency, the energy of this team – To a movement? How do we make people, who have gotten so used to opening the news and hearing about war, terror attacks, missiles in the south, air strikes in Gaza – how do we make them understand that too much blood has been Spilled? That we have to end this today?

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Cian Moran, NSL Management Team, 2012
Embassy Forum, Closing Remarks

Mesdames et Messieurs, je voudrais vous remercier d’être ici et je voudrais également à remercier l’Ambassade Française pour leur hospitalité. Je suis fier d’être ici devant vous. Il ya plus de 200 ans, la république française a été fondée sur les valeurs républicaines de liberté, égalité et fraternité. Maintenant, dans l’epoque de la Cinquieme République Française, ces valeurs sont plus importantes que jamais dans la création d’une paix durable

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New Story Leadership 276 Carroll Street NW Washington, DC 20012 Phone: 240-476-1123