In 2012, UNA Shropshire working with UNA Central Region organised a major event with a focus on Israel and Palestine. Sir Jeremy Greenstock, who was then the Chair of UNA UK, was the principal speaker.
A two-day forum was run in Church Stretton which aimed to:
- Create a plan for contributing to a peaceful Middle East.
- Recognise young peoples’ skills in ‘Model UN’.
- Recognise the contribution to UN goals of local partners.
The major event was an interactive forum. As well as Sir Jeremy, members of UNA UK, UNA Shropshire, youth organisations and local voluntary organisations took a leadership role in sharing their ideas.
Other activities included a dinner for 82 guests.
326 ideas were captured at these events.
In addition, after the event 50 pieces of unsolicited, complimentary, written feedback were received. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
Sir Jeremy left the Forum three challenges:
- To create a plan for contributing to a peaceful Middle East;
- To develop a toolbox for projects throughout UNA;
- To prepare for a ‘Net Zero’ climate change.
Outcomes of the Forum
UNA Shropshire Branch a long-term project called United for Peace and Prosperity. They began to find out what was really happening in the West Bank and on the Gaza Strip. To achieve this they needed someone on the ground as a main contact. They were extremely fortunate to contact a local area man, John Howard, who was about to begin a long-term secondment as an observer with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) based in Bethlehem.
During 2013, John sent UNA 5 newsletters from his observer base on the West Bank. An aggregate of 90 pieces of information were received, analysed, and positioned on a sustainable framework and regarded as accurate and quality findings.
Lessons from John Howard’s newsletters:
- Israel was driving out Palestinians from their land and replacing them with settlers;
- Weapons were being used included tear gas, grenades, machine guns, Molotov cocktails, rocks, Humvees and bulldozers;
- Community travel permits to cross the border had to be agreed 10 days before travel;
- Children suffered. One family attacked 36 times in a year. School bags were checked. There were military trials for 10 teenagers;
- Military law impacted heavily on the lives of young people. But military law is supposed to protect them.
- EAPPI; John’s Observer organisation had been present in Israel Palestine – 10 years.
With John Howard’s help the project become acquainted with a number of Palestinian Israeli organisations including Musalaha (Reconciliation), Tent of Nations, Wi’am (Agape – love), Rabbis for Human Rights, Hand in Hand Schools, Combatants for Peace and Praying Together.
In 2014, leadership of the project was transferred from Shropshire to UNA Central Region.
The project is now in the process of planning a meeting on 24 October 2022 to review progress 10 years after the original event.
For details contact Barrie Oxtoby at firstname.lastname@example.org