The magical marvel of modernity flexed its technological muscles on Monday as SNS’s nascent ‘Google hangouts’ programme was launched for the first time! The programme, which will tackle pertinent aspects of the Israel-Palestine conflict each week, aims to connect students in the UK with Israeli and Palestinian peace activists from the region.
After an icebreaker session, where it was discovered that there was an ex-professional footballer and someone with an IMDB page among the group, the participants got down to discussing the nitty-gritty subject matter, highlighting mutual expectations of the programme, establishing ground rules and identifying topics for the upcoming sessions.
The programme will build on SNS’s current work in schools and universities by gathering interested and informed students together to discuss polarising themes surrounding the conflict. As in the school sessions, the benefit of having an Israeli and Palestinian speaker will provide essential and invaluable in providing the participants with a first-hand narrative from the region. This was underlined during questions at the end of the session, the most notable asking whether the fire-breathing “man-of-the-moment” Donald Trump would affect peace talks if he were to become President.
Other faces on the call (see below) highlighted the positive step of new-fangled religious freedom afforded to women and non-orthodox Jews at the Western wall, and queried the British government’s recent decision to instigate legal repercussions for boycotting Israeli goods.
Next week’s session will centre on one of the most contentious areas of the conflict: borders and settlements. Participants follow a suggested reading list every week to prepare them for the exciting and challenging dialogue in the sessions. The next program will start in the summer, so get in touch if you want to take part! Session two for this round of Google hangouts, however, commences again next week, and we’re looking forward to it already!