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Salam, Shalom and Peace
By CAROLINE FRANK
03/04/2014
Online activism group, Yala Young Leaders, launches interactive classroom that will bring advice from successful peace practitioners to Middle East youth.
 
Like Israeli chief negotiator of the Oslo Accords and Yala Young Leaders founder Uri Savir played an active role in diplomacy, young peace activists around the Middle East and Africa have a will to change the world into a better place.

This week, Yala Young Leaders launched its pilot program at the Arab Israeli Peace Institute in honor of Nelson Mandela - an online peace classroom that will see peace practitioners such as Savir show young Arabs and Israelis that peace is accessible.

Peace Institute co-coordinator Sarah Benazera told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that the institute is the first online classroom that gathers people from the Arab and Israeli world together. "That has never existed before. There are lots of platforms for chats and courses for the Arab world and separately in the Israel world and Jewish Diaspora, but this time it is together and is taking into account that we are part of the region and that we are all living here," she said.

"The idea is to learn practical peace, to make peace accessible and pragmatic, and to learn about how to make real and concrete peace from people who have done it already."

Students who sign up to the April-May program will watch a 25-minute video lecture every 10 days on reconciliation, peace negotiation, human rights and good governance.

"On March 31 we had Uri Savir speaking about peace negotiations and he spoke about how you need to be creative and think outside the box to be a good peace negotiator," Benazera said. "We will also have lecturers from Rwanda, South Africa, Northern Ireland, England, the Balkans – people who have known conflict, have seen conflict but somehow dealt with it better than us here in the Middle East."

After the videos, a live, dynamic chat room will be open where students can engage with one another in an interactive forum for two hours on the ideas discussed in the video. Approximately 300 students have already signed up for the pilot program from more than 40 countries in the Middle East, South Africa and Africa.

"The idea of Yala is we can't meet in person to talk to people from Kenya, Morocco, South Africa, Israel and Palestine – that can't happen in real life. But with the internet there are no physical borders," Benazera said.

"Yala is revolutionary in the sense that we help people get together and speak in a safe platform no matter where we are.

"We want to create a greater community of peace makers." At the end of the program in May, students will present a final paper on what they learned in the program.

"We had 107 students in the last live chat this week and hope for many more today," Benazera said.

Next Monday, April 7, Uri Savir will join a live, interactive video chat with 6 Arabs and Israelis to discuss his ideas of peace negotiations.

For more information on Yala Young Leaders, visit http://yalaacademy.org/ or email info@yalayl.org. 
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