In the summer of 2012, 27 students with various backgrounds traveled to Israel/Palestine to intern with Israeli and Palestinian organizations. The students came from different universities in France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Poland, Germany, Canada, the UK and the US. Four Dutch students took part in the internship session, including the current chair of FFIPP’s Dutch chapter Charlotte (22), MA student in Law and Politics at the VU in Amsterdam, and Nina (21), BA student in Sociology and Political Science at Amsterdam University College.
To better understand different layers of the ongoing conflict the students participated in an Orientation Week created by FFIPP. The Orientation Week, a seven day tour in Israel (including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa) and the Occupied Territories (including Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jayyous), brought the students to different organizations, activists and other actors in civil society. Charlotte explains that during the Orientation Week she met with settlers, journalists, Palestinians, left- and right wing Israelis and many activists and representatives of human rights NGO’s. The students had the opportunity to speak with a Palestinian businessman, students from Bir Zeit University, a professor from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Omar Barghouti, the founder of the BDS movement. In Hebron for example they were given a presentation by representatives of TIPH (Temporary International Presence Hebron) and went on a special tour through the South Hebron Hills with Breaking the Silence. Nina adds that the Orientation was an intense introduction to the complexity of the conflict, and that the conflict became a 24/7 experience. Nina states: “due to our busy schedule, our encounters with speakers and locations was sometimes too short to really feel satisfied – but luckily the orientation week was only an introduction, and during the internship we had the possibility to return to some of the wonderful places we had visited.”
After the Orientation week the interns traveled to their host organizations such as Project Hope in Nablus, the Alternative Information Center in Bethlehem, the Palestinian Working Women Society in Ramallah, Baladna in Haifa and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions in Jerusalem. Nina went to stay in Haifa where she interned with Mossawa, a Palestinian NGO that does advocacy work representing the Palestinian minority (20%) within the 1948 borders. Mossawa organizes a yearly summer camp for European and Palestinian students. Nina: “the first two weeks of my internship I helped with the preparations for the camp, and the second two weeks the camp took place and I could join. The camp was incredible, we traveled to numerous Palestinian villages throughout the country, from the Galilee in the north to a Bedouin village in the Naqab desert.” Charlotte interned with the Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem and researched “self demolitions,” cases where Palestinians demolish their own homes as a result of ongoing pressure of the municipality, and the threat of having to pay fines and the demolition when they don’t do it themselves.
For both Charlotte and Nina their summer in Israel/Palestine has sparked a more longterm interest. Charlotte became the chair of FFIPP Netherlands, and is planning to write her MA thesis on Israel/Palestine. Nina, currently on a semester abroad in Canada has volunteered for the Palestine Film Festival in Toronto and intends to go back to Haifa after graduating next summer for an extended internship of six months with Mossawa. Charlotte and Nina are both part of the team that will organize the internship session of next summer as they hope to draw the attention of many others to the ongoing conflict.
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