The Palestinian youth delegation that participated in the World Social Forum last December in Brazil had a second opportunity to act together and build youth-led networks during the World Social Forum in March 2013. The event in Tunis, Tunisia was a chance to promote youth initiatives within countries affected by the Arab Spring as well as internationally.

Learning from other activists

Aya Abu Bashir, 23, from Gaza says the connections she made with other activists opened her eyes to the commonalities shared by activists around the world—particularly among youth and women.

“I exchanged stories of common struggles with activists from over the world…from South Africa, Chile, Spain, and Latin America,” she says. “I also learned about struggles from Western Sahara and African countries and saw a large number of women gathering together to raise their voices to ensure their equal rights and role building in society.”

With the current restrictions on Palestinian freedom of movement imposed by the Israeli occupation forces, members of the Palestinian delegation cannot meet together at home, so the forum provided a unique open space for directly debating their priorities, both with each other and with an international audience.

“Living for a week side by side with my people from Gaza, where we cannot meet face to face in our homeland, is very touching,” says Aya. “It had a strong impact on giving the spirit to continue working.”

Building movements under occupation

The delegation organized several workshops, including one titled “Challenges and prospects for youth movements nationally and internationally,” which focused on identity and movements under occupation.

One of the ways Palestinian youth are protecting their national identity is through campaigns to recognize the rights of those who were internally displaced within Israel and forced to leave villages destroyed in 1948.

Another panelist shed some light on the dynamics of Palestine refugees in Lebanon.

The group continue to work together. In May 2013, members organized a workshop in Haifa on the occasion of commemorating al-Nakba. The group is also coordinating their work on BDS campaigns.

For more information about the delegation, please contact AFSC’s program coordinator at O.Dana@afsc.org.

For more on Aya’s diaries please check:

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