From Arrabah to Belfast

Nida’ Nassar, a 28-year-old from the Arab town of Arrabah in Israel, works continuously to sow a culture of civic engagement and to contribute to the elimination of sectarian conflict in Israel/Palestine.

Last month, she traveled to Belfast in Northern Ireland to take part in a media camp that boosted her confidence in working for change and provided her with skills to continue forward.

“We talked about tools, mechanisms, and how to overcome daily challenges in our lives,” she explains.

Nida’, the only international participant among nearly 80 from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, was excited to discover the similarities between her life as part of an Arab-Palestinian minority in a Jewish state and the reality of young people in Ireland.

“There are lots of similarities between Belfast and Haifa,” Nida says. “It is a socially and politically similar context.”Although Northern Ireland is peaceful these days, many areas and districts of Belfast still reflect the country’s divided nature—not unlike the division noticeable in Israel.

The camp was supported by Public Achievement, the leading youth-focused civic education organization in Northern Ireland, and the model for AFSC’s Palestine Civic Engagement Program over the last decade.

Through this program, youth become more organized, bring their views forward, and become more active citizens.

Given the tough reality of the Arab-Palestinian population in Israel, especially with social and economic disadvantages among its citizens, it’s important that people’s efforts to make society more pluralistic and democratic are supported.

AFSC funded Nida’s trip to attend the media camp in a belief that such work is essential to move away from conflict and help transform Israeli society into a vibrant one with full participation of all its citizens.

At the camp, Nida learned how to use graffiti art, digital storytelling, audio, and other tools to advance a specific cause—skills that will enhance her work with young people as project coordinator at Baladna Association in Haifa, one of AFSC’s main partners.

For more on the Palestine program, please write to: IKassissieh@afsc.org