Two Israeli students recently won the unique experience of representing Israel in an international youth conference at the United Nations, and developed strong ties with representatives from the Arab world.
The conference addressed the eradication of poverty, the fight against AIDS, the reduction of infant mortality around the globe and the promotion of gender equality.
360 youths, from 180 countries, were invited to attend. The advocacy desk and desk for international organizations in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent medical student Hadar Diskin and law student Amir Hern.
The opening ceremony took place at the UN General Assembly, attended by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Diskin and Hern were seated in the Israeli delegation's seats.
During the conference, Israeli delegates debated with the Iranian delegate regarding child marriage: She argued in favor, while the Israelis were opposed.
During the conference, the two developed friendly ties with representatives from Arab countries, meeting delegates from Syria, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain and Lebanon.
The Arab delegates were interested in the lives of the young Israelis and, at the end of the conference, exchanged contact information and promised to keep in touch. Particularly strong ties were forged with the Palestinian delegation.
Diplomacy creates optimism"I really felt like a diplomat," said Hern. "The Syrians were very nice and we had some good conversations with the Lebanese delegation also."
Diskin said: "After the amazing conversations we had with the Arab delegates, I came to the conclusion that, once you take out politics, people from both sides can speak reasonably and arrive at a solution."
According to Diskin, the Syrian delegate told her that, prior to meeting the Israeli delegates at the conference, a shooting soldier was her only image of Israelis. "We have a very moving talk," she added.
"This conference filled me with optimism. It's possible to achieve peace," Diskin concluded.
One of the highlights of the conference was a concern in the General Assembly, during which conference participants danced and had a good time.