Peace Begins with Us by Moran, Israel

I was always an adventurous girl, I always try to learn new thing and be present in new experiences. So I answered “why not?” to the invitation to be a participant in Eurasia Model UN in Passau, Germany. Basically I was the only Israeli and eventually only Jew in the conference, but I liked the challenge to show people the Israeli story.
This conference was co-organized between the Passau University and Lahore university in Pakistan. For me it was the first time to meet people for which my country doesn’t have diplomatic relations with their government and are basically considered to be the enemy. From their side, I am for sure the enemy, and even their passport doesn’t recognize my country’s existence as it states on it “valid to all places beside Israel.”
What can one say in this situation? What should each one of the sides do? Will we just ignore each other until the conference will end? Or rather will we say polite greetings at the beginning and try to avoid any further conversations? That was not my intention. If I was giving the chance to talk I would grab the opportunity with both hands.
So I did, we had an opening ceremony in the ancient town hall of Passau, and an impressive Gala dinner afterwards. In MUN world this is the time to mingle and meet new people from different countries. When I had the chance, I approached one of the Pakistani participants and began a conversation with him, after a small chat came the big question: “where are you from?”, now it was my time so I answered: “I’m from Israel.” I saw a moment of inconvenience in his eyes but this moment had passed within the seconds it came to his face. After the  conversation continued we added more people into our discussion and eventually this was how we got to know each other better. We mostly talked about the life of young people all around the world and how much we are the same, even though we are from different places. We also talked about international politics, but we didn’t get overheated, there are many problems in the world before discussing the Israeli-Arab conflict. I was surprised to have a calm and interesting evening and discussion with people who should be considered my “enemies.” One of the Pakistani participants I met even mentioned that he never thought of Israelis in such a nice manner as I behaved in this evening. Unfortunately, I can’t recall any interaction with Pakistani female participants. I can’t even  tell why, maybe because it was a big conference, over 200 participants and there was not enough time to meet them all =), or maybe it happened for any other number of reasons.
The peak moment of the conference was the cultural night in which we all learned how to dance a Bavarian folklore dance as well as Pakistani traditional dancing. As I was the only Israeli there I felt that the peace can start with us and within us, and all we need to do is to meet the other side. During the last day of the conference, the co-director general, another Pakistani participant invited people to come visit Lahore and other places in Pakistan. I remember most vividly when he said “terror has no religion.” These words stayed with me until today, especially in the most difficult times.
Even though my story shares some point of optimism which happens in this world, this is also when it comes to its end. After the conference ended we didn’t exchange contact details or maintain the relations via social media, each one for its own reasons, and the little peace we shared would be a memory that we can spread as a story, until, hopefully, the next time we will meet.

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