Luzon-Mindanao peace videoconfab format may heal Israel-Arab conflict
Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).
08 August 2006
MANILA – International organizers of a videoconference promoting peace and cultural understanding among the youth in the northern and southern Philippines have expressed high hopes that such information and communications technology (ICT) format might help heal the decades-old wounds of ethnic strife between Israelis and their Arab neighbors, primarily the Lebanese and Palestinians.
Organizers of PeaceTech 1, the world’s first ICT-equipped talk show on peace-building for the youth starting with students from Luzon and Mindanao, said the people of Israel whether Israeli Jews or Israeli Arabs and their neighboring Arabs in Lebanon and Palestine would better understand their ethnic and cultural similarities through verbal communication rather than through perpetual conflict where hundreds of civilians including children had perished.
In the first of a seven-part series of videoconferencing shows to promote peace primarily among young Christians and Muslims in the country, PeaceTech organizers revealed that their efforts, with the support of the United Nations (UN) and the Australian government, could even be replicated in the other corners of the world, especially in the conflict-affected regions of the Persian Gulf and the Middle East.
“Imagine this technology when the children and youth of Israel and Lebanon are able to talk, and there would be no war,” Robin Pettyfer of the Assisi Development Foundation Inc. said recently during the videoconference launching simultaneously at the University of the Philippines (UP) campus in Diliman, Quezon City and at the University of Southern Mindanao (USM) campus in Kabacan, North Cotabato.
Pettyfer, a Canadian national who works here as program manager of PeaceTech, cited as a positive development when Israeli and Lebanese youth are able to talk just like the Christian and Muslim Filipino youth who participated in the videoconference at the National Institute for Science and Mathematics Education Department (NISMED) Auditorium in UP Diliman and at the University Laboratory School (ULS) Convention Hall in USM Kabacan.
Dr. Nicholas Alipui, a representative of the United Nations Indigent Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), praised the videoconference for benefiting multi-stakeholder peace initiatives primarily in Eastern Luzon and Central Mindanao, thereby setting an example in helping solve the armed conflict in the Middle East where innocent children and adult non-combatants had become victims.
“This program definitely will benefit the young people and the overall peace process in the Philippines , yet we also hope that peace reigns for the sake of the children in Haifa , Israel and in Beirut , Lebanon ,” said Alipui during the PeaceTech launching.
PeaceTech “ambassadors” and panelists in the program include Muslim female students who shared their experiences to the videoconference audience as victims of ethnic stereotypes from some teachers in universities for wearing their Islamic veils and a young man who revealed instances where students like him from Quezon Province had become targets of prejudice from some classmates in college who accuse them of being communists.
“They should not look upon us as terrorists,” Kabacan program emcee Baicon Macaraya told the crowd at the ULS Convention Hall primarily composed of representatives from the Zamboanga and Lanao regions on her fellow Muslims’ experiences of religious discrimination in the hands of non-Muslims.
Representatives of the Philippine Army in Central Mindanao and of the government panel talking peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the area also disclosed their own experiences on building peace in the community and on preventing future conflict within their respective jurisdiction.
“We in the Armed Forces are not just soldiers of the republic but also engineers who build bridges, wells, and shelters for the people of Mindanao,” said Army 1st Lt. Isidro de Guzman Vicente via teleconference from North Cotabato after narrating his brigade’s previous armed encounters with MILF elements in 2003.
With technical provision from the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT), the PeaceTech program has been made possible through the implementation of UNICEF, the government of Australia through the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), and Assisi Foundation with assistance from the group YouthAid, various scholastic institutions, and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process. (OPAPP)
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