‘My Weekend at the YaLa Peace Conference’ by Ilan Bass from Israel

This weekend I traveled to the Dead Sea in Jordan to participate in the YaLa-Young Leaders يالا-يا قادة الشباب יאללה-מנהיגים צעירים MENA Leaders for Change 2014 peace conference. tumblr_inline_ne7aptjsvz1sag8l3There I met some inspiring people from all over the Middle East North Africa region (including Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Sudan, Yemen and Egypt), pitched my idea for a peace building initiative to staff at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, Consulate General in Jerusalem and a successful entrepreneur from Lebanon, met Laura Blumenfeld, senior adviser to the Office of the Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, was awarded US Department of State International Exchange Alumni status, recorded a video message for John Kerry with a Palestinian participant, and learned a great deal about different cultures in the region and also how to get a social enterprise off the ground.  A huge diversity of political opinions were represented and given the greatest respect. What united all the participants was the desire to know more about people from other parts of the MENA region and to join forces in creating projects that will hopefully bring peace to the region faster than what is possible if we simply leave it to our politicians. After meeting the participants and seeing their ideas for peace building projects, I have no doubt we will succeed. I feel incredibly privileged to have been chosen to take part in this learning and dialogue programme and want to thank YaLa and all the participants for their friendship and efforts this weekend. Now it’s time to get on with making peace a reality…  Yala! ‪#‎ThereIsAnotherWay‬ ‪#‎ItsYaLaTime‬ Ilan, YaLa Young Leaders

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