FNF-Jerusalem office hosting visitor group of young scholarship holders

The Jerusalem office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty (FNF)recently hosted a group of 20 scholarship holders of the foundation, who toured Israel and the Palestinian Autonomous Territories May 14-21st, 2016.

The visitor group was comprised of liberal minded and politically engaged students of excellence, who are part of the extraordinary scholarship program of the foundation. The young talented students pursue different academic disciplines at various universities throughout Germany and Europe. Each year the FNF-scholarship department offers its students a study tour to a country of their interest, whilethis year the decision fell on Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

The visitor program included meetings and discussions with a whole range of interlocutors, friends and partners of the foundation, on both sides of the green line, among them political decision makersand activists from the liberal camp, representatives of civil society organizations, as well as the German ambassador in Tel Aviv and the First Secretary of the German Representative Office in Ramallah.

The aim of the study tour was to provide the young visitors with a deeper understanding of the complex political situation and reality of life on both sides. Next to the all dominating conflict,there are – as the visitors learned – also inner societal challenges, which both sides are confronted with, like economic hardship, and internal divides and tensions between different ethnic, national, ideological and religious groups. These challenges cause many additional tensions but also generate civil society initiatives trying to cope with the complex reality, pushing back radical forces and promotingdialogue and cooperation between the different segments of society. Another positive outcome of this challenging multilayered reality is that it evokes an outstanding spirit of innovation, creativityandimprovisation talent whether in the field of science, society or communication etc.. In the end, necessity is the mother of invention as one says.

At the end of their study tour the young visitors understoodthat the usual media headlines covering events in the region are most of the time limited only to a part of the reality of life and ignore many other aspects of the lives of Israelis and Palestinians.Also participants understood, that instead of investing time and effort in vigorously taking one of the sides, it is recommendable as representatives of the international community to rather concentrate on advocating for a final settlement of the conflict along the two state solution concept, for the benefit of the people of both sides.