UNESCO highlights Israeli students’ peace efforts


Students from a World ORT Youth Village in Israel have secured what is thought to be a world first after their peace-making efforts were acknowledged at a major international forum.

The broadcast of the short film ‘Peace for Israel’, made by teenagers from the Kfar Silver youth village, at a UNESCO conference in Paris was described as ‘historic’.

The 90-second video was made by the students at the height of the conflict on the Gaza border earlier this year and was selected as one of 10 winning entries in a competition to mark the UN’s International Day of Peace in September.

Shown today (December 18) at a UNESCO conference for global NGOs, it focused on the use of drones and robots for peace. There had been more than 100 entries from around the world.

The World ORT students used drone technology to film themselves creating peace signs on the scorched earth, and set the footage against images of the countryside burning after the arson attacks.

Scores of fire kites and Molotov cocktail kites have been launched into Israel from Gaza, destroying tens of thousands of acres of agricultural crops, since the spring.

The Kfar Silver youth village is set in hundreds of acres of agricultural land on the outskirts of Ashkelon, close to the border. In November, the village was evacuated after rockets were fired from Gaza.

Avi Ganon, World ORT Director General and CEO, said: “ORT has been a member of UNESCO’s NGO Liaison Committee for more than a decade – and this recognition is hugely welcome for our organisation and our students.

“ORT’s dynamic STEM curriculum is giving thousands of students a head-start to transform their lives using 21st century skills, with drone technology classes proving particularly popular.

“To receive international appreciation of this work makes a real difference to our students.”

Henri Levy, World ORT representative to UNESCO, is attending the conference in Paris.

He said: “The fact that a piece of work done by Jewish children in Israel, appealing for peace in the face of Palestinian violence, was chosen to be shown by a UN organisation, is historic.

“It’s something that ORT, and especially Kfar Silver students, should be very proud of.”

Shimon Solomon, Kfar Silver principal, said: “The video put together by our students reflects the educational values ​​and messages that they receive at school and at home.

“The children’s courage to travel to the Gaza border when incendiary balloons were being launched on a daily basis demonstrates the yearning for peace in our region.

“I see great importance and pride in our students who chose to send a clear message of peace.”

Kadima Mada’s Flying Drones and Aviation course is one of the most in-demand, and teaches students to design, build and fly the unmanned aerial devices.

Bob Golbert, Senior Project Writer at ORT, is also expected to present a summary at the end of the three-day conference, providing information about the collective future intentions of the NGOs attending the event.

The 2018 International Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) has been taking place at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris and focusses on the theme of “enhancing and promoting the commitment and contribution of UNESCO’s NGO partners”.

It has looked specifically at how NGOs can act together to share collective strength, as well as considering improved communication and dialogue.