Imagining the ‘Other’

A Delegate watching Dr.Dauodi's presentation about the Holocaust  By: Luma Mansi
A Delegate watching Dr.Dauodi’s presentation about the Holocaust
By: Luma Mansi

“The holocaust is a rumor”, proclaimed a Palestine student from the screen of Professor Mohammad Dajani Daoudi presentation, using the Arabic word for rumor, “ishaa”. A concept that is known to some Palestinians about the Holocaust.

Dr. Daoudi, a Palestinian nationalist, who believes in the significance of learning about human suffering and standing up for the truth because “history cannot be erased and it is important to honour all victims”, took a group of Palestinian students to Auschwitz and Israeli students to refugee camps to study the impact of evoking empathy for “the other”. Volunteers found out about this controversial trip by word of mouth. It was kept relatively low-profile to avoid the public pressuring these students against going. Unfortunately, the day before they set out, Palestinian and Israeli newspapers published articles about the event and there was public outcry, accusing the Professor of treason for propagating Israeli propaganda.

However, some students still travelled; they began to empathize with the Jewish people who had been gassed and cremated yet remained defensive, arguing that they were still Palestinian nationalists and felt distress only for the lapse in humanity that occurred at these sites, as opposed to identifying with the Jewish people. Fortunately, as Dr. Daoudi has shown, one can still be a great supporter of Palestine while accepting the holocaust and the Jewish people’s suffering. “In reconciliation, you must bring the best out of a person.”, he says, reiterating that the only way to solve conflict is to understand both sides.

Dr. Daoudi came to this conclusion after experiencing two profound events that lead him to understand the value of “imagining the other”. First, when his father died and second, when his mother died. Both were treated by Israeli doctors who Daoudi had initially been dubious of, for fear of being discriminated as Arab. Yet, when his father was cared for extensively by Jewish doctors in a Jewish hospital, he first began to respect the idea of unity and; when an Israeli military hospital immediately opened their gates, ordered an ambulance and performed an emergency procedure on his mother as she was dying of an asthma attack, he realised that it was not ‘Us or Them’, it was instead ‘Us and Them’. His mother died that day, but the empathy and unconditional aid the Israeli doctors and soldiers offered, brought out the best in him; he was reminded how frail life was, as he mourned his mother. Since then, he has been fighting for peace between Israel and Palestine.

“Fight against the tide and keep putting more energy into what you believe in” he professed.

Reminiscent of the plenary speaker, Mr. Peter Dalglish’s memory of a young boy who was denied help from a doctor who had taken the hippocratic oath because he was unable to pay, Dr. Daoudi’s talk addresses the need to learn about narratives and continuously gain knowledge, for “it is the light, for good or bad”. He talks about how prior to the holocaust, there was much incitement against the Jewish people, and how history must be told so that it is not repeated, outlining the parallels between 1930 Germany and present day Palestine where there is much incitement towards Palestinians. As Romeo Dallaire, who saw the Rwandan genocide coming and attempted to stop it, we must also acknowledge the imminence of disaster in war zones if we don’t take action soon.

Dr. Daoudi left us with a powerful quote from a fellow Palestinian nationalist, “I will not remain a bystander even if the victims of suffering are my oppressors.”

 

Written by Anisha Pai

 

TABOOS – Truthful or simply Terrible?

Dr.Daoudi – Breaking Taboo’s
Photo by: Luma Mansi

  How can you prevent yourself from being a bystander if you do not take the risk of standing out from the crowd?

  Thursday 16th October 4:15, saw two eager journalists; awaiting the commencement of Breaking Taboos by Proffesor Mohammed Dajani Daoudi. Amongst all of the sessions taking place at the same time, Daoudi’s appealed the most; as it’s concept was both emotionally and stirringly intriguing.

  Dr. Daoudi is a holder of a B.A degree in communication from the American University of Beirut (1972), two Doctorate degrees from the University of South Carolina, Columbia (1981) and the University of Texas at Austin, Texas (1984). In addition to this, he is also the founder of Al-Wasatia moderate Islamic movement in Palestine.

   He also joined Al-Quds University in 2002 where he attained two positions; the position of Director of Libraries and the position of the founding director of the American Studies Institute.

   At the end of the session, the empty room, which the moved journalists had entered, had now completely filled with a sense of awe and respect for the Professor. The curiosity and the intrigue, which had plagued the minds of the journalists, had now been completely and utterly quenched. They had anticipated, and he certainly delivered.

  Daoudi began his presentation with the question “ What is the difference between a leader and a politician?”

   Pausing momentarily; a blanket of silence descended upon the room, as all of the inhabitants paused to contemplate the suggested notion.

   Breaking the palpable tension, he answered the question with the interesting information, “Leaders may HAVE to break taboos, on the other hand, Politicians have to tell the people what they WANT to hear. Politicians must filter and adapt the information, which they are conveying in order to persuade those listening to agree with them. Manipulation is applied; which sufficiently reduces the reliability and value of the information.

   However, in contrast to this, Leaders have already achieved the position that the politicians were striving to attain. Therefore, it is possible for them to leave their personal opinions as they are and use them in order to lead their communities- whether or not the people agree with the leader does not stop them.

 Further on in the session Daoudi mentioned that he had taken 27 students to Auschwitz, in order to deepen and enlighten their personal understanding of the holocaust. Both Palestinian and Israelis went on this trip, and this exemplified the possibility of peaceful relations between the two.

  When asked what the ideal dream be, rather than suggesting having a Palestinian state and an Israeli state, he suggested having them both live together in peace and harmony; for now and coming generations.

   Despite having been heavily criticized, he responded to accustations with a peaceful state of mind, firmly believing that taboos needed to be abolished and that enlightenment was vital for those blinded by propaganda.

 He concluded the session with the words “ The eyes are useless when the mind is blind.”

Written By Hannah Akhtar and Habiba Sallam

Heading Towards Your Fears

Opening Ceremony

The QLC began with great poignancy, encompassing themes of impeding journeys, anticipation and, of course, leadership. Anticipation is an ambiguous feeling; it can contain undertones of a variety of emotions, from trepidation to excitement and, today, the participants of the QLC experienced the full range as Secretary General, Arsalaan Muhammad, reminded us of the gargantuan task ahead of us as the next generation of world leaders; journalism professor, Andrew Mills, imparted the advice and knowledge he has gained from his own exposure to confronting and embracing his fears and; Head of THIMUN Qatar, Lisa Martin, shared her past experiences of the QLC and its humble beginnings as the brain child of Mr.Cameron Janson.

Backed by his history of journalism, a field that requires spending as much time as possible outside ones comfort zone, Andrew Mills, shared an evocative, revolutionary tale of his two month canoe journey across the Arctic; a journey that propelled his life along a course that constantly motivated him to pursue what he fears most, from telling his father he had chosen a career in Journalism to quitting a prestigious position in one of Canada’s top newspapers in order to set up a new life as a Middle East correspondent.

He embarked on this journey at age 17, back in 1997, whilst we, the current participants of the QLC, were all either developing or recently developed fetuses, still on the journey towards body-hood. And now, at the age of setting off across the arctic of beginning life away from home with scarce knowledge of what our futures hold and many choices ahead, we are approaching a time of great trepidation in our futures; soon we will become, or in many cases have already become, the leaders we look up to and respect. As Arsalaan Muhammad, a shining example of leadership in himself said, “the QLC is important because it creates a unique space where participants can build skills that will develop them as the leaders of tomorrow- skills that will be essential to solving the ever-present challenges humanity currently faces, from the onslaught of Gaza to the continuation of the Syrian Civil War.”

These speeches strongly affected those privileged enough to hear them, from the teacher sitting next to me, whose little gasps of awe and relieved laughter peppered the presentation, to Shanthanu Rao, a participant, who as we filed out of the hall gushed, “Andrew Mills had inspired me! My future has always been that white collar authoritative figure he described but I’ve realized now that if you’re not exploring and discovering new things then you’re not pursuing your future so now I’m thinking I’m going to go ahead and do journalism, as I’ve always dreamed.”

So, for the coming three days and the years that lie ahead of you, in college and in adulthood, continue to head towards your fears and remember the wise words of Andrew Mills, “If you don’t find yourself outside your comfort zone, you’re doing something wrong”.

 Written By: Anisha Pai

 

CMU partners with THIMUN Qatar for Film Fest Submission Program

THIMUN Qatar IT Coordinator and CMU students meet weekly to discuss the FIlm Festival submission program under development.
THIMUN Qatar IT Coordinator and CMU students meet weekly to discuss the FIlm Festival submission program under development.

As most of you know, THIMUN Qatar in partnership with Northwestern University in Qatar organizes the annual Film Festival. High school students from virtually any location on earth can participate in this festival and submit their short films. It’s been an ongoing annual tradition ever since its birth in 2010. Several successful short films have emerged as a result of this and have gained recognition internationally. The project that I’m working on is an online film submission system with which students can seamlessly upload their application forms, films, posters and all other materials needed seamlessly onto our databases. We have the privilege of working with seniors from the Information Systems at Carnegie Mellon University Qatar on this project and hope to come up with a new system in time for our upcoming festival. Previously, film submissions were accepted in physical CD’s and flash disks. Moreover, the registration forms were all hand-written and then converted to digital format manually for processing. More recently, the THIMUN Qatar office implemented online submissions for films alone and received about one half of the submissions through a temporary online platform. The variable file upload speeds in different countries is perhaps the biggest challenge that the project faces. Using secure file upload systems and ensuring data integrity, we hope to come up with an effective film submission system by the end of the year.