Dec 29 2011

United Israel

Published by Editor at 3:20 pm under Home Page, University News

The first national conference of “United Israel”, the Israeli Model United Nations organization, was held at the University of Haifa on 21-22 December. The conference was organized by the university’s MUN society and was sponsored by the University and its Student Union.

MUN is a student-run academic program in which some 90,000 participants take part worldwide, participating in some 400 international conferences annually. The program simulates diplomatic activities of the different UN institutions, during which participants discuss different topics regarding global issues.

Members of the University of Haifa MUN Society, founded in 2011 and sponsored by the University and the Student Union, have participated in three international MUN conferences so far, in Israel and abroad, winning many awards and achieving great accomplishments.

Some 100 students participated in the Haifa conference last week from around Israel, including representatives from the University of Haifa, Tel-Aviv University, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, IDC Herzliya, Bar-Ilan University, the College of Management in Rishon- LeZion, Ariel University Center of Samaria, Max Stern Academic College of Emek Yizrael and the Al-Qasemi Academic College of Education. Amongst the participants were also foreign students from 15 different countries who are studying in the special overseas student programs at the University of Haifa and IDC Herzliya, and a group of high school students from Baqa al-Gharbiyye.

Many distinguished guests were present at the opening ceremony of the conference, including the University of Haifa’s Dean of Students Prof. Hanan Alexander, Head of the School of Political Sciences Prof. Eran Vigoda-Gadot, Dr. Daniel Ben-Oliel of the Faculty of Law, and Chair of the Student Union Yossi Shalom. In a short clip screened at the opening, Secretary-General of the UN Ban Ki-Moon mentioned that he too had participated in MUN conferences as a student, and that at the time he would never have dreamed that he would reach the highest ranking position in the UN.

Prof. Alexander stated in the opening ceremony that “I am happy to stand here today and take part in this important conference. The MUN project at the University of Haifa combines all the important values that the university wishes to push forward, such as academic excellence, activities on an international level, co-existence, and the like.”

The conference participants received a unique opportunity, allowing them to detach themselves from Israeli day-to-day life and discuss important global issues. Participants represented countries other than Israel and in the different UN and EU committees they discussed various matters, such as child soldiers, territorial disputes between North and South Sudan, accepting Turkey to the EU, dispute resolution regarding whale hunting, and much more.

At the end of the conference, two students from the University of Haifa (Graeme Kennedy from the International School and Maroun Maa’louf from the Faculty of Law) won the “Best Delegate” awards in their committees, and three more students (Pazit Reshetnik from the Faculty of Law, David Gurevich from the Department of Archeology and Joseph Chapman from the International School) won the “Exemplary Delegate” awards.

The conference was the first national MUN conference to be held in Israel. Due to its astounding success, many other Israeli academic institutes have stated that they plan to host such conferences in the future too. “United Israel” now hopes that these conferences will become a tradition, allowing Israeli MUN participants to practice on a more frequent basis.

Sefi Shalam, Chair of the Haifa MUN Society, and secretary-general of the conference, summarized the event in his own words:” It was an extraordinary experience for me and for everyone who took part in the event. The conference enabled students to acquire practical experience in addition to the theoretical experience they receive during their academic studies. The conference was also a great way to expose the University of Haifa to many students from around the country. More than once our guests were astonished by the amount of support the university gives when it comes to student-initiated activities.”

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