At 10:00 am on the dot, the signal will be given and the first ever Facebook peace conference will take off. The conference will include representatives from the Arab world and from Israel and is being promoted by the Peres Center for Peace and the Yalla Palestine Initiative.
A former Israeli peace negotiator says thousands of young Jewish and Arab activists from across the Middle East plan to participate in the peace conference this week on Facebook.
President Shimon Peres, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, actress Sharon Stone, Barcelona football coach Pep Guardiola, National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern and others are set to address the virtual gathering. Some will do so via video link while others have sent in a written message.
Uri Savir, Director of the Peres Center for Peace, a sponsor of the Facebook group said that the purpose of the conference is “first and foremost to shape the agenda for the Middle East’s next generation with regards to the region’s future.
“The second goal is to adopt four joint projects or initiatives that will be industrial parks that will include the establishment of online academic programs, training young leaders in cooperation with major US universities, promoting music projects and more.”
When the Yalla initiative was launched it’s founders thought it would become a web-based venture that would attract maybe 2,500 members – a typical number for this kind of initiative. Yet Israel’s social protests last summer and the revolutions in the Arab world in which Facebook had a major role, acted as a springboard for the initiative.
Today, the initiative has 37,000 members on its page including 9,000 from Egypt, 3,500 Israelis, 2,500 Palestinians, 1,500 Algerians, 1,400 Moroccans, 1,050 Iraqis, 700 Saudi Arabians, 500 Libyans, 190 from Lebanon and representatives from other countries as well.
Nimrod Ben-Zeev, the site’s administrator, says the conference aims to send a message of peace to the region’s leaders and create concrete programs, such as online leadership academy.
The Associated Press contributed to this report