“Try to know us — حاولوا تعرفونا”

Jean Hatem © UNDP Lebanon 2016

‘Forget about the stereotypes, try to know us’ said Abdel Rahman Jassem, Palestinian journalist and participant in the 12th issue of the UNDP “Peace Building in Lebanon” Joint News Supplement. Jasem believes that the real problem facing Arabic communities amidst the Syrian crisis and displacement is that “people don’t know each other, and don’t make the effort to” he added during the discussion session of the supplement on Thursday, July 14th, 2016.

Another participant in the supplement and the discussion, Jaber Suleiman, Palestinian researcher and consultant in refugee studies thought that “any attempt to bridge Lebanese-Palestinian relations involves turning the page, but only after reading it”.

Suleiman — who wrote the article “Season of Migration to Lebanon: A snapshot of the Palestinian Displacement from Syria” — was one of the 45 participants from NGOs, media institutions, local society and activists.
The Peace Building in Lebanon Joint News Supplement is published every three months with Annahar, Assafir, L’Orient-Le Jour, and The Daily Star newspapers. This issue contained articles by writers, journalists, media professionals, researchers and artists from Lebanon, Syria and Palestine; covering issues related to civil peace in addition to the repercussions of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon and the relations between Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians.

The talk took place at Beirut Digital District where the vibrant colors of the setting blended with the dynamism of the debate.
Participants took this session as an opportunity to meet and discuss their thoughts in an open atmosphere free from hatred and misconceptions. It was also a chance to share their perceptions, fears and aspirations on the role of municipalities in facing the crisis, the legal perspective of the curfews, the Palestinian displacement from Syria and many other personal testimonies.
“I’m glad I wrote in this supplement. It is unusual for me to write in mediums that choose me” said Lebanese Professor Nahla Chahal, adding “yet it makes me happy to address an audience I don’t know and that doesn’t know me”.
On the other hand, Bariaa El Ahmad, Lebanese independent journalist, thought that the supplement has immense potential — especially that it’s so independent and free from any affiliations.

To the participants, this talk was more than an opportunity to come across new people. It was also an occasion that imposed seeing through new points of view. The topics discussed were not new to most of the attendees; yet addressing those topics in a heterogeneous group had a different impact on each of them.

“When I first got to Lebanon I was taken away by two opposite worlds. It’s amazing to see this supplement standing up against all sorts of racism and discrimination, and speaking so much of the Syrians while the world outside is on a different wave” said Elias Sadkini as the session was closing up.

Read the latest supplement on lb.undp.org/pbsupplement