Doha Forum: Youth Edition 2023, powered by QatarDebate Centre, kicked off the second day of discussions touching on issues ranging from the Palestinian-Israeli war to building a sustainable world for future generations.
In his opening speech prior to the first expert panel discussion, Dr Norman Finkelstein, named in 2020 as the fifth most influential political scientist in the world, said: “We’ve had this brutal, heartless, illegal blockade of Gaza for over 20 years.”
Speaking to an audience of more than 80 delegates from his home in Brooklyn, United States, he said: “It is a 20-year long crime against humanity, which the whole world is cognisant of but allows to continue.”
“However, that’s only half the story,” Dr Finkelstein continued. “The other half of the story is that every few years, Israel ‘mows the lawn’ in Gaza.”
“‘Mowing the lawn’ in Gaza means every few years – 2008, 2012, 2014 – Israel commits a high-tech massacre in Gaza,” he explained.
The first expert panel discussion on 'Bridging A Divided World: The Politics of Peace' was led by Palestinian moderator A Safaa Jaber and comprised panelists Dr Finkelstein, former 'New York Times' correspondent based in Gaza Taghreed Elkhodary, and Mouin Rabbani, a researcher and analyst specialised in Palestinian affairs, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the contemporary Middle East.
The panelists discussed the history and roots of the conflict that has spanned decades, leading to the events of October 7.
Delegates from over 75 countries listened to the talk which shed light on the most prominent challenges facing the Palestinian people, key players and stakeholders in the conflict, global diverging legal views and the crucial role of media and foreign powers.
During the second expert panel session on 'Sustainability and Economic Policy', moderator Arina Najwa from Malaysia led discussions alongside a panel comprising of Unesco Science Sector Programme officer Donia Abdelwahed, Prof Eduardo G Pereira (a worldwide recognised scholar specialising in Natural Resources and Energy Law), and, Prof Damilola S Olawuyi, a Unesco chairholder on Environmental Law and Sustainable Development at the College of Law in Nigeria.
The panel discussed the trends shaping global energy demand and efforts to maintain energy security, energy justice and the diversity of energy flows, as well as the industry’s ability to tackle pollution and reduce its carbon footprint by diversifying energy sources.
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