JERUSALEM (JTA) — A virtual peace conference for Jewish and Arab young leaders was held on Facebook.
Monday’s conference was sponsored by the Yala Young Leaders’ group, which seeks to promote dialogue among Israelis, Palestinians and Americans, and the Peres Center for Peace in Tel Aviv. The Yala Facebook page has more than 40,000 members, mostly from the Middle East.
Participants gathered in a virtual space using a Facebook software program called Shaker. Each participant had an online avatar that could walk through the virtual conference hall and interact with the other participants.
"Peace is not necessarily a monopoly of governments," Israeli President Shimon Peres said in a pre-recorded statement. "It can be and should be peace among people. So let the government negotiate, let the administration build, but you make the people come together: straight, directly, openly."
Other speakers included Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
"This conference is an opportunity for all of you, both Arab and Israeli, to engage in dialogue about your shared future and about peace in the region, as well as your day-to-day problems, worries and dreams," Clinton said.
Some statements on the Yala Facebook page questioned the validity of the conference.
"shame on you palestinias stuped youth that thinking about joining this conference," wrote one. The comment, and others like it, was later removed from the page.