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Palestinian Scout Association Comeback!

posted on: Mar 2, 2022

The Palestinian Scouts Motto

BY: Sara Alsayed / Arab America Contributing Writer

The Scout Movement has always been an integral part of society and has focused on the quest of educating young people on the values of life to help them play a constructive role in their community. Following the principles of scouting towards God, others, and self.

The Scout movement is a voluntary, national, non-political, social-educational movement open to all, without distinction of color, race, religion, or gender that works according to the goals, foundations, and methods of scouting set by its founder.

An Image of Robert Baden Powell

On August 9th, 1907, the Scout moment was first established and founded by Robert Baden Powell, a lieutenant-general in the British Army. He served from 1876 until 1902 in India and Africa. During the Second Boer War in South Africa (1899), where Powell’s troops were vastly outnumbered, he made use of local boys to administer first aid, carry out messages, and run errands.
On his return to the United Kingdom (UK), he realized the people of his society can be utilized in order to carry out certain activities. This went on to create the base of the Scouts Movement.
This Scout movement moved on to create a series of other scout movements that became highly popularized all over the world.

An Image of Olave Baden Powell

In 1918, Robert Baden Powell’s wife, Olave Baden Powell went on to create Girl Guides, which spread to Lebanon, Syria, and Beirut.

In 1928, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) was established and officially presided by Olave Baden Powell.

In 1964, the first Arab region office for girl scouts was established.

In 1973, This office was formally recognized by WAGGGS in Cairo.

The first country in which the Scout movement had spread was Palestine in 1912, starting from Jerusalem moving to all the Palestinian cities. The scout movement assisted in aiding the wounded and helping the people during the period from 1928 till 1948, which was named the “struggle period”.

The Palestinian Scouts Association has gone through many withdraws before it was officially recognized by the World Scouts Bureau. The Scout Movement in Palestine began in 1912, and it was recognized by the World Scouts Bureau in 1945; that recognition was withdrawn in 1948 due to the Nakba (Catastrophe), which led to thousands of Palestinians being forced to leave their homes and country. In addition, Israel was officially declared as a state.

So, the Palestinians created a Palestinian Scout Association in exile. Yet this association was denied membership in the World Organization because to earn recognition in the World Organization, the Scout Movement must be active within their own national borders and have their own seat in the United Nations (UN).

An agreement in 1993 was reached declaring that the Palestinian Scouts Association can have a temporary seat in the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM), despite not being recognized by the UN. During this time, the Palestinian Scouts became active in the diaspora, which had a great impact on preserving the Palestinian scout identity in Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan.

Finally, on February 27th, 2016, the Palestinian Scouts Association obtained its recognition from the World Organization of the Scout Movement with the approval of all countries. And on November 29th, 2019, the first National Scout Conference was held in Ramallah.

Palestinian Scouts performing at Bethlehem

The Palestinian Scouts Movement has participated in numerous religious events. For example, during the Mawlid Al-Nabwi (the anniversary of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, may God bless him and grant him peace), the Palestinian Scouts assisted in celebrating this anniversary by marching, preparing, and giving out sweets. Also, they performed during a visit by Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rahi to the West Bank town of Bethlehem, May 27th, 2014.

Palestinian Scouts at An-Najah University

Having interviewed a male and female scout from the Rangers and Rovers of An-Najah University, I have found that the Scout Movement follows the principles and fundamentals of Scouting, which creates positive and comfortable energy. Both male and female scouts have a positive outlook on Scouting and encourage others to participate. In addition, there is a Safe from Harm certificate given to each scout in order to protect children and young people inside or outside the Movement, so everyone can feel safe at any time.

During the pandemic, the scout movement was certainly not discouraged. They attended online meetings and seminars; however, if they had to meet face-to-face for meetings or outdoor activities, it would all be done within COVID-19 safety measures such as wearing masks, social distancing, etc. Not to mention that most of the activities were hikes and other outdoor activities organized in open spaces.

The Palestinian Scouts Association has and will always have an impactful effect on the community; especially, in light of the occupation. It is an essential part of Palestinian society, which builds character and skills within an individual and creates a united community.

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