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Daily Summary: The Israeli Elections and News from Palestine

Dear Reader,

Below you will find a selection of articles about the Israeli elections and news from Palestine. Please note that this is a random collection of news articles intended to give a 'heads-up' about current affairs in Israel-Palestine. It is not meant to reflect the views of OneVoice. Readers are encouraged to investigate headline stories further in other news sources for a variety of perspectives.

1.23.15

Israeli Elections

Haaretz: ‘Don’t preach about Zionism’: Labor MK’s attack on Israeli right goes viral
The right-wing parties are 'scared because in the past two years we have exposed [their] corruption,' says Stav Shaffir in video of a Knesset speech that is making the rounds of social media.

TOI: New poll finds Likud, Zionist Camp neck and neck
Survey gives both parties 25 seats; Jewish Home stable at 16, new united Arab list to receive 12.

NYTimes, Jodi Rudoren: Israeli Arab political factions join forces to keep place in parliament
Facing an increased electoral threshold that threatens to bar small parties from Parliament, Israel’s Arab political factions announced on Friday the formation of a single ticket for the March elections.

+972, Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man: The ‘anti-Zionist’ camp goes mainstream in Israeli elections
Both Netanyahu and Livni are leveraging their international influence for electoral gain: Netanyahu in Congress and Livni at the United Nations. And, will the real Zionist camp please stand up?

+972, Mairav Zonszein: Arab parties announce joint slate for upcoming election
In a bid to remain relevant with an increased electoral threshold, the three Arab parties and Communist party Hadash are to run on one list in the March 17 elections.

Al-Monitor, Shlomi Eldar: Will a united Arab party survive elections?
Despite huge ideological gaps, Arab parties in Israel are trying to form a joint list for the election, but their traditional voter base might not follow.

Al-Monitor, Mazal Mualem: Instead of reform, Israeli candidates offer gimmicks
The current Israeli election campaign is stocked with politicians visiting the Jerusalem market, populist declarations after the Tel Aviv terror attack and embarrassing video clips, but no proposals for reform or any consolidated agenda.

Politics

JPost: Report: US officials warn breach of protocol could have consequences for Netanyahu
No indication of Netanyahu's visit or even the invitation by US house speaker John Boehner was mentioned in a recent meeting with the Israeli ambassador, a US source says.

Al-Monitor, Laura Rozen: Obama, Kerry freeze out Bibi over impromptu Hill visit
The upcoming meeting to reach an Iran nuclear deal raises tensions between the Obama administration and Israel.

West Bank/Settlements

BBC: The lost sons
This is an immersive story told through text, images and video, best viewed on an up-to-date browser.

1.22.15

Israeli Elections

+972, Yael Marom & Nadav Frankovich: Arab parties likely to announce historic joint election slate in coming days
Islamists, Marxists, women and Jews: The Arab parties have done the seemingly impossible and are likely announce a united election slate in the coming days.

Haaretz, Barak Ravid: Inviting Netanyahu to congress: a political blow to Herzog, Bennett and Obama
Netanyahu will use the speech to boost his election campaign while helping his Republican allies undercut Obama's efforts to secure an agreement with Iran.

Al-Monitor, Mazal Mualem: Israeli party lists show new names, little experience
Ahead of Israel's elections, many publicly unknown figures have been promised slots on different party lists, while the esteemed former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz was rejected and no leading municipal leader and few former generals were willing to join.

YNet, Orly Azoulay: With a little help from Netanyahu’s billionaire friends
The Republicans, who control the US Congress, have organized a visit for Israel's prime minister which is worth more than 1,000 political strategists and copywriters' brilliant ideas.

Politics

Vox, Max Fisher: John Boehner’s outrageous plan to help a foreign leader undermine Obama
House Speaker John Boehner has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress in February, on the topic of Iran. On the surface, this might seem innocent enough. Israel is a close American ally. Surely he should be welcome in Congress, particularly to discuss an issue that concerns his country.

Haaretz, Zvi Zrahiya: Knesset approves increase in minimum wage
Monthly salaries will rise to minimum of $1,270 a month by 2017; Histadrut: This is huge news for the 25% of salaried employees who will be affected.

TOI, AP & Lazar Berman: Obama won’t meet Netanyahu during Washington visit
After cold response to news of Congress address, White House cites principle of not meeting with world leaders before elections

Ma’an: Palestine, Russia sign bilateral agreements
Palestine and Russia signed two bilateral agreements on Thursday, Palestinian ambassador to Russia Faed Mustafa said.

Forward, David Goldiner: 6 things Barack would rather do than meet Bibi
It’s no secret that Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu don’t like each other. Not one little bit.

West Bank/Settlements

PNN: Security coordination with Israel hit zero, says PLO executive
PLO National and Central Council member, Ahmed Majdalani, today told PNNthat there was nothing left of the security coordination with Israeli occupation authorities, except for the civil related issues, for the benefit of the people, as in patient referrals and officials.

1.21.15

Israeli Elections

JPost, Niv Elis: Parties vie for credit as Knesset readies final minimum wage bill
Chaos erupted in the Knesset session as players from across the political spectrum lashed out at one another.

JPost, Gil Hoffman: Yesh Atid aims to woo Orthodox voters
Kahlon promises party won't be anti-religious.

Haaretz, Ravit Hecht: Zionist Camp’s ambiguity leaves Meretz a chance to shake its stupor
Labor-Hatnuah is maintaining an Israeli statesmanship-like stance, which unfortunately includes utter obeisance to the Moloch of security.

Haaretz, Chaim Levinson: Habayit Hayehudi candidate sought to block hiring of Arabs
Bezalel Smutrich, No. 9 on list, was co-founder of NGO that unsuccessfully pressured settlement council not to employ Arabs in 2011.

Haaretz, Jack Khoury: Israeli Arab parties poised to forge joint ticket for Knesset election
Any showing below 12 or 13 seats in the 120-seat parliament would be a failure, one party official says.

Forward, Elana Sztokman: A political tipping point for Ultra-Orthodox women?
There is a new feminist revolution happening in Israel, and it is emerging from one of the most surprising places: Ultra-Orthodoxy.

JPost, Lahav Harkov: Livni: Israeli citizens deserve to live safely in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and near the Gaza border
Hatnua leader Tzipi Livni reacted to the terror attack in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, saying "Israeli citizens deserve to live safely in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and near the Gaza border – everywhere in Israel and outside of it.

Al-Arabiya, Yossi Mekelberg: Israeli primaries are over, welcome to the main show
In less than two months Israeli citizens will once again have the privilege of electing representatives for their next parliament - the Knesset.

Politics

+972: Netanyahu blames Abbas for Tel Aviv stabbing attack
Palestinian man boards public bus during rush hour, stabbing at least 10 before being shot in the leg and apprehended.

Al-Monitor, Shlomi Eldar: Israeli Bedouin call for inquiry over police conduct
In an interview with Al-Monitor, Talal al-Krenawi, mayor of the Bedouin town Rahat, accuses the Israeli police of using unnecessary force in riots that erupted over the past two days instead of trying to calm the situation.

1.20.15

Israeli Elections

+972, Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man: Is the ICC running against Netanyahu in Israeli elections?
It’s election season: Israeli politicians are peddling pure spin about the ICC and possible war crimes investigations.

YNet, Nehama Duek: Meretz politicians discuss party’s future
Ilan Gilon, Michal Rozin, and Avi Dabush talk about the faction's image problem, why they don't want a united left-wing bloc, and what they hope to achieve 

TOI, Ben Sales: Candidates ask: Who answers the call?
Likud ad recalls 2008 HIllary Clinton spot, but Zionist Camp and Kulanu respond

JPost, Lahav Harkov: Analysis: Meretz plays inside baseball and strikes out
Opening up the party primary beyond its central committee could have brought fresh faces to the party's recycled list.

JPost, Lahav Harkov: Yisrael Beytenu tries to rebrand itself as ‘social’ via Levy-Abecasis
Levy-Abecasis denied that she is simply a fig leaf covering up for the party's lack of focus on such matters.

Haaretz: Israel’s pre-election aerial bombing
Evidence indicating that the strike on Syria stemmed from electoral considerations is weighty.

Politics

BBC, Yolande Knell: How Palestinian democracy has failed to flourish
In the main market of Qalqilya there is still the smell of spices and all the hustle and bustle that I remember from my first visit to the West Bank town 10 years ago.

Haaretz, Aaron Magid: A crisis in U.S.-Palestinian ties
Unlike the United States' harmless verbal attacks against Israel, its hostile actions against the Palestinians comprise a strategic threat, spawning an ever-low point in their relationship.

TOI, AFP: Abbas: Israel must choose between settlements and peace
In press conference with Japan’s Shinzo Abe, PA president condemns ‘despicable’ Islamic State threats against Japanese hostages

PNN: Foreign ministry condemns Israel’s calls to liquidate ICC
Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned, in a statement Monday, statements made by Israeli cabinet ministers, in which they called for liquidating the assets of the International Criminal Court upon its launching of a preliminary investigation into potential Israeli war crimes committed against Palestinians,WAFA news agency said. 

1.16.15

Israeli Elections

+972, Noam Sheizaf: Election analysis: A shared Netanyahu-Herzog government?
Herzog and Bibi’s political interests and the fragmented Knesset that is likely to emerge after the elections might force Likud and Labor into a power-sharing deal. Avigdor Liberman and President Rivlin already support the idea. 

YNet: New polls put center-left bloc ahead of Netanyahu’s Likud
Channel 10 poll gives center-left Zionist Camp 24 Knesset seats as opposed 20 for Likud; Channel 2 report gives bloc 25 and Likud 23; polls also says tides shifting against Netanyahu regards to personal choice for prime minister.

 Haaretz: The danger is too great: Arab parties must unite
Arab representation in the Knesset is threatened - and rising Jewish nationalism and racism may endanger Israeli Arabs' very future.

JPost, Gil Hoffman: Labor takes three-seat lead over Likud in latest ‘Post’ poll
Both Labor and Bayit Yehudi received boosts from their primaries this week.

TOI, Marissa Newman: Livni hints Zionist camp may not sit in coalition with Likud
Party’s No. 2 says unity government must have unified approach, and Netanyahu and Bennett’s way ‘is not our way’

JPost: Herzog, Livni vow to fight war crimes probe if elected
The joint Labor-Hatnua campaign headed by Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog released a statement on Friday vowing to resist any attempts by the International Criminal Court to haul Israeli officials and soldiers onto the dock for war crimes if elected.

Politics

Wafa: Abbas hints at dissolving PA should status quo persist
In response to financial crisis gripping the Palestinian Authority, President Mahmoud Abbas Thursday hinted that he would dissolve the PA. 

WaPo, William Booth & Ruth Eglash: In Israel, debate over whether French Jews should come—or stay home
Soon after four Jewish men were killed in a hostage-taking siege at a kosher market in Paris last week, the Israeli leadership leapt to offer refuge.

Al-Monitor, Daoud Kuttab: Palestinians to give UNSC bid another shot
The Arab League has backed Palestinian calls for another attempt at the UN Security Council, with the Palestinians confident they can secure the needed votes after the changeover of seats.

TOI, Justin Jalil & AFP: FM calls to dismantle ICC after launch of ‘war crimes’ probe
Liberman slams ‘scandalous’ decision; Netanyahu accuses International Criminal Court of being ‘part of the problem’

1.15.15

Israeli Elections

JPost, Lahav Harkov: Analysis: The National Religious party by any other name
Despite Bennett's best efforts, the Bayit Yehudi's new list is one in which legendary party leader and education minister Zevulun Hammer wouldn't feel uncomfortable.

Haaretz,Zvi Zrahiya: Social justice issues taking center stage in Israel election campaign
Labor, Kulanu and Yesh Atid place socioeconomic policies at top of priorities

Haaretz, Jonathan Lis: Netanyahu joins Bennett’s attack: Labor list is radical left, anti-Zionist
Habayit Hayehudi published a series of posters with the images of top Labor Knesset candidates along with quotes against symbols in the Zionist consensus.

Al-Monitor, Akiva Eldar: Meretz party: Victim of its own convictions
The left-wing Meretz Party suffers from a negative image among Jewish voters, but its greatest problem is speaking the truth and daring to criticize the government even at times of military conflict.

Haaretz, Jonathan Lis: Lieberman reveals campaign slogan: ‘Ariel for Israel; Umm al-Fahm for Palestine’
New party list to be revealed next week, Yisrael Beiteinu chairman announces.

TOI, Haviv Rettig Gur: The dark side of Labor’s upbeat primary
Isaac Herzog has led Labor to impressive heights in national polls ahead of the March elections. So why didn’t he get his own way with his party’s shrinking base?

Politics

Al-Jazeera: UN asks Israel to unlock Palestine tax funds
Senior UN official says Israel's freeze of $127m owed to Palestinian Authority is in violation of Oslo peace agreement.

Al-Arabiya, Reuters: Arab states endorse new Palestinian move at U.N. Security Council
Arab foreign ministers on Thursday endorsed a Palestinian plan to resubmit a draft resolution to the U.N. Security Council calling for Israel to withdraw from occupied territories by late 2017.

Ma’an: Arab League to push for new Palestinian UN resolution
The Arab League said on Thursday it will seek to shore up international support for another attempt to obtain a UN resolution on ending Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands.

YNet, AFP & Itamar Eichner: Swedish foreign minister not welcome in Israel, official says
'The Swedish foreign minister would not have been given any official meetings in Israel if she had traveled here. What Sweden did was an utterly unfriendly action,' Foreign Ministry spokesperson says.

West Bank/Settlements

PNN: Israel approved 16, 716 settlement units in 2014
"The Israeli government approved schemes for building 16,716 new settlement units in 33 settlements during 2014," the officer in charge of the settlement file in the northern West Bank, Ghassan Daghlas, said.

Gaza

Ma’an: Hamas official: Abbas part of the blockade on Gaza
Palestinian MP Fathi Hammad said Wednesday that the unity government and President Mahmoud Abbas are part of the siege on Gaza and an obstacle for reconstruction of the war-torn territory.

Al-Jazeera, Megan O’Toole & Konstantinos Antonopoulos: Anatomy of a Gaza smuggling tunnel
As Egypt destroys tunnels linking the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula, Al Jazeera examines the economic impact.

TOI, Avi Issacharoff: Hamas hardliner runs secret Gaza terror cells targeting Fatah
Islamist terror group’s former interior minister, Fatahi Hamad, seen behind recent series of bombings, aims to prevent Palestinian unity progress

1.14.15

Israeli Elections

Haaretz, Ilan Lior: Kahlon: There is no Palestinian partner for peace, Jerusalem will remain unified
Kulanu leader has recently portrayed himself as the real, moderate Likud, but in an interview with Haaretz he outlines a hawkish agenda.

JPost, Gil Hoffman: Analysis: Labor members send Palestinians a memo
In Tuesday's primary, Labor members made it clear: We are back dealing with ourselves and our wallets again. Socioeconomic issues will come first.

JPost, Gil Hoffman: Labor renames itself after choosing socioeconomic list
They decided that the combined list would be called Hamahane Hatzioni in Hebrew. Its English name has not been decided yet.

JPost, Lahav Harkov: Long lines of Bayit Yehudi members wait to elect new party slate
Voter turnout rate for the primary was fifty seven percent.

JPost, Niv Elis & Lahav Harkov: Kahlon wants to be finance minister
Koolanu leader won't agree to pre-67 lines or divide Jerusalem and says Abbas not a partner for peace; "Likud abandoned social issues – I am a Begin Likudnik."

+972, Sinai Peter: Should a join Arab list trump Jewish-Arab unity? Not so fast
The temptation of the Arab parties to unite in order to form a stronger political bloc is great. Everyone wants to give Liberman the election surprise of a lifetime. But what is the cost?

YNet, Roee Mendel: Kahlon: Netanyahu, Lapid, and Bennett to blame for high living costs
Kulanu party chairman explains in interview with Ynet that Likud 'moved away from its social position', slams Netanyahu for not doing enough to resolve social difficulties: 'We are measured by the results we achieve, not by words or Facebook posts'.

YNet, Ariella Ringel-Hoffman: ‘Zionism is over, Israel at critical juncture’
Avraham Burg, once speaker of the Knesset and deputy president, is voting for the communist Hadash party in the next elections; in 20 years, he says, Israel will be in a confederation with Palestine or a fundamentalist religious republic.

TOI, Itamar Sharon: High court rejects bid to annul 3.25% Knesset threshold
Justices cite proximity to general election and suggest petitioners make fresh attempt ahead of next election

TOI, Lazar Berman: Kahlon says his party will back peace, but there’s ‘no partner’
Kulanu chairman blames Netanyahu, Lapid, and Bennett for economic woes, promises party will sit in next government

Politics

TOI, AFP: Hamas MPs meet, slam Abbas in sign of Palestinian rifts
Representative of Gaza-based group emphasizes that president has no authority to forbid assembly of parliament

Ma’an: Israel extends administrative detention orders of 30 detainees
Israeli authorities renewed the administrative detention orders of 30 Palestinian detainees on Wednesday, a lawyer from the Palestinian Prisoner's Society said.

YNet, Itamar Eichner: US consulate to arm Palestinian guards in spite of Israeli law
Plan to give 35 Palestinian security guards weapons draws fire from Israeli guards, who quit in protest.

Gaza

Ma’an: Hamas officials reactivate separate parliament in Gaza
Hamas-affiliated parliament members in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday reactivated the coastal enclave's parliament, which had been suspended since a unity deal between Fatah and Hamas was agreed upon in April.

TOI, AFP: Hamas official warns Gaza becoming ‘ripe for terrorism’
Islamist group MP says international community must accelerate rebuilding of Strip or else extremism will spread.

23 January 2015 See Post

First English-Language “Peace Pays off at the Bar” a Success

OneVoice Israel’s (OVI) successful “Peace Pays Off at the Bar” events continued on January 6, when 150 people from Israel’s vibrant international community packed the Casa Veranda bar in Tel Aviv to learn about what it will take for peace between Israel and Palestine.

Americans, Russians, Norwegians, Brits, Germans and other internationals stood elbow-to-elbow at OVI’s inaugural English bar event organized and led by OVI intern Sharon Siegel. The audience listened intently to event speaker Gershon Baskin as he described his diplomatic experience and relationships with the people of Palestine. He endorsed a negotiated two-state solution as the only way to move forward with a peace agreement.

Baskin, a man passionate about this topic, said that the majority of the Palestinian people want peace and support a two-state solution. “What I'm saying is that this is doable; what we know about public opinion research is that the majority of Israelis and the majority of Palestinians would accept an agreement if they believed that there was a partner for peace on the other side.”

He went on to indict the current government in Israel for failing to make negotiations with the Palestinians a priority. “Israel is a start-up nation,” he said, “and we're a country that puts out new patents every morning. But on the issue most important to us, what puts lives on the line every day, we have zero initiative, and that's on Netanyahu.”

Baskin inspired hope for peace as well. “The amazing thing about human beings is our capacity to learn from our mistakes. There's no reason to think that in a negotiated agreement they'll go the same way and we'll make the same mistakes.”

At the end of his talk, Baskin turned toward the topic of Israel’s upcoming elections. “On March 17, we have to get out the vote. On March 17, we have to make a change. We as Israelis have a responsibility to bring home a government that will return to serious negotiations with the Palestinians.

“This is life and death. It matters for every single one of us, and every single one of us can make a difference,” he concluded.

After Baskin’s talk, he opened the floor for questions from the crowded room. After answering questions on topics like Hamas, the rise of radical Islam, and the current unrest in the West Bank, an audience member named David finally asked, “I wonder if you have any hope for March? Do you believe there’s a viable candidate to challenge Netanyahu?”

“I believe there is a chance that the next government will be headed by Isaac Herzog,” Baskin responded, “and if we want to have a center-left government, we need to convince people that there is hope. When people don't have hope, they vote for people like Netanyahu.”

At the end of this very successful event, OneVoice gained many new supporters from all across the international community. Alisa, a production manager from Russia, said, “it was an amazing event and I'm grateful I came here because I heard a different perspective than I've heard over the last few months. I've heard over and over that there is no partner for peace. This is the first time I've heard from someone I respect that peace is possible. This makes me want to move forward more and spread this farther.”

Gershon Baskin mingles with event particpants during OVI's "Peace Pays Off at the Bar" event.

Gershon Basken (center), with OVI staff from left to right: intern Aaron Pilcher, Project Manager Elanit Green, intern and event organizer Sharon Siegel, OVI activist Roise Perper, and intern Eric Canosa.

12 January 2015 See Post

Palestinian Activists Illuminate Bethlehem with Christmas Eve Popular Resistance

Christmas Eve is a day of celebration for many around the globe, and thousands of people from all walks of life flock to Bethlehem’s Manger Square to take in the sights of the season. OneVoice Palestine saw the day as primed for mass public engagement and sent 80 of our best youth leaders from 22 chapters in the West Bank to promote popular resistance against the occupation and conflict among the crowd.

Preparations for this event took place weeks ahead of Christmas Eve, with the staff and volunteers meeting, discussing, and planning to execute what turned to be one of OVP’s biggest events in years.

OVP coordinated with the chapter heads of Bethlehem, Hebron, Nablus, and Jericho, and it would be a lie to say there wasn’t any pressure on the staff. There were legitimate concerns about logistics and safety. Adding to the pressure was the known presence of media outlets from local agencies and news reporters from around the globe. We needed to present OneVoice’s message and vision for nonviolent activism and the two-state solution in the best way possible. We needed to paint an inspirational image for thousands of Palestinians and tourists visiting Bethlehem on Christmas Eve.

Early Wednesday morning, the youth leaders arrived in OVP’s office in Bethlehem. All donned a specially designed sweatshirt that encouraged tourists to speak to their communities about Palestine through acknowledging Palestinian rights of freedom and self-determination. OneVoice staff briefed the youth leaders about the program and divided them into small groups to reach the most people. The staff and youth leaders walked the main street of Bethlehem wearing Palestinian keffiyehs, checkered black and white scarves that are a symbol of Palestinian nationalism and an icon of Palestinian solidarity.

When we reached Manger Square, morale was high. We wanted this event to succeed, but more importantly we wanted our voices to be heard. We set up a small stand with fliers and coffee. The coffee cups carried the OneVoice logo and messages from our previous “Wake Up! What is Your Role?” campaign. We printed and handed out hundreds of brochures and “passports” with clear messages about non-violent activism, the two-state solution, the Arab Peace Initiative, and a message from our staff and youth leaders to the international community to recognize Palestine as a state on the 1967 borders.

Palestinians visiting Bethlehem found the event intriguing. They asked the youth leaders about the logo and the initiative. OneVoice offered the crowd coffee and engaged many in long conversations about Palestinian national interests. In some cases the conversation turned into long debates about the Palestinian leadership’s vision and non-violent activism. Not all Palestinians we met in Bethlehem showed support for our work, but the majority was pleased by the youth leaders’ enthusiasm and courage.

The event was remarkable. The keffiyehs were everywhere and the passports were a big hit; everyone wanted one! Internationals nodded in approval and encouraged the youth leaders to continue down the path of non-violent activism. They took photos with our activists and one in particular was shouting “two-states” at the camera! Local media outlets followed us around, too. They interviewed OVP Executive Director Samer Makhlouf and senior activist Raya Fatayer. Two hours later we ran out of passports! We were also running low on fliers. We didn’t anticipate how huge the crowd was.

Afterward, the youth leaders marched back to our office, exhausted but very proud of what we accomplished. For many youth leaders it was an extraordinary experience. For others it was a quick stop to refuel. As for the staff, we are excited for the next step. OneVoice generated momentum that day. It was a much needed win to ignite hope and a reminder why we all love doing what we do.

We dined as a team later that evening. OneVoice staff thanked everyone and reminded them why our work is important. We also took the opportunity to give out certificates to the youth leaders who participated in our training program, and celebrated the hard work of our senior youth leaders who had a wonderfully constructive year. That evening, we looked around the room and saw hope in the eyes of our youth leaders. OVP’s community shined as a great example of what hard work, popular resistance, and a simple idea can accomplish.

Wasim Almasri is OneVoice Palestine's Communications Officer.

30 December 2014 See Post

Candles Shine on Peace Talk Social at Haifa Bar

On December 25, OneVoice Israel (OVI) hosted its inaugural “Peace Pays Off at the Bar” event in Haifa at the Syncopa Bar. Despite a power outage in the neighborhood, 160 participants from all walks of life came out, making it the largest bar event to date – with or without electricity!

“Peace Pays Off at the Bar” is an expansion of OVI’s "Peace, It Also Pays Off!" campaign, which asked Israelis to consider how they would rather spend 32 billion shekels—the amount the conflict costs Israel each year at the expense of social and economic programs. 

Participants had the pleasure to hear MK Ilan Gilon and Professor Danny Gutwein speak. MK Gilon (Meretz) was deputy mayor of Ashdod as well as member of the Labor, Welfare, and Health Committee. He was chairman of both the subcommittee for pension plans and the subcommittee of the Knesset for disabled access. Professor Gutwein, a Haifa resident since birth and an associate professor at Haifa University, served as head of the Department of the History of Israel and is a member of the University Senate. Prof. Gutwein deals with economic and social issues: focusing on inequality, the dismantling of the welfare state, and the connection between the occupation and privatization.

Both men spoke about the social issues plaguing Israel and how the upcoming elections are so important in making a difference in improving these problems. In addition, they discussed the rise in settlement building and how much of an effect it has on the Israeli economy.

“The settlement enterprise is a compensation mechanism to the collapse of the welfare state,” Prof. Gutwein stated. “When the country eliminates social services within the country it invests more in the settlements. We don't have public housing, but the settlements are so cheap. As we undermine the welfare within Israel the settlements in the West Bank get stronger.”

Ilan Gilon had strong words on the topics of social justice and racism saying, “We are surrounded by racism in Israel where people don't rent to Ethiopian, Arab, and gay citizens. We have to change this.” He also addressed the upcoming elections. “The fight in this election is to be released from the occupation and give the country back to most of its citizens…People separate their political agenda from their social agenda but in my view there is no distinction; my political outlook stems from the concept of a social world.”

Special guest Shevach Weiss, former member of Knesset and Speaker of the Knesset during Yitzhak Rabin’s second government, attended the event and stated his belief that “the upcoming elections have the momentum to bring about peace.”

The large turnout and positive response to this Haifa Peace Pays off at the Bar event marks it as an accomplishment in the path toward public engagement and peace. Yonie, a student from Haifa University, said “this event was very worthwhile; I enjoyed myself and learned a lot from both the speakers. I intend to participate in more OVI events.”

OVI plans to hold more events with the hopes for even larger audiences in the near future.

Aaron Pilcher and Sharon Siegel and interns at OneVoice Israel.

Scene from the candle-lit Syncopa Bar during the OVI event.

MK Ilan Gilon (center) with Professor Danny Gutwein (left).

OVI northern regional director Nimrod Barnea (standing top right) with MK Ilan Gilon (center) with Professor Danny Gutwein (left).

29 December 2014 See Post

Final 2014 OVE Tour a Record-Breaker Despite Feeling Regional Reverberations

OneVoice Europe (OVE) dedicated eight November days to talk diplomacy, conflict resolution, and the importance of non-violent activism with 732 London, Birmingham, and Leicester residents – an OVE record – in the last Outreach and Education tour of the year.

Keren Nebenhaus of OneVoice Israel and a representative from OneVoice Palestine traveled with OVE’s Education Director Sharon Alsoodani to mosques, synagogues, and universities in search of proactive and productive discussions that challenged traditional stereotypes of Israelis among British citizens.

Beginning in the London Central Mosque, OVE shared a platform with speaker and Founder of Building Bridges for Peace, Jo Berry. Berry talked reconciliation and her own experience of meeting Pat Magee, the Irish Republican Army member who killed her father in 1984.

“When I met [Pat], I wanted to see him as a real human being,” Jo said. “I remember thinking: ‘He doesn’t look like a terrorist’ – he had a sensitivity about him and an understanding of the seriousness of the situation. But in planting that bomb, in using violence, he lost some of his humanity.”

The mosque invited Jo to talk about what lessons could be learned from the Northern Ireland experience for those involved in the Israel-Palestine peace process. This approach resonated with the audience – the discussion went on longer than planned as mosque members were so keen to ask questions of the OneVoice activists after the talk.

Other stops on the London leg of the tour included the Liberal Jewish Synagogue, the Al-Hikma Islamic School, and the University College School Jewish Society. Most audience members across both Jewish and Muslim groups said they felt a personal connection with the conflict, spurring the huge amount of interest in the regional speakers. It was clear that, whatever their views, young people in the UK are open to hearing from the other side; indeed, that they want to find a way to understand with them. At the Chingford Foundation School, one pupil said: “All religions value forgiveness and we need to let [hate and mistrust] go and all sit down and communicate.”

Parts of the tour were impacted by the violence in the region. Our event at Kings College was cancelled after four rabbis were murdered in Jerusalem, and as a result the students felt it was an inappropriate time to discuss peace. There can be no better illustration of the way in which violence shuts down dialogue, stifling voices for peace – it was a sobering reminder of how hard we have to work.

At the Leicester Doc Media Group, an organization that arranges local film festivals and promotes citizen journalism, we put on a small event with an audience desperate for the opportunity to vent their frustrations on this issue. The attendees were very interested in meeting with an Israeli to counter the stereotypes they read about in the news.  We discussed the possibility of making a solidarity film as well as other forms of activism in the future. Organiser John Coster, in his fifth year running the Leicester Docfilm Festival, is keen to invite OneVoice back as part of a tour based in the Midlands, and discussions are underway.

As the tour came to a close, Keren reflected on her time in the UK.

“I learned that it's very common to dehumanize someone that you don't know, and therefore it's important to insist on constantly challenging perceptions of ‘the other side,’” Keren said. “Ignorance can turn the best intentions into a danger. It reinforced my belief that people are not good or bad - they are simply human.”

The OVE tour is something completely unique in the UK, offering young people a different, more active way to get involved in the conflict, a very painful topic for many of them. It is our hope there will be some more positive developments for students to lend their support to in 2015.

The Moseley School session during the OVE November Outreach and Education Tour.

Feature Image: Students with OVE Director Sharon Alsoodani (left) and Keren (back) at the Al-Hikma Islamic School.

16 December 2014 See Post

OneVoice on the Death of Palestinian Minister Ziad Abu Ein

OneVoice is saddened and deeply troubled by the death of Palestinian Authority minister Ziad Abu Ein, at a nonviolent protest in Area C of the West Bank yesterday. The circumstances surrounding this tragedy are deeply disturbing. Nobody should lose their life at a non-violent protest, and we condemn any actions that may have contributed to this tragedy.   

Ziad had participated in OneVoice Palestine's tree planting initiative in Salfeet in November, and was a stalwart supporter of non-violence and of a two-state solution. Poignantly, mere days ago he posted a Facebook status congratulating our activists on their non-violent activism (see below). The thoughts and prayers of our staff and youth leaders are with his family.

Most importantly, we call on all those in Israel and Palestine to refrain from acts that might inflame tensions, and to use these tragic events to push for what Ziad Abu Ein was out on that hilltop yesterday to accomplish: an end to occupation and violence, and the achievement of a two-state solution.

11 December 2014 See Post

“Peace Pays Off at the Bar” Quenches Israeli Thirst for Politics

OneVoice Israel (OVI) hosted its first “Peace Pays Off at the Bar” gathering outside of Tel Aviv at the Agnes Bar in Hod Hashoron. The December 1 social event, featuring guest speaker Gershon Baskin, was successful in engaging a new swath of the Israeli public at a time when political upheaval has taken Israel by storm.

The Agnes was packed wall-to-wall with 50 people, the crowd representing all aspects of Israeli society. Baskin, an OVI board member and the founder and co-chairman of the Israel-Palestine Creative Regional Initiative (IPCRI), spoke to a wide variety of issues relating to the peace process and about his many years of experience working with Israelis and Palestinians – publicly and privately – to promote understanding of both narratives in the conflict. Baskin is well known for his keen political insight and his secret back-channel meetings between Israel and Hamas that successfully negotiated the release of Israeli solider Pvt. Gilad Shalit.

“We got very close to an agreement with the Palestinians, at least twice before,” Baskin told the audience. “Today, many of them have lost faith in reaching an agreement with us. [But] the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be solved.”

“As an Israeli citizen who loves this place and is proud to be an Israeli, there is no other place I would want to live. The conflict is resolvable and we can reach a formula acceptable to both nations. We have people who agree to the outline of a peace based on two states.”

“Peace Pays Off at the Bar” is an expansion of OVI’s "Peace, It Also Pays Off!" campaign, which asked Israelis to consider how they would rather spend 32 billion shekels—the amount the conflict costs Israel each year at the expense of social and economic programs. The first “Peace Pays Off at the Bar” event took place at the Little Prince in Tel Aviv on October 6 that saw Col. (Ret.) Miri Eisin speak to 70 people.

Dan Shika, OVI’s Central Regional Director, commented on the prospects of spreading “Peace at the Bar” beyond Tel Aviv, saying, “This was my first event held outside of Tel Aviv and I am very pleased that we were able to get the OVI message to 50 new people and hopefully by word of mouth our message will continue to spread throughout the area.”

Dan Shika

Above: OVI Central Regional Director Dan Shika introduces Gershon Baskin at The Agnes Bar on December 1.

Aaron Pilcher is OneVoice Israel's Fall 2014 intern

05 December 2014 See Post

Unlocking Peace: Play Your #GivingTuesday Role

What is #GivingTuesday? What is OneVoice? Learn how you can play your role to end the occupation and conflict in Israel and Palestine! Support the noble efforts of our youth leaders engaging their respective peoples in this very important conversation. Check out this informative SlideShare presentation to learn more!

 

02 December 2014 See Post

Israeli-Arab Outreach Fosters Mutual Need For Peace

“There is no other way but to live together. It is impossible not to make peace.” - Samir Hussein, Deir Hanna Municipality

The citizens of Sakhnin, a village in northern Israel, are predominately Arab. They are part of an Israeli-Arab demographic of 2 million – one-fifth of Israel’s population.

The importance of Israel’s Arab community in the discussion of peace and social justice is not lost on OneVoice Israel (OVI) staff. On November 20, Regional Director Nimrod Barnea and intern Aaron Pilcher drove up north to speak to these very issues.

“Relations with Israeli Arabs are imperative for OVI, and we do have Arab Israeli activists in our campus recruiting work,” said Nimrod. “These relations help us learn more about the other narratives and social struggles within Israel.”

Fifteen people from local municipalities and various peace organizations attended the meeting in Sakhnin, including the village’s mayor, Mazin G'Nayem.

“Our leaders think that the land is more valuable than human life and we need to change that,” Mayor G’Nayem said. “We [take to the streets and] demonstrate for two things: peace with our Palestinian brothers and peace with our Jewish brothers.”                 

Neta Peleg from Kibbutz Be’eri, a southern Israeli community near the Gaza border, said, “If we continue to keep silent, we let the extremists from both sides win and they will push us farther into the conflict. We cannot allow this to happen.  All of us should use our voices and speak out against them. We should not let the extremists run or lives.”

This was a very unique opportunity for OVI. It was a chance to hear voices outside the Israeli mainstream, and it was amazing to see that in spite of the violence happening around the country and in Palestine, there are still voices for peace. OVI has not participated in an event like this in the past year, but plans to host similar meetings with members of the Israeli-Arab community – outreach that must be done regularly to foster understanding and trust within Israeli society.

“This gathering proves there is hope; it warms one’s heart,” said Dacwar Edgar, head of the Fassuta Municipality, toward the end of the meeting. “I wish to close with a message of peace, equality, and togetherness.  This is the only way we will succeed. We should leave here in partnership. There is no other way.”

01 December 2014 See Post

UK Supporters! Join OneVoice in the Big Give December 4-6!

On Thursday 4th December at 10am UK time all donations to OneVoice will be DOUBLED!!!

Join OneVoice in The Big Give - the UK's largest online charitable giving platform during the largest minutes of online giving. Donations are matched on a first come, first served basis on 4th, 5th and 6th of December at 10am UK time.
 
FUNDS RUN OUT IN MINUNTES! You must make your online donation as close to 10am on these three mornings as possible!
 
26 November 2014 See Post

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