OneVoice Movement

OneVoice is an international grassroots movement that amplifies the voice of mainstream Israelis and Palestinians, empowering them to propel their elected representatives toward the two-state solution.

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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

Recruitment Season Begins on Israeli Campuses

In late October, OneVoice Israel Northern Regional Director Nimrod Barnea woke up at 4 AM to gather OVI staff and activists outside Haifa University. The university does not allow political activity on campus during the first week of classes, so Nimrod and his team scouted out the best spots right off campus in the pre-dawn hours. When the sun finally rose, it shone on an array of OVI banners, which got peace on students’ minds even before OVI could engage with them.

“The work that students are doing through OneVoice affects not only their lives, but our entire society’s way of life,” said Nimrod. “It is inspiring and challenging at the same time.”

This marked the beginning of OVI college campus recruitment and events across Israel.

Central Regional Director Dan Shika assembled a team to recruit on different campuses in the Tel Aviv area, including Tel Aviv University, The Academic Institute of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, and Seminar Hakibbutzim.

Dan also led a campaign to petition Bar Ilan University to allow an OVl chapter to operate there. Bar Ilan does not allow a political organization to operate on campus until it has submitted a petition with 100 student signatures. Dan and his team were required to set up 50 feet away from the main entrance, and within a few days met the requirement.

As of November 13, OneVoice’s efforts on campuses around Israel resulted in the collection of nearly 300 “Add Your Voice” cards, which are ways for students and members of the public to get more information about OVI and its activities.

OVI organized several opening events on campuses to draw in student activists and increase the movement’s visibility. Famous Israeli singer Achinoam ‘Noa’ Nini was the guest speaker for the opening event at Seminar Hakibbutzim. Noa anchored a round-table discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the work OneVoice is doing to solve it.

Noa at OneVoice Israel Seminar Hakibbutzim

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Noa at Seminar Hakibbutzim.

“The media will report any drop of blood that happens in Israel, but they will not report on the peaceful things that activist groups such as OneVoice are doing,” Noa said.

“We must find a long-term solution and reach the goal of two states for two nations,” said one student who attended the event, “and we must stop the frightening rise of radicalism.”

The opening event at Tel Aviv University featured guest speaker Nadav Eyal, the Foreign Affairs Editor at Channel 10 News. Fifty students attended the event and Eyal called on them to put pressure on politicians to achieve the change they want to see.

“To reach people we need to address what people need in their everyday life and make them feel hope. To change our reality we need to put massive political pressure on the leaders. It is the only way, and it's our job to do it,” Eyal said.

At the Academic Institute of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, a discussion featured Col. (ret.) Miri Eisin, who served in the Israeli intelligence community. Eisin brought her 12-year-old daughter along to the event, illustrating the effect that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has on Israel’s youth.

“Get involved with the peace process, no matter how,” Eisin said. “Volunteer with OneVoice, or find another way to contribute, but the important thing is to get involved now.”

Southern Regional Director Shiran Meir organized a women’s panel at Ben Gurion University in Be’er Sheva. Head of the Be’er Sheva Regional Council, Sigal Moran, and former Member of Knesset and Israeli diplomat, Colette Avital, were the featured speakers, and the host was OneVoice Israel Board Member Ady Balderman. Fifty students attended the event.

“Participants told me that the event was interesting and important,” said Shiran.“ Some are skeptical of the peace process, but this event gave them the feeling that there is hope.”

Colette Avital shared her perspective on the peace process with the gathered students. “Israel was created because of a small number of people with a strong vision. Support slowly grew around them. Working toward the two-state solution, you may feel like you are in the minority. But keep doing the work, and you will see the support slowly grow around you.”

OneVoice Israel Women's Panel at Ben Gurion

Feature image: Northern Regional Director Dan Shika outside Tel Aviv University.

Above: Women's Panel at Ben Gurion University.

Eric Canosa is a OneVoice Israel Intern.

24 November 2014 See Post

Protesting Israeli Land Confiscation With Palestinian Roots

The land near the village of Beit Oula, north of Hebron, is a hot-bed for Israeli settler attacks and land confiscations. Not long ago, the Israeli government issued permits to take more than 1,500 dunams of agricultural land from the area, making the majority of those lands fully isolated behind the wall on the Israeli side.

To combat this and assert Palestinian rights to their own land, OneVoice Palestine (OVP) and 150 youth activists and community members made a powerful statement on November 15, planting 200 olive trees to protest the confiscation and expansion of settlements.

Due to security concerns, OVP staff discussed canceling the event, but decided to carry on with the activity to emphasize the importance of non-violent activism and promote popular peaceful resistance among young Palestinians. Safety was paramount during the activity.

“Nothing can stop us from dreaming of establishing our state on the 1967 borders,” said Fayez. “We will continue the struggle to achieve our dream of self-determination.”

Samer Makhlouf, Executive Director of OVP, added that the initiative comes several days after the passing of the late Palestinian President, Yasser Arafat.

“The declaration of independence represents a quantum leap in the struggle of Palestinians against the occupation and has put Palestine on the world’s map,” said Makhlouf. “It emphasizes our legitimate rights of liberation, dignity, and self-determination. This activity is a clear message from the Palestinian youth that the occupation must not remain cheap and Israel must pay the price of freedom as our people continue the legitimate struggle to achieve the dream of an independent Palestinian state.”

For many young volunteers, the initiative made a huge impact. OVP’s youth leader Ahmad from Halhoul village was very excited to be part of a community that supports non-violent activism.

“I am glad I showed up today,” said Ahmad, “because being here with all these people from different religions and backgrounds shows that we are on the right track toward ending the occupation.”

The activity also brought the local farming community closer with OVP’s activists. Youth leaders and staff members shared stories with the farmers about the land and the harvest season. The farmers were grateful for our help. They thanked us and wished we will visit more often, and OVP promised it will.

It was clear that this experience will remain in the hearts of our youth leaders for days to come. While the small group of volunteers from Hebron who, despite their concerns, marched with OVP that day, the truth remains: OVP faces its biggest challenge to promote non-violent activism since the recent Israeli war in Gaza. What lies ahead will take courage, determination, and just the right amount of hope. 

18 November 2014 See Post

OneVoice Condemns Recent Despicable Attacks

The OneVoice Movement is united in its condemnation of recent despicable attacks and the dangerous cycle of violence that risks enveloping the region. Attacks and provocations at synagogues or at the Temple Mount/Haram al Sharif are by their very nature designed to play on peoples’ worst fears and aggravate religious and communal tensions in a city that Christians, Jews, and Muslims are fated to share. Moderate Israelis and Palestinians must use their power to seize the agenda from the extremists and deliver what majorities on both sides want and what is necessary for peace to prevail: an end to occupation and conflict through the two-state solution.
 
18 November 2014 See Post

Politics, Economics, & Activism Align at OneVoice Israel’s “Peace Pays Off?” Conference

What is the economic cost of Israel’s conflict with Palestine and the larger Arab world? Can the Israeli economy – and society – survive the bloated defense budget, the flow of funds toward settlements, and the increasingly significant blows to Israel's image on the world stage as a result of the ongoing occupation?

These were the central questions at OneVoice Israel’s “Peace Pays Off?” conference at the Einav Center in Tel Aviv on Thursday, November 13. 

Over 500 Israelis packed the auditorium to hear political heavyweights like Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni, Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog, and former Shin Bet chief Yaacov Peri speak to these pressing issues. Mohammed Darawshe, OneVoice Co-Founder and Director Planning, Equality and Shared Society at Givat Haviva; U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro; Meretz Leader MK Zehava Galon;  journalists Ben Caspit and Narhum Barnea; and many others also spoke.

“We are isolated and cut off,” Livni told Barnea. “I used to think investing in settlements and in the periphery doesn’t contradict – I was wrong. Money for settlements at the expense of developing towns is throwing money in the trash. We must create a process to decrease flames and go back into dialogue and negotiations with the Arab world and with the Palestinians.”

Livni’s statement complemented the presentation by the AIX Group, a joint Israeli-Palestinian think tank, which revealed its new findings that the conflict costs Israel between 7% and 13% of its GDP and that 15% of Israelis’ income is spent on security.

OVI Executive Director Polly Bronstein summed up the conference: “There is no short cut: the conflict is costing us a fortune, both economically and socially, and until we resolve it, we can never be the exemplar-state we want to be.”

Behind the scenes, in the lobby, and throughout the Einav Center’s halls, OVI staff, activists, and volunteers mingled with the public and spoke to OVI’s current initiatives, such as “Peace Pays Off at Home,” “Peace Pays Off at the Bar,” and the Knesset Fellowship Program. OneVoice activists Shay Gal and Michal Katoshevski called for conference attendees to join the movement by participating in an event in their community.

It was clear that some people came in support of peace but were unsure about the peace process, exemplifying the skepticism that is pervasive on both sides of the Green Line. “Can we trust the Arabs to build a stable democracy?” wondered a local man from Tel Aviv. “I just don’t know.”

Despite this uncertainty, vibes of positivity flowed from many attendees.

“It’s refreshing to hear people speaking so sanely about the conflict,” said Adit from Tel Aviv. “I’m so happy I came,” said another attendee. “I feel inspired. I’m staying for the second half of the conference, and I want to learn more about how I can get involved with OneVoice. I would definitely come to another conference like this.”

“Even though I find myself on the verge of despair sometimes, I won’t give up no matter what,” said OneVoice activist Ataret Horowitz. “One of the most important things is my passion for OneVoice. I hope that living as an advocate for the cause of peace will inspire others to take a stand.”

The conference presented a much needed message to the Israeli public: that peace pays off, both financially and ethically. Attendees left galvanized toward the cause of peace and with practical ideas about how they can support the two-state solution between Palestine and Israel.

“It’s been hard work,” said Anat Goichman, Jerusalem Regional Director, “but I think the event was a great success. A lot of people came out and showed a lot of interest in the conference and in OneVoice. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes out of this.”

For  more images from the conference, please see our gallery or Facebook pages.

OneVoice Israel recruitment booth outside the Einav center.

Tzipi Livni talks settlements with Narhum Barnea.

Peri and Caspit speak to the economics of peace.

Packed house at the Einav Center.

OVI activists

OVI staff, volunteers, and activists working the conference.

 

Eric Canosa is a OneVoice Israel intern.

Photo credit: Dafna Talmon

17 November 2014 See Post

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