Like many 20 and 30 somethings, young Israelis are frequent patrons of the after-work social scene. It is a casual environment where they can discuss anything and everything.
And that extends to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As part of OneVoice Israel’s mission to reach young Israeli centrists, the message of a two-state solution can now be heard in happy hour conversations around the country.
OVI’s first “Peace Pays Off at the Bar” - an expansion of "Peace, It Also Pays Off!" - took place at Tel Aviv’s The Little Prince on October 6. Over 70 young professionals packed bar to hear Col. (Ret.) Miri Eisin, a former Israeli communications officer, speak to the UN General Assembly speeches by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli relations with the Palestinians, and the media’s portrayal of the conflict. Each “Peace Pays Off at the Bar” event will feature an expert speaker to kick off the conversation.
Col. Eisin encouraged Israelis to learn about the other side’s perspective of the conflict, saying that “it’s possible to achieve a peace agreement, even though there is a lack of faith between the two parties, as long as you learn the other side’s narrative.”
Dan Shika, OVI’s new central regional director and organizer of the event, was fired up with the turnout and the speaker, particularly Col. Eisin's speech on the Israeli flag.
“[Col. Eisin] asked everyone what the Israeli flag meant to the Israeli people. Then she asked the crowd about what they thought their Arab neighbors perceived the Israeli flag to represent, and her response surprised many people, including me.
“She said a lot of Arabs, including Palestinians, see the Israeli flag as a symbol of Israel’s aspiration to colonize the Middle East between the Tigris, Euphrates, and the Nile – to become the historic Kingdom of Israel. Obliviously it’s not true, but the analogy works to help one look at the conflict from a view other than your own, which was the point of the discussion.”
Dan said that everyone in attendance enjoyed the event, so much so that more are planned in the near future, at bars and in activists’ homes for “Peace Pays Off at Home” socials.
Aaron Pilcher is OneVoice Israel's Fall 2014 intern.
Col. (Ret.) Eisin at The Little Prince, Oct. 6, 2014.
*Thumbnail - OVI Central Regional Coordinator Dan Shika addressing the crowd.