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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Daily Summary: News from Israel and Palestine

Dear Reader,

Below you will find a selection of articles from Israel and 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.

6.30.15

Politics

Times of Israel, Avi Lewis: Israel expels 3 Gaza flotilla activists after interception
Tunisia’s ex-president among those deported; Knesset member Basel Ghattas to face possible parliamentary sanctions

Times of Israel, Avi Lewis: Hamas blasts UN Gaza war report…for pro-Israel bias
Terror group demands rewrite: says commission should have used testimonies from Israeli group Breaking the Silence to ‘prove IDF war crimes’

Times of Israel, Elhanan Miller: In Geneva, Jews and Christians from across Europe rally for Israel
As UN Human Rights Council debates Gaza report, demonstrators commiserate about an irreparably biased international organization

Violence

Ynet, Yoav Zitun, Itay Blumenthal: Terror attack in West Bank: Four Israelis wounded in shooting
One seriously wounded, there suffer moderate wounds after coming under fire at the Shvut Rachel Junction in the Binyamin region; this is the 6th terror attack in 10 days of Ramadan

Ma’an: Anti-Palestine graffiti found in Jerusalem neighborhood
Suspected Jewish extremists spray-painted racist graffiti in the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Safafa in Jerusalem

Ynet, Omri Efraim, Itay Blumenthal, Roi Yanovsky, Yoav Zitun: West Bank shooting victim’s ‘life in danger’
Malachi Moshe Rosenfeld, whose brother died 13 years ago, was very seriously wounded in terror attack; three other suffered light-to-moderate wounds.  

Times of Israel, Marissa Newman, Judah Ari Gross: West Bank drive-by shooting victim dies of wounds
Malachi Moshe Rosenfeld, 25, succumbs to injuries a Day after terror attack near Shvut Rachel

Ynet, Roi Yanovsky, Itay Blumenthal: Security forces shoot, wound Palestinian at Qalandiya checkpoint
Palestinian did not heed security officer’s instructions to stop and began running through vehicle inspection at checkpoint yelling ‘Allahu Akbar’

Gaza

Ynet: A year after Gaza war, Hamas entrenched as frustration grows
Residents fear speaking out against regime amid massive financial crisis, with half saying they would consider emigration—but no alternative has emerged

West Bank

972Mag, Eyal Hareuveni: A vicious cycle of lawlessness in the West Bank
The IDF has all but refused to fulfill its obligation to hold Israeli settlers accountable under the law and to protect Palestinians from them

Military

Ynet, Yoav Zitun: Israel’s new kamikaze drone
VIDEO: unobservable, invulnerable’ k1 suicide UAV shows potential for surgical strikes on terrorists and light vehicles

BDS

Ynet: US church to divest over Israeli treatment of Palestinians
Delegates call on United Church of Christ’s financial arms to sell off stock in any company profiting from ‘human rights violations arising from the occupation’; economic impact on Israel expected to be negligible

6.29.15

Politics

Ynet, Itamar Eichner: Israel approves extending fortified fence on its Jordan border
Fence along Egyptian border to be expanded as gov’t fears illegal immigrants and armed militants may take advantage of porous border

Times of Israel: 22 senators petition Obama to support Israel
Bipartisan group sign letter to US president to remain committed to peace talks, deny Palestinians UN membership

Ynet, Itamar Eichner: Commissions presents Protective Edge report at UN
United Nations Human Rights council debated report that accused both Israel and Palestinians of humanitarian abuses; Israel believes majority will vote to adopt report and form monitoring mechanism

Ma’an: Hamas calls emergency meeting to discuss new unity government
The Hamas movement called Monday for an emergency meeting with Palestinian factions to discuss the formation of a new unity government, claiming it was “unacceptable” that PLO had taken charge of the task

Times of Israel, Raphael Ahran: Israel acknowledges it is helping Syrian rebel fighters
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Monday that Israel has been providing aid to Syrian rebels, thus keeping the Druze in Syria out of immediate danger

NYT, Diaa Hadid: Worried that fasting Palestinian prisoner could die, Israel releases him
A Palestinian prisoner who has emerged as a potent symbol of resistance to Israel’s occupation ended 55-day fast on Monday after Israeli officials, concerned he could die, agreed to release him

Gaza

Washington Post, William Booth: Israel intercepts Gaza-bound aid ship in Mediterranean  
Israeli naval commandos intercepted a protest ship at sea bound for Gaza on Monday and diverted the vessel toward a port in Israel.

Violence

Ynet, Omri Efraim: Palestinian woman stabs female IDF soldier
Terror suspected after soldier stabbed in neck at security check; attacker arrested; soldier in serious condition

Ma’an: Israeli forces detain 5 Palestinians across West Bank
Israeli forces detained five Palestinians early Monday in raids across the West Bank 

Opinion

972Mag, Itamar Sha’altiel: The only real danger of Gaza flotillas
Activists on the Freedom Flotilla must understand that the blocked on Gaza is constantly evolving and that the tactics of yesteryear may no longer be relevant. Putting the spotlight on humanitarian supplies allows for Israel to divert attention from the worst parts of the blockade

6.26.15

Gaza Flotilla

YNet, Moran Azulay: Gaza-bound flotilla sets sail from Crete, with MK Ghattas on board
Activists aboard the Marianne av Göteborg say it is carrying medical equipment for hospitals in the Strip; Israel unlikely to allow the flotilla to reach Gaza shores.

Politics

Haaretz, Thomas Escritt: Palestinian Authority submits first documents on alleged Israeli war crimes to ICC
Palestinian FM Riyad al-Maliki says he submitted dossiers on Gaza conflict, Israeli settlements, and treatment of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

Haaretz, Gidi Weltz & Revital Hovel: Suspect in Yisrael Beiteinu corruption case tied to top cops
Alex Wiznitzer’s late-night phone calls with officers came at a time when his party was in charge of police promotions.

Al-Monitor, Julian Pecquet: State, Congress face off over Palestinian aid
Key lawmakers want to block Palestinian Authority funds over cooperation with International Criminal Court probe.

TOI, AFP: Vatican signs treaty recognizing State of Palestine
Accord was finalized last month; Israel ‘regrets’ bid, says ‘hasty step damages the prospects for advancing a peace agreement’

TOI: Israel deports 7 Turks over alleged Hamas ties
Airport authorities turn away group of journalists, activists who said they came to take part in a Ramadan-breaking meal

Gaza

Ma’an: Israel largest state user of explosive weapons in 2014 due to Gaza war
Israel was the single largest user of explosive weapons among international states in 2014 as a result of its war on Gaza, a London-based NGO said this week, providing further testimony to its devastating use of force on the coastal territory last summer.

West Bank/Settlements

Wafa: Israel arrests five Palestinians in West Bank, Jerusalem
Israeli authorities Thursday arrested at least five Palestinians during predawn raids across the West Bank, according to local and security sources.

+972, Ariel Dloomy: The ‘new Zionism’ is turning Negev Bedouin into a myth
As the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran prepares to be replaced by a Jewish town with a near-identical name, its residents are offering solutions based on real co-existence. 

YNet, Yoav Zitun & Ahiya Raved: Palestinian shot dead after opening fire on soldiers at Jordan Valley
No soldiers wounded in attack at Bik'ot checkpoint in the West Bank.

6.24.15

Politics

Ynet, Moran Azulay: Deputy interior minister to Arab MK: Israel is doing you a favor by giving you citizenship
Furor erupts in the Knesset following controversial remarks, leading to back and forth between Arab, other left-wing MKs and coalition members

Times of Israel, Avi Lewis: Poll finds massive drop in Israelis’ approval of Obama
Less than half of Israelis think US president doing a good job, compared to 71% last year; 80% disapprove of his Iran policy  

Ynet: Palestinians to submit accusations against Israel to ICC
File spanning hundreds of pages is response to request for information from ICC chief, rather than an official criminal complaint

Times of Israel: Washington calls on UN to ignore ‘biased’ Gaza war report
State Department says there is no need for Security Council to debate UNHRC panel’s conclusions

WAFA: Head of UNHR Gaza Inquiry: Israel Must Reexamine its Policy of Using Military Might
American jurist Mary Davis said that Israel must reexamine its policy of using its military might  

Time of Israel, Avi Lewis: Despite lynching, Ya’alon vows to continue aid to wounded Syrians
After mob kills injured man in IDF ambulance, defense minister says Israel will still offer medical assistance; won’t be dragged into war

The Times of Israel, Elhanan Miller: After a year of fake unity with Hamas, Abbas says ‘enough’
Whether or not the Hamdallah government indeed resigned, Gaza’s rulers unlikely to be part of the next one

Gaza

Ma’an: Activists set sail for Gaza in new bid to break Israeli blockade
Activists abroad a flotilla of boats are to soon set sail for Gaza in a fresh bid to break Israel’s blockade of the territory

Ynet, Yoav Zitun: Israel cancels entry permits to Gazans after rocket fire
IDF decides not to allow 500 Palestinians to enter Israel from Gaza in order to pray in the Al-Aqsa mosque during Ramadan after rocket falls near Erez crossing

Al-Monitor, Rasha Abou Jalal: Gazans’ inability to buy gifts affects social relationships
Gazans are facing harsh living condition with little money to spend, which is increasingly affecting social relationships in a society where buying gifts for family and friends when visiting their homes is part of the culture.

Time of Israel, AFP: Rebuilding of thousands of destroyed Gaza homes set to begin
Palestinian housing minister says 90,000 partially damaged houses fixed, announces vetting process for homeowners

Violence

Ynet, Ahiya Raved: Nine Druze arrested over attacks on wounded Syrian rebels
Police raids Druze villages in Galilee, Golan overnight in search for perpetrators of two attacks on IDF ambulances taking wounded Syrian rebels for treatment in Israel, which resulted in death of one rebel.

Ynet, Yoav Zitun, Ahiya Raved: Investigation finds IDF troops tried to protest Syrian wounded from lynch
Army investigators looking into the possibility a soldier may have provided angry mob with information on route of military ambulance transporting wounded Syrians

Ma’an: Israeli air force hits target in Gaza Strip
The Israeli air force attacked a target in the northern Gaza Strip in the early hours of Wednesday after a missile fired from the Gaza strip hit an open area near the town of Ashkelon in the western Negev

WAFA: Israeli Police Arrests Seven Minors in Jerusalem Following Ramadan Night Prayers
Israeli police last night arrested seven Palestinian minors while they were leaving al-Aqsa Mosque compound following Taraweeh (Ramadan night payers)

WAFA: Israeli Warplanes Target Farmland North of Gaza
Israeli warplanes targeted a farmland in the town of Beit Hanoun to the north of the besieged Gaza Strip with at least one missile on Wednesday

26 June 2015 See Post

OneVoice Europe Inspires Hope and Conversation

OneVoice Europe’s (OVE) Outreach and Education Program has undergone a period of unprecedented expansion in the past six months.  With the appointment of a new Education & Outreach Manager in February and the establishment of OneVoice offices in Germany under the direction of OneVoice Israel’s former Executive Director Tal Harris, OVE’s next year is looking to be one of its most impactful yet.

The first OneVoice Germany tour was launched and run from the fourteenth to the twenty-fourth of April, with speakers Tal Harris and OneVoice Palestine’s Executive Director Samer Makhlouf, and OVE’s Education Director, Sharon Booth. The team travelled across three states of Germany, covering over 2,000 km, and engaging over 600 people from across civil society. The tour brought OneVoice’s message to the German public in intimate gatherings, in “Salon”-style events, and larger educational lectures with professionals, students, and politicians. The sessions  examined the possibility of ending the occupation and establishing a two-state solution amidst the current political reality in Israel and Palestine.

OneVoice’s reach was felt in Berlin, where meetings were held with Green Party members and Dr. Sarah Husseini of the Palestinian Mission to understand the German Parliament’s strategy in recognising the state of Palestine. And in nine school sessions conducted across Bavaria for high-school students, the level of engagement and discussion amongst the students was impressive—a student commented, “You have to raise your voice if you want to change something…this session was one of the most important and useful things we ever had in school… now I understand both countries better”.

19 June 2015 See Post

OneVoice Israel and V15 are charting a course for the future with the help of mainstream Israelis

Leveraging the momentum and engagement of the thousands of Israelis over the course of the last election, OneVoice Israel and their strategic partner V15 have been conferring with volunteers, activists, and local community members in conferences across the country. 

OneVoice and V15 are determined to harness the energy and positivity of the thousands of volunteers who became active during the elections. There is a determination to use this momentum in order to approach Israel’s most pressing challenges— chief amongst them the resolution of the conflict— with fresh thinking and new approaches that can disrupt the status quo and convince greater numbers of Israelis to join this growing movement. 

In Kfar Saba on April 30th, participants strongly agreed with leveraging V15’s momentum.  As one volunteer engineer put it, “this energy must continue. We will be able to affect the country by power in numbers.  We have the potential to reach hundreds and thousands of people--even just our Facebook page has massive reach!”

On May 1st in Be'er Sheva, the energy continued with V15 and OneVoice conferring with other organizations and local residents on the social justice issues pertinent to mainstream Israelis. With Netanyahu's narrow coalition formed, and prospects for the two-state solution looking more distant, it is crucial for OneVoice Israel and V15 to continue their tour of Israel into the summer in order to capitalize on the momentum teeming across the country.

07 May 2015 See Post

Another Record Breaking Month For OneVoice Europe’s Outreach and Education Program

In March, OneVoice Europe undertook two successful tours in the East Midlands and London involving four speakers from Israel. It was a record breaking undertaking: almost 1,500 people participated in sessions and events.

As part of the Outreach and Education Program to combat anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim sentiment in British schools and communities, OneVoice speakers acted as a prime example of how young people can be actors for political change in their own societies using non-violent tactics. The forces of extremist violence and hatred on both sides, in addition to an asymmetry between the two parties, have long hampered progress towards a peace deal in the Middle East and have led to a continued status quo of occupation and fear. And yet, themselves the product of an intensive OneVoice skills-training program among Palestinian and Israeli young people, these activists inspired British teenagers with their call for equal rights, justice and freedom from occupation, and their efforts to overcome the voices of the fundamentalists in their respective societies.

The day of school sessions and community events in Derby was covered by BBC East Midlands, which included an interfaith event at Derby University, and a visit to the Jamia Mosque.

Highlights of the month’s events included class-time with students at the Madani High School in Leicester, and a welcoming evening event for the local community at the school. Concluding presentations by the Madani school students on possible solutions to the situation in Israel-Palestine showed the impact of the educational sessions. Students took a constructive stand for non-violence, voiced their support for ending the occupation, and advocated for security for all.

One female student spoke at length, saying: “The people need to move away from labels and start focusing on humanity and the sanctity of human life.”

At the end of March, the OneVoice team received a warm welcome from Muswell Hill Synagogue, with an intensive discussion event focusing on the outcome of the Israeli election, and the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the West Bank. Participants made it clear that extremists in government and at the grassroots level have been harnessing the agenda with aggression and fear mongering for far too long. One audience member commented after the event: “Thanks for introducing an excellent and focused discussion last night - what I took away most of all is that it's vital to continue to build on the ideas put forward, no matter how slim the thread of hope.”

These tours continue to demonstrate that OneVoice Europe is one of the only organisations on the world stage that is successfully facilitating direct discussion, actively engaging people of all faiths and creeds in the UK and Europe, and bringing Israeli and Palestinian voices to the forefront of the battle against prejudice.

OVE will continue its work in schools and communities during the summer, and follow up opportunities for young people aged between 18 and 25 will be made available later this year, with our volunteers’ program and our student residential course.

The application for the course is now open, for more information, contact Jess Brandler: jess@onevoicemovement.org.uk

07 May 2015 See Post

Israeli Election Headlines English Bar Event

On January 27, OneVoice held its second English-language “Peace Pays Off at the Bar” event at Patrick’s Pub in central Tel Aviv to attract Israel’s international community. The guest speaker was Daniel Ben-Simon, acclaimed journalist and former Member of Knesset for the Labor Party. The event brought in over 50 English-speaking attendees from Israel, the United States, Canada, Russia, and more.

There was a buzz of anticipation about the room as a steady stream of attendees arrived, pulled up chairs close to the stage. “I’m here because I saw the event on Facebook and thought it looked interesting,” said Ethan, 22, a local journalist originally from New York. “I also have friends attending the event, which made it more likely for me to come.”

OVI’s Sharon Siegel, the event organizer, brought the crowd to attention and introduced the theme of Ben-Simon’s talk: the upcoming elections. “Whether you are here for only a short period of time, or you’re planning to stay here long-term, you can get involved,” she said.

When Ben-Simon took the stage, he was quick to emphasize the importance of Israel’s March 17 election. “This election will change the face of Israel and the history of Israel,” he said, “but most people are too angry or disinterested to vote.”

Ben-Simon revealed what he believes to be the most important issue in the election: “what to do with the West Bank.” He went on to speculate that, in the discourse around the elections, the West Bank is likely to be overlooked in favor of the economy. “Most Israelis don’t feel the lack of a Palestinian state, but they do feel that their living standard has lowered so much over the last few years that they cannot afford another four years of this economy.”

During his talk, Ben-Simon criticized the government’s unwillingness to negotiate with Israel’s Arab neighbors. “You cannot close the window and say you do not see anything. We need to open Israel and be a part of this region.”

Other topics of Ben-Simon’s talk included an indictment of the religious right for stalling negotiations with the Palestinians, and the practice of recruiting celebrities to serve in political parties as a way of garnering votes. “If you have more celebrities you can get more votes, it makes a parody of the Knesset.”

In the end, Ben-Simon restated the importance of the upcoming election and urged everyone to get involved and vote. “The political game can determine how we live and if we live.”

After his talk, Ben-Simon answered a few questions from the audience, and was followed by Guy Simon, a representative of the non-profit agency, Kol Oleh, which brings information about Israeli politics and the upcoming election to English-speaking immigrants. Simon presented information about several political parties that will be important in the upcoming elections and the key issues of their platforms.

“I think these things are necessary for new immigrants - helping them figure out how to navigate the political process,” said Riana, an attendee at the event. Cydney, a photographer from Atlanta attending the event, said, “For someone like me, who is considering moving to Israel, I think it’s important to be aware of what is going in in Israeli politics. I’m definitely glad I came.” 

Guy Simon Kol Oleh

Guy Simon of Kol Oleh speaks to audience members about the Israeli elections.

27 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

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