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 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.”
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.