OneVoice’s approach is designed to appeal to the enlightened self-interest of the Israeli and Palestinian people. The majority of people on both sides realize that they have everything to gain by ensuring the independence and security of ‘the other’ and thus are prepared to compromise in order to do so. OneVoice, consequently, is in a unique position to engage all sectors of each society in our work – from right to left and religious to secular.
OneVoice recognizes that one of the most powerful ways to empower moderate constituencies is to demonstrate to them that they have an engaged partner on the other side. Thus, OneVoice’s initiatives include a number of programs along three tracks:
The Israeli and Palestinian tracks address the unique issues facing each society. The International track is geared towards promoting mutual understanding among all global citizens. These tracks are essential in strengthening the role of civil society –regionally and throughout the world – in crafting a viable and comprehensive resolution for both peoples.
For too long, grassroots political activity in Israel and Palestine has been dominated by those espousing hard-line or extremist views. OneVoice regularly hosts ‘Town Hall’ meetings that stimulate political discussion among moderates and serve as a powerful recruitment tool for activists. More than 85% of attendees ultimately sign up to the OneVoice Mandate.
OneVoice’s Leadership Development Workshops train young Israelis and Palestinians in public speaking, conflict resolution, community mobilization, and leadership. Workshops, which typically entail 2-3 days of intensive training, enable Youth Leaders to empower their communities to use non-violent means to address the conflict. The most active and articulate Youth Leaders are asked to participate abroad as ambassadors in OneVoice’s International Engagement Program.
Recruiting and training young leaders is a crucial component of OneVoice’s program work in both Israel and Palestine. OneVoice plays an important role in demonstrating to young people that non-violent negotiations are a viable alternative to violent protest. Moreover, the regular workshops help to forge meaningful relationships between moderate Palestinians and Israelis.
After completing Leadership Development Workshops, Youth Leaders participate in seminars that focus on the logistics of organizing mass rallies, democratization drives, and recruitment campaigns. At the end of their training, the Youth Leaders are asked to set up events within their communities to galvanize more support for and to publicize OneVoice. Alternatively, some may be asked to recruit more signatories who affirm the OneVoice Mandate.
Israeli and Palestinian universities are powerful institutions that can serve as forces for either progress or deterioration in Israeli-Palestinian relations. Key to OneVoice’s mission is the need to ‘humanize’ the other side and to forge relationships among those who wish for peace and prosperity. Chapter programs were established on campuses around Israel and Palestine, organized and run by local Youth Leaders.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is having a polarizing effect on campuses and communities around the world. Growing polarization between Palestinian, Jewish, Arab, Israeli and Muslim groups over the conflict has led to an increasing vacuum of moderation. The conflict is all-too-often either the cause of, or an excuse for, poor relations between different ethnic or religious groups.
OneVoice’s strong credentials in both Israel and Palestine are what set it apart from other organizations. By bringing these credentials to campuses and communities outside the Middle East, OneVoice is able to attract groups of all backgrounds and political persuasions. This allows us to bring together students who would never normally sit in the same room, let alone applaud the same ideals, to realize that they have more in common than they could have imagined.