During 2010-2011, OneVoice conducted five campus tours in the U.S. to the Mid-Atlantic, Colorado and Southern California, New York and New Jersey, Northern California, and the Midwest. In addition, OneVoice facilitated regional youth leadership training seminars.
April found the IEP team traversing the Midwest, traveling from Minnesota to Illinois to Wisconsin to Michigan. Mohammad Asideh (OneVoice Palestine) returned to the U.S., this time with Shir Lachish (OneVoice Israel). We visited many new universities, such as Macalester, DePaul, UW-Madison, and UW-Milwaukee, as well as returned to several such as University of Michigan and Michigan State. Our events were sponsored by stellar student groups and institutions who are doing inspiring work on their campuses, such as Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights, Muslim Jewish Volunteer Initiative, the Global Scholars Program, the Campus Interfaith Council, and Students for Peace and Justice. We’re excited to bolster our partnership with these groups and bring creative programming to amplify Israeli and Palestinian voices on their campuses.
Northern California is known for its polarized campuses and communities, but it was a challenge OneVoice Israel youth leader Tomer Avital and OneVoice Palestine youth leader Bashar Shweiki were ready to take on in March. Tomer and Bashar spoke with students at UC-Davis, UC-Santa Cruz, Stanford, University of San Francisco, UC-Berkeley, and San Francisco State. Many of these campuses have experienced confrontation between different student groups passionate about Israel and Palestine, so a visit from Tomer and Bashar proved to be a necessary dose of reality from two dynamic grassroots activists living in Israel and Palestine. Tomer and Bashar also had the opportunity to conduct an event with over 150 community members from synagogues, churches, and Muslim community groups. Not only did Tomer and Bashar have a chance to share their personal stories with the audience, but they also had a chance to meet with them in small groups as they brainstormed programs to conduct to support peace-building in Israel and Palestine. We know that we left Northern California with many new partnerships to build upon in the coming months.
The OneVoice team traversed New York and New Jersey during 10-days packed with events with diverse audiences- from university students to teens to local community members to international policy makers. Youth Leadership Director Dana Sender (OneVoice Israel) and youth leader Roza Helou (OneVoice Palestine) kicked off their tour on a panel alongside Lisa Gossels at a screening of her film My So-Called Enemy at the Athena Film Festival at Barnard College. The very next morning we met with over 70 people at Oheb Shalom Synagogue in South Orange, New Jersey. We return to New Jersey the following day for a series of events at Rutgers University, a campus that has experienced a recent sharp increase in polarization around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We were able to interact with a range of passionate students, whether in classes, over lunch with the Middle East Co-existence House, or at a campus-wide event. This gave us the perfect momentum for the rest of the week, as we met with Christian, Jewish, and Muslim high school students and visited Queens College, Fordham University, Yeshiva University, Drew University, Seton Hall University, and Columbia University. These events were sponsored by the Project of International Relations and Conflict Resolution, the Political Science Club, Muslim Students Association, Campus Ministry, Jewish Students Organization, Social Justice Society, Israel Club, Graduate Diplomacy Council, Undergraduate Diplomacy Student Association, and SHU One Campaign. These events spawned at least one new OneVoice chapter. Our New York tour also featured some key first-time events. We held our first OneVoice webinar, our first young professionals networking event in New York, co-sponsored by Young Professionals in Foreign Policy, and our first briefing at the U.N. during the Commission on the Status of Women annual conference.
OneVoice youth leaders Mohammad Asideh and Eliran Eyal represented OneVoice in Denver, our first visit to Colorado, prior to heading to California. While there, they spoke in classes, campus-wide events, and private events for community leaders at the University of Denver and the University of Colorado-Denver thanks to our gracious hosts, the Institute for the Study of Israel in the Middle East. From there we were off to Los Angeles and San Diego, where we spoke at UC-San Diego, San Diego State, Cal-State Northridge, UC-Irvine, UCLA, Santa Monica College, and Occidental College. We also spoke to large audiences at both the Islamic Center of Southern California and Leo Baeck Temple, both first time visits for us. Our diverse range of events were sponsored by Jewish Students Taking Action for Peace, People to People, International, International Security and Conflict Resolution Program Student Society, Graduate Student Association Political Science, Students for Justice in Palestine, Hillel, Olive Tree Initiative, Global Citizenship Initiative, and OneVoice Oxy. We were especially pleased to see our OneVoice chapter at Occidental flourishing, and to see the continued success and growth of the Olive Tree Initiative, whose founding was inspired by a OneVoice event.
Veteran youth leaders Ahmad Omeir and Danny Shaket spent nearly two weeks in Washington, D.C., Virginia and North Carolina. During this tour, they engaged U.S. citizens from many tiers- students, community members, policymakers, and dignitaries. Our tour began in D.C., with widely attended events at George Washington University, American University, Georgetown University, and our first time ever at Gallaudet University, the only liberal arts university for the deaf in the world. At a time of political uncertainty, our tour in D.C. also allowed us to engage with policymakers in Congress, the White House, the United States Institute of Peace, foreign embassies, the Woodrow Wilson Center, the New America Foundation, and the Buxton Initiative. A highlight of our trip was an event at the Embassy of Finland, in partnership with the Young Professionals in Foreign Policy. We then took the long drive down to North Carolina, with a stop in Virginia Beach, a first for OneVoice, and forged new relationships at the Virginia Beach Friends School and Old Dominion University. In North Carolina, we spoke at the New Garden Friends School, UNC-Greensboro, High Point University, Elon University, and UNC-Chapel Hill. Our events in the Mid-Atlantic region were covered in NPR’s Tell Me More, The AU Eagle, GW Hatchet, and The Buff and Blue.