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.

5.22.15

Gaza

JPost, Khaled Abu Toameh: Gaza unemployment world’s highest as 60% of youth find themselves jobless
While about 43% of PA’s expenditures are spent in Gaza, only 13% of its revenues come from Gaza

PNN: The world is failing Gaza
Gulf Arab states and Turkey have spectacularly failed to fulfill their pledges to Gaza, contributing to a two-thirds shortfall in promised assistance to the beleaguered enclave, a new report reveals. 

Obama at Adas

Haaretz: In U.S. synagogue speech, Obama says Palestinians ‘not easy partners’
President addresses congregation at Adas Israel synagogue in Washington, says has 'periodic differences' with Netanyahu.

Politics

Ma’an: Deputy FM to envoys: Bible shapes Israel’s foreign policy
A top Israeli diplomat, in a video seen by AFP on Friday, has instructed envoys to quote the Bible as giving Jews sovereignty over the entire Holy Land, including the West Bank.

YNet, AP: Abbas: Israeli settlement expansion blocks any peace deal
Palestinian president reiterates important of two states side by side; Peres: Majority of Israelis support two-state solution.

TOI, Joshua Davidovich: Can you hear Obama now?
President’s warning that Netanyahu’s words against Arabs will have ramifications rings loud, but not necessarily clear

YNet: Hotovely: Land of Israel belongs to the Jews
Quoting Rashi, the new deputy FM tells Israeli diplomats that, 'this country is ours, all of it. We didn’t come here to apologize for that.'

West Bank/Settlements

+972, Natasha Roth: Playing with fire: IDF to use new weapon on West Bank protests
A new type of sponge-tipped bullet introduced in East Jerusalem last summer has broken arms, fractured faces, destroyed eyesight and killed a teenager. Now a similar projectile is slated for use against Palestinians in the West Bank.

Al-Monitor, Mazal Mualem: First international blunder of Bibi’s new government
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's zigzagging over the plan to separate Jews and Palestinian workers traveling to the territories demonstrates the strong hold of the settlers over his fragile coalition.
 

5.21.15

Politics

PNN: Erekat: The new Israeli cabinet shows its commitment to extreme Apartheid policies
High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Mrs. Federica Mogherini, met with Palestinians and Israelis Wednesday, in an attempt to prompt adherence to the 2-State Solution and ask both sides to fulfill their commitments to previous rounds of negotiations and agreements, including halting Israeli settlement expansion.

YNet, Itamar Eichner: France seeks 18-month deadline for Israel-Palestinians peace talks
According to French initiative, if sides fail to reach agreement by deadline, Paris will officially recognize Palestine; plan includes demand for Palestinians to recognize Israel as Jewish state.

TOI, Elie Leshem: Obama: US must criticize Israel if it is to defend it
In wide-ranging interview, president implies anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, plays down threat of Mideast nuclear arms race

Ma’an: PLO: Netanyahu paving ‘new wave of racist policies’
PLO Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat on Wednesday labeled the new Israeli coalition "racist" and "extremist" as the European Union attempted to encourage both sides to adhere to previous peace agreements.

Haaretz, Barak Ravid: Obama: Netanyahu’s anti-Arab remarks likely to have foreign policy consequences
President says because U.S. is close to Israel, Oval Office had to speak up about Israeli PM's Election Day comments lest it lose credibility.

Knesset

TOI, Daniel Bernstein: PM tells skeptical Arab party head he’ll tackle inequality
In first meeting with Joint List leader Ayman Odeh, Netanyahu promises new plans for Arab development

Ma’an: Lieberman blasts Netanyahu for talks with Joint Arab list
Israel's former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman on Thursday urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cancel talks with the head of parliament's Palestinian parties, accusing him of granting legitimacy to "terror supporters."

West Bank/Settlements

YNet, Yoav Zitun & Elior Levy: IDF’s improves life for Palestinians: ‘it brings peace and security’
From new roads to increased work permits, the IDF is trying a new approach in an effort to preserve the delicate security situation in the West Bank.

Culture

+972, Samah Salaime: Lifelong refugees: Palestinian boat people search for a new home
After escaping the horrors of the Syrian Civil War by boat, a group of Palestinian refugees washed up on the shores of Greece. Now they are wandering the streets of Athens without food or shelter.

TOI, Renee Ghert-Zand: Dating app takes aim at Mideast conflict
Tinder-like Verona seeks to connect Israelis and Palestinians for love, not war

5.20.15

West Bank Buses

NYTimes, Isabel Kershner: Israel cancels project barring Palestinians from some buses
Responding to intense criticism, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahuof Israel on Wednesday abruptly shelved a contentious pilot project introduced this week that prohibited Palestinians returning to theWest Bank from riding on the same buses as Israelis headed to Jewish settlements.

WaPo, Ruth Eglash: Israel announces—then scraps—plans for separate Palestinian buses
A government plan to separate Palestinians and Israelis traveling on the same public buses in the West Bank was suspended within hours of being announced Wednesday after critics likened the program to apartheid.

+972, Larry Derfner: A dark tale from Netanyahu nation
Assassinations, lies and conspiracy theories. 

TOI, Gedalyah Reback & Elhanan Miller: Rivlin: Segregating West Bank buses ‘unthinkable’
President attacks now-canceled idea that would have kept Palestinian laborers off Israeli buses

TOI, Elhanan Miller: Netanyahu puts the brakes on ‘segregated’ West Bank buses
Left-wing Knesset members decry ‘apartheid’ plan that would oblige Palestinian workers to use checkpoints on return from Israel

Politics

Al-Monitor, Mazal Mualem: Erdan challenges Netanyahu, refuses cabinet position
In a surprising move, senior Likud member and former Interior Minister Gilad Erdan rejected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s offer of a Cabinet position and is staying out of the new government.

TOI: Netanyahu tells EU’s Mogherini he’s committed to two-state solution
European foreign policy chief, in region to explore renewing peace talks with Palestinians, says she believes prime minister

Haaretz, Michelle Nichols: UN says will engage with Netanyahu on ‘realistic options’ for return to peace talks
UN Middle East envoy tells Security Council that Gaza is 'desperate and angry' over devastation following summer's 50-day war.

PNN: Barghouthi: the EU is not biased, it is only sick of Israel’s behavior
The seventh Israeli channel on Wednesday, the day EU Middle East envoy Federica Mogherini is scheduled to arrive in the region, published report by non-governmental organizations saying that the European Union was biased towards Palestine against the Israeli occupation for the recent past years.

Al-Monitor, Ben Caspit: Netanyahu’s new government already on shaky ground
With the numerous challenges facing the new Netanyahu government, and with a slender majority, many are predicting his coalition won't last long.

West Bank/Settlements

YNet, Roi Yanovsky & Omri Efraim: Two border police officers hurt in vehicular attack in Jerusalem
Terrorist from East Jerusalem killed by police gunfire; victims sustain light-to-moderate wounds; riots reported at site of incident near Mount of Olives.

5.19.15

Politics

PNN: Sweden announces 4.3M contribution to the PA’s salaries and pensions
The Swedish State Secretary for International Development Cooperation Ulrika Modéer, who is currently visiting Palestine, announced today that the Government of Sweden will be making a contribution to the May salaries and pensions of around 68,500 Palestinian civil servants and pensioners in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the payment of which is currently scheduled to take place in early June. The Swedish contribution will amount to SEK 40 million (c.€4.3 million) and will be channelled through the European Union's PEGASE[1] mechanism.

YNet, Itamar Eichner: Shalom claims he’s de facto foreign minister
Netanyahu tasked former FM with renewing peace talks, liaising with US and dealing with international community on Gaza, so what else is left for Deputy Minister Hotovely?

TOI, Jonathan Beck: Kahlon takes aim at housing crisis with rent control plan
Legislation would prevent landlords from hiking prices for first 3-5 years from signing a contract

West Bank/Settlements

Al-Arabiya: HRW denounces Israel expulsion of Bedouins, Palestinians
A rights group on Tuesday condemned Israeli court decisions paving the way for the eviction of Bedouins and Palestinians from their villages, calling on the state to let them stay put.

Ma’an: Palestinian sentenced to 8 months prison over Facebook posts
An Israeli court on Tuesday sentenced a Palestinian man to eight months of imprisonment with an additional six months suspended for activity on social media.

Ma’an: Israel court approves Bedouin land confiscation, HRW condemns
The Israeli Supreme court on Tuesday turned down an appeal by the descendants of Sheikh Suleiman Muhammad al-Ukbi against a decision by the central court of Beersheba three years ago. 

JPost, Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinian Authority continues crackdown on Hamas supporters
In the Hebron area, the PA General Intelligence Service arrested Anan al-Shahateet, a student at the Polytechnic University, and summoned for interrogation his colleague, Mohamed Rashaideh.

Gaza

Al-Monitor, Mohammed Othman: Tensions increase between Hamas, Salafists
Hamas-affiliated security forces have been waging a large-scale arrest campaign targeting Salafists, while Gaza’s fate seems to hang in the balance.

Op-ed

Haaretz, Seth Lipsky: What Ayelet Shaked can learn from Sarah Palin
The former Alaska governor could make a natural friend for Habayit Hayehudi's new justice minister - and it's got nothing to do with their looks.

NYTimes, Henry Siegman: Give up on Netanyahu, go to the United Nations
The greetings President Obama extended last week to Israel’s new government may have sounded conciliatory, but Mr. Obama no longer entertains any illusions about Israel’s leaders.

5.18.15

UN

Al-Monitor, Akiva Eldar: Will US endorse French UN resolution on Palestinian statehood?
In view of the composition of the new Israeli government and its policies, France could replace the United States in leading the efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, by advancing a UN resolution on Palestinian statehood.

Politics

PNN: PA demands ICC set fixed date to submit lawsuits against Israel
The Palestinian foreign minister, Riyad Al-Maliki on Monday said that he asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to set a date for submitting the case files pertaining to the settlements and war crimes lawsuits against Israel to the court.

Haaretz, Jonathan Lis: Likud source: Defense minister, not Habayit Hayehudi, will decide on settlement construction
Holding deputy defense minister position was one of Habayit Hayehudi's key achievements - losing responsibility for approving settlement construction would gut it.

Haaretz, Barak Ravid: Netanyahu puts minister Silvan Shalom, who opposed Palestinian state, in charge of talks with PA
Shalom has never publicly supported a two-state solution, and has even expressed his support for West Bank settlement construction.

+972, Samah Salaime: Isaac Herzog, leader of the non-opposition
Many people have described Isaac Herzog’s maiden speech as Leader of the Opposition as the speech that could have won him the election. But under closer scrutiny, he doesn’t really offer a viable alternative.

YNet, AFP: Netanyahu appoints Silvan Shalom as peace negotiator
Palestinians denounce appointment of new interior minister, saying Shalom did not believe in the two-state solution.

YNet, Reuters: Europe wants central role in Middle East peace, Mogherini says
EU foreign policy chief says she is eager to leverage Europe's position to step in after US failure to make progress last year; she will meet with Netanyahu and Abbas this week.

TOI, Daniel Bernstein: In first speech, Shaked expresses hope to rein in court
New justice minister rejects attempt to cast her as ‘force of darkness,’ hopes for debate on power balance without ‘tyranny of thought’

West Bank/Settlements

+972: Infographic: East Jerusalem by the numbers, 2015
Ahead of Jerusalem Day 2015, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) released a factsheet detailing the disparities between the city’s Jewish and Palestinian residents and the systemic discrimination in East Jerusalem. The following infographic accompanies the report. Read more here.

TOI, Marissa Newman: Netanyahu: Jerusalem construction ‘our natural right’
PM pledges capital ‘won’t be divided again'; opposition leader says Netanyahu’s policies dividing Jerusalem

Culture

Ma’an: Vatican recognition of saints symbolic victory for Palestinian
The grounds of the Carmel Convent in Bethlehem, home to blue-shuttered stone buildings on a hilltop facing the Nativity Church, are adorned with the image of Mariam Bawardy, one of two Palestinian nuns canonized by Pope Francis in Rome on Sunday.

20 May 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

“Peace Pays Off at the Bar” Quenches Israeli Thirst for Politics

OneVoice Israel (OVI) hosted its first “Peace Pays Off at the Bar” gathering outside of Tel Aviv at the Agnes Bar in Hod Hashoron. The December 1 social event, featuring guest speaker Gershon Baskin, was successful in engaging a new swath of the Israeli public at a time when political upheaval has taken Israel by storm.

The Agnes was packed wall-to-wall with 50 people, the crowd representing all aspects of Israeli society. Baskin, an OVI board member and the founder and co-chairman of the Israel-Palestine Creative Regional Initiative (IPCRI), spoke to a wide variety of issues relating to the peace process and about his many years of experience working with Israelis and Palestinians – publicly and privately – to promote understanding of both narratives in the conflict. Baskin is well known for his keen political insight and his secret back-channel meetings between Israel and Hamas that successfully negotiated the release of Israeli solider Pvt. Gilad Shalit.

“We got very close to an agreement with the Palestinians, at least twice before,” Baskin told the audience. “Today, many of them have lost faith in reaching an agreement with us. [But] the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be solved.”

“As an Israeli citizen who loves this place and is proud to be an Israeli, there is no other place I would want to live. The conflict is resolvable and we can reach a formula acceptable to both nations. We have people who agree to the outline of a peace based on two states.”

“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. The first “Peace Pays Off at the Bar” event took place at the Little Prince in Tel Aviv on October 6 that saw Col. (Ret.) Miri Eisin speak to 70 people.

Dan Shika, OVI’s Central Regional Director, commented on the prospects of spreading “Peace at the Bar” beyond Tel Aviv, saying, “This was my first event held outside of Tel Aviv and I am very pleased that we were able to get the OVI message to 50 new people and hopefully by word of mouth our message will continue to spread throughout the area.”

Dan Shika

Above: OVI Central Regional Director Dan Shika introduces Gershon Baskin at The Agnes Bar on December 1.

Aaron Pilcher is OneVoice Israel's Fall 2014 intern

05 December 2014 See Post

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