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.

7.27.15

POLITICS

JPost, staff: Obama slams Huckabee for invoking Holocaust in his criticism of Iran deal

Huckabee tweeted a series of messages with quotes from Khamenei and Hezbollah leader in which they threaten Israel with a holocaust.

JPost, Khaled Abu Toameh: PA official dismisses report Abbas planning to resign within two months

80-year-old's surprising announcement of retirement is due to fatigue; Abbas advisor labels report "Israeli rumors."

The Times of Israel, AFP: UN powwow in Spain targets ‘foreign terrorist fighters’

Talks focus on preventing Islamist radicals from leaving their countries to join armed jihadist groups abroad.

The Times of Israel, Raphael Ahren: ICC prosecutor says she won’t reopen probe into flotilla deaths

ICC will not open another investigation into the deaths of 10 Turkish citizens aboard a Gaza blockade-busting ship in 2010, despite a pretrial chamber ordering the prosecutor earlier this month to reconsider her decision to close her initial probe into the case.

Ynet News, Itay Blumenthal: Police raids store selling fireworks to Palestinian rioters

"It turned into a makeshift weapon against security forces on the Temple Mount, in East Jerusalem and across the West Bank”

+972, Michael Omer-Man: Has the IDF found a way to climb down the Susya tree?

With more or less the entire Western world warning Israel not to demolish the Palestinian village of Susya and forcefully displace its residents, it is no surprise that the Israeli army might be seeking a way to climb down the tree it is stuck on.

ISRAEL

Israel Hayom, Nadav Shragai: The secret of the disengagement from Gaza

One question remains unanswered: Did Ariel Sharon really believe the disengagement was good for Israel?

The Times of Israel, Sandy Cash: Israel’s ‘expendable’ students

An experimental high school saves the kids who fail elsewhere — the Education Ministry is forcing it to close

The Times of Israel, Josefin Dolsten: Surprise IDF drill simulates strikes from north and Gaza

‘Largest surprise’ exercise in recent years rehearses response to rocket and cyber attacks

The Times of Israel, Avi Lewis: Government seeks to crack down on terrorism with new bill

Legislators were set to review a wide-ranging anti-terrorism bill Monday that would significantly clamp down on individuals indirectly assisting Palestinian extremist groups, while establishing explicit penalties for convicted terror operatives.

GAZA

Al-Monitor, Rasha Abou Jalal: Gaza universities now more accessible, for all the wrong reasons

“Lowering admission standards is not in line with the interests of the labor market and increases the surplus of graduates in academic disciplines for which there aren’t enough jobs, at a time when the Hamas government is suffering a severe financial crisis and hasn’t been paying salaries since June 2014.”

JPost, Khaled Abu Toameh: Gazans, Jordanians stage protests against UNRWA decision to cut services to Palestinian population

Protesters claim that UNRWA has cut its health and educational services to tens of thousands of Palestinians, and suspect that UNRWA’s scaling-down of its services is part of a “conspiracy” to eliminate the refugee problem.

The Times of Israel, Avi Lewis: IDF probes two senior officers over Gaza school shelling

Two senior IDF officers are being investigated for their role in the shelling of a UN facility in Gaza that killed 20 Palestinians 

The Times of Israel, Marissa Newman: From playground to battleground: The Gush Katif kids who went ‘home’ to war

Decade after pullout, 3 Gaza-born soldiers recall their return to the ‘landscape of their childhood’ to fight in last summer’s war

WEST BANK

The Times of Israel, Tamar Pileggi: Palestinian suspect killed during West Bank arrest operation

It was the third time in the past week that a Palestinian was killed during an arrest attempt by Israeli Police.

Ynet News, Itay Blumenthal: Settlers step up protest against settlement freeze

In the wake of Sunday's High Court of Justice decision to halt construction in the West Bank settlement of Beit El, settler groups set up a protest tent near the site.

JERUSALEM

The Times of Israel, Avi Lewis: Arab MK denies Temple Mount ever held a temple

On Tisha B’av day of mourning, Joint (Arab) List lawmaker Masud Ganaim claims Jews have no historical connection to Jerusalem holy site.

The New York Times, Isabel Kershner: Palestinian Youths Clash With Israeli Police in Jerusalem

Masked Palestinian youths clashed with Israeli police in Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque compound on Sunday, as Jews marked an annual day of mourning commemorating the destruction of two ancient temples believed to have once stood at the holy site.

OPINION

Israel Hayom, Reuven Berko: The false tale of 'apartheid'

Those supporting the "right of return" effectively seek to annihilate the Jewish state. Should the murderous horde overrunning Arab nations find its way to Israel via the "right of return," it will become a bloodbath.

POST IRAN DEAL

Al-Monitor, Uri Savir: Obama's foreign policy doctrine rejected by Israel

Due to the agreement and Netanyahu’s response, Jerusalem is currently more isolated internationally than ever before. This grave situation in which Israel finds itself now could escalate into a catastrophe should Netanyahu and the Republicans defeat the agreement in Congress. 

Israel Hayom, Ofer Israeli: The Iranian deal's chain reaction

Unless a proper strategy is adopted, the deal might let Iran produce dozens of nuclear bombs within a decade or two—but the deal's adverse effects will be felt much sooner.

JPost, Herb Keinon: Immoral to say Israel should stay out of Iran accord debate in US

“Efforts to muzzle Israeli voices in the US debate over the Iran nuclear accord are unacceptable, illogical and even immoral, National Infrastructure”- Steinitz

 

7.23.15

Politics

Al-Monitor, Ahmad Melhem: Does Hamas have a ‘revolutionary plan’ for the West Bank?
After a recent arrest campaign against Hamas members in the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority has charged that the movement plans to gain control of the territory.

Al-Arabiya, AFP: Saudi: Hamas leaders visit was not political
Saudi Arabia on Thursday played down the significance of a visit by Hamas leaders, saying it was only a religious pilgrimage and Riyadh’s position on the Palestinian Islamist movement was unchanged.

TOI, AFP: UN requests more funds for Palestinian refugees
Official warns of ‘grave implications’ if agency overseeing refugee camps doesn’t patch $100 million shortfall

West Bank

Ma’an: Residents, international community brace for Susiya demolition
The Palestinian Bedouin village of Susiya has gained international attention in recent weeks as the community braces for Israeli authorities to demolish their homes in the coming days, despite condemnation.

Ma’an: Israeli forces wound 8 at funeral of 53-year-old killed Thursday
Israeli forces injured eight Palestinians in the occupied West Bank town of Beit Ummar Thursday as clashes erupted after the funeral of Falah Abu Maria, who was shot dead in his home at dawn during an Israeli arrest raid, witnesses said.

Wafa: Israeli police assaults elderly in Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque
The Israeli police Thursday assaulted a Palestinian elderly and maltreated him at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque compound, according to local sources.

Gaza

+972, Thair Abu-Rass: Despite the devastation, Gazans see no alternative to Hamas
A year after Operation Protective Edge, I traveled from Israel to visit my family in the Gaza Strip, where Palestinians are suffering from high rates of unemployment, violence, and drug use.

YNet, Matan Tzuri: State-of-the-art warning system to address Gaza-area mortar threat
After mortar shells claimed both soldiers and civilian casualties, new radar system will increase warning time from 3-5 seconds to 15 seconds.

Wafa: Study reveals 51% of Gaza children, 31% adults suffer post-war trauma
Gaza Community Mental Health Program’s (GCMHP) Deputy Director General for Professional Affairs Taysir Diab Thursday said around 51% of Gaza’s children and 31% of its adults suffer Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result to the latest Israeli mass attack on the besieged Gaza Strip.

Culture

TOI, Raphael Ahren: World Jewry ever more uneasy with Israel, major study finds
Most Diaspora Jews don’t believe current government is sincere in quest for peace; feel entitled to a say in country’s security policy, new JPPI research highlights

Opinion

Haaretz, Anshel Pfeffer: Disengagement, 10 years later: how little things change
Ariel Sharon’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza may have been flawed, but at least it showed a leader who took Israel’s destiny seriously.

+972, Natasha Roth: Want to be a judge in Israel? Get in line and sing the national anthem
The Israeli national anthem, a Zionist hymn that excludes Israel’s Palestinian population, could soon become part of the job requirement for judges. 

7.21.15

POLITICS

YNet News: EU to Israel: Halt forced population transfers

A meeting of EU foreign ministers blasts Israel for what it says are actions that 'seriously threaten the two-state solution', while embracing a new international peace plan that would bring Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table.

The Times of Israel, staff: Israel says it no longer treats Syrian Islamist rebels inside country

A senior IDF officer said Monday that Israel no longer treats casualties from the Syrian civil war who are members of the al-Nusra Front, a rebel group affiliated with al-Qaeda. 

The New York Times, Helene Cooper: U.S. Defense Secretary Visits Israel to Soothe Ally After Iran Nuclear Deal

Ashton B. Carter, the United States secretary of defense, cited “Iran’s malign influence” in trying to soothe Israel’s anger over the proposed deal.

WEST BANK

Al-Monitor, Ahmad Melhem: The Palestinian dancer who was locked away

Lina Khattab, an 18-year-old dancer and university student, tells Al-Monitor about her ordeal when Israeli forces arrested her and says she hopes she can show the world the suffering of the Palestinians.

Al-Monitor, Akiva Eldar: US and EU take strong stand against Israeli demolition plan

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has remained silent about plans to destroy the West Bank village of Susiya despite calls by the United States and the European Union to rescind the demolition orders. The Susiya affair is the first test of Israeli foreign relations in the post-Iran nuclear crisis era.

ISRAEL

YNet News, Moran Azulay: Knesset approves harsher punishments to stone-thrower

Amendment to existing law allows court to sentence rioter to up to 10 years in prison even without proof of intent to cause harm.

YNet News, Tova Tzimoki: Attorney general calls for criminal investigation against Netanyahu's staffer

The investigation will focus on the possible misappropriation of funds by the PMO Deputy Director-General, Ezra Saidoff, and an electrician who worked on the PM's Caesarea home.

+972, Haggai Matar: Casting Jewish-American boycott activists as hypocrites

Israel’s top weekend news show forgets about journalistic integrity when painting American Jewish supporters of the BDS movement as hypocritical, ungrateful and misinformed. 

JERUSALEM

+972, Anat Saragusti: Searching for incitement in Palestinian mosques — harder than you think

Channel 10 News wanted so badly to prove that Muslim preachers in Israel and the occupied territories use their Ramadan sermons to incite against Jews. Something went wrong along the way. 

GAZA

JPost, staff: Gaza Salafists at loggerheads with Hamas threaten rocket attacks on Israel

Radical Islamist Salafists in Gaza have threatened to launch projectiles at Israel in retribution for what they call "crimes and conspiracies" conducted by the Strip's ruling faction

OPINION

Israel Hayom, Daniel Pipes: Israeli options to destroy Iran's nuclear program

whether any government will intervene, militarily force is necessary to stop the nearly inevitable Iranian nuclear buildup.

CULTURE

Al-Monitor, Abou Jalal: English study an escape for Gazans

Attendance in English teaching centers in Gaza is on the rise, with the youth increasingly aware that learning the language increases their chances of finding better jobs and studying abroad.

POST IRAN DEAL

Al-Monitor, Mazal Mualem: “I'm no fan of Bibi but I see a bad deal”

Former Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh argues that the deal with Iran is dangerous to Israel, because it will strengthen Hezbollah and Hamas, while allowing Iran to enlarge its regional hegemony.

The Time of Israel, Dana Weiss: Bibi the Terminator

Netanyahu’s all out war on the deal has isolated Israel and obscured the fact that the region is now a safer place

JPost, staff: Former Shin Bet chief: Iran deal is best option for Israel

Admiral (res.) Ami Ayalon says the deal will slow down Iran's fast track to creating a nuclear bomb and that "when it comes to Iran's nuclear capability, this [deal] is the best option."\

24 July 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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