Inception of OneVoice
Citizen Negotiations, Building a Grassroots Network
What Are You Willing to Do?
One Million Voices to End the Conflict
Enough is Enough
Saying What Needs to Be Said
Building Grassroots Support and Connecting with Political Leadership
After five years of engaging Palestinians and Israelis, OneVoice has launched its boldest campaign yet: ‘What Are You Willing To Do To End the Conflict?’ The campaign aims to vest the people with the power and responsibility to drive the agenda for a two-state solution.
Beginning in the fall of 2006, OneVoice has been mobilizing a variety of social sectors – from Palestinian farmers to Israeli kibbutzim, from religious leaders to the leaders of refugee camps – and uniting them under the banner of the OneVoice Mandate to demand decisive action from their elected leaders.
In September 2006, the ‘What Are You Willing To Do?’ campaign was launched in the streets of the West Bank, Israel, and Gaza. OneVoice began to plant the seeds of personal responsibility and civic action through a viral sticker campaign. Thousands of stickers in Hebrew and Arabic were placed in cities, villages, refugee camps, and moshavim, asking every person the same question: “What are you willing to do to end the conflict?”
This evocative campaign was the launch pad for several large-scale events, including a presentation at the World Economic Forum, an event with the Israeli and Palestinian women’s movements, and the launch of an innovative platform for collaboration among grassroots activists. All of these initiatives focused on amplifying the voice of moderation and reinvigorating negotiations towards a two-state solution.
At the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, OneVoice’s Youth Leaders were given center stage during a plenary session packed with over 2,000 dignitaries and global business leaders. A series of video statements featuring the Youth Leaders were played on an oversized screen at the front of the forum; at the podium, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and Israeli Vice-Premier Shimon Peres responded to the statements with candor. Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, noted that it was the first time ever that ordinary citizens addressed their heads of state directly at the Forum.
Professor Schwab introduced the session by explaining, "I have the privilege to share this key session, if not the most important, at this year's meeting." He added, "We thought we should give voice to the ordinary people and you should listen."
For the Israeli statement, OneVoice Israel had gathered over 200 Youth Leaders and supporters at Tel Aviv University to film a statement to the leaders in Davos. The primary message, delivered by OneVoice Israel Program Director Adi Balderman, was to tell the Leaders: “…the people are with you, there are no more excuses. What are you, our leaders, willing to do to end the conflict?” It was a powerful call from nationalistic Israelis, demanding that elected representatives take immediate action toward negotiating a two-state solution.
OneVoice Palestine had filmed and recorded its statement during a gathering of more than 400 Palestinians in Al-Kasabah Theater in Ramallah. Nisreen Shahin, Executive Director of OneVoice Palestine, delivered a forceful message expressing the determination of Palestinians to end occupation and push their leaders to negotiate and achieve a two-state solution.
For the third statement, OneVoice Israel and OneVoice Palestine had come together in Jerusalem to film a joint statement calling for moderation and a two-state solution. The statement, delivered by Eran Schafferman and Saed Mashaal, emphasized the shared destiny and shared future of the Israeli and Palestinian people. They noted the imperative for both sides to take action to make Jerusalem a free city for all religions.
Tzipi Livni, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Israel, said, "After watching together these wonderful youth, after listening to President Abbas, I have a feeling of sadness for lost opportunities, but also a great feeling of hope." She added, "But it is our responsibility as leaders to give them the hope. We must make a promise and fulfill ... the vision of two states living side by side in peace."
Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority said, "As I heard these messages, hope rose in my heart that peace is possible, and overdue." President Abbas explained he always believed in the primacy of people-to-people relations and expressed hope that "These gatherings are what will lead to peace." He stated emphatically: "I am fully convinced that in spite of all the difficulties, peace is possible."
OneVoice WEF Eye-Opener: http://assets.onevoicemovement.org/video/wef/wtd_wef_flash.html
Jerusalem Message: http://assets.onevoicemovement.org/video/wef/jerusalem.html
Ramallah Message: http://assets.onevoicemovement.org/video/wef/ramallah.html
Tel Aviv Message: http://assets.onevoicemovement.org/video/wef/tel-aviv.html
In February, OneVoice reached out to the women’s movements in both Israel and Palestine. Recognizing the essential role that women play in this conflict, OneVoice set out to showcase what women are willing to do to foster a better future for the next generation. The Israeli event was held at Tel Aviv University, the Palestinian event in the city of Jericho in the West Bank. At each, the attendees crafted and filmed statements in order to send messages to their own people and to the other side about the importance of playing a role in ending the conflict.
OneVoice has been fortunate to have received the support of the IBM Foundation since early in the movement’s development. For the ‘What Are You Willing To Do?’ campaign, IBM developed a multilingual platform to link and connect individuals and organizations who wish to take action to end the conflict. This Web-based platform serves as a database for international cooperation. It functions in English, Hebrew, and Arabic to build partnerships by spanning geographic and linguistic divides.
In March, OneVoice brought this innovative tool directly to the people in Israel and the West Bank by canvassing streets, schools, and restaurants. OneVoice also reached out to the high-tech community through outreach and newsletters.
April brought with it an important development from the Arab world: the Saudi Peace Initiative.
OneVoice Israel designed a creative campaign to draw people’s attention to the Saudi Initiative. The message was simple - The Saudi initiative is not the ultimate answer, but it is an important opportunity that Israelis must be aware of.
OneVoice Palestine organized an event with Palestinian farmers in the village of Beddo, which is one of fifteen Arab villages located northwest of Jerusalem. Farmers from the surrounding villages gathered to express their determination to use non-violent means to end the conflict and live in peace and dignity. To demonstrate the role they pledge to play in ending the conflict, they planted olive trees and sent messages to their elected leaders and to their Israeli counterparts.
In May, OneVoice Israel invited its youth leadership to take part in the Kibbutz movement’s Shavuot Festival at Gan Shmuel. The Kibbutz movement has a rich tradition of exhibiting its agricultural produce in an exciting and impressive ceremony. As part of ongoing efforts to appeal to different sectors of the population, OneVoice reached out to the people of the Kibbutz movement (the kibbutznikim) in coordination with Mr. Gavri Bar Gil, the head of the Kibbutz movement. OneVoice asked them: "What are you willing to do to end the conflict?" Thousands of Israeli farmers and friends participated in the event.
In the West Bank, OneVoice Palestine gathered more than 700 people in the district of Salfeet, where 200 children sang, danced, and gave speeches about hope and peace. This event was also part of the "What Are You Willing to Do?" campaign.
In response to the violence in June between Hamas and Fatah, OneVoice Palestine Youth Leaders in Hebron, Bethlehem, Jericho, Ramallah, and Salfeet went into the streets to paint murals of Palestinian flags with text reading: “One Flag, One Nation, One Homeland” and “OneVoice” in Arabic. Volunteers planted trees and distributed OneVoice flyers to passersby.
The initiative was conceived as a response to the crisis faced by Palestinian society, and as a way of spreading the message that Palestinians are one people with one flag, working together for a two-state solution.