Over 50 global leaders gathered in Jerusalem on May 22-24 to evaluate the best means to leverage moderate policies over the political process.
Members of the OneVoice Honorary Board and of the Trustee Advisory Council, including two dozen international participants from the US, UK, Canada, Mexico, South Africa, and Pakistan joined Israeli and Palestinian Board members and staff for two days of intensive consultations on how the OneVoice Movement can achieve the maximum impact in propelling elected representatives to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
The meeting followed a gathering on May 21st at the World Economic Forum’s Sharm el Sheik summit where Lady Suzanne Mubarak recognized and applauded the efforts of OneVoice Youth Leaders in a special session.
Meetings included briefings with Israeli and Palestinian political leaders, a luncheon with press correspondents from Ha’aretz, the Jerusalem Post, ABC News, Al-Arabiyya, NPR, and Al Ayyam, among others, and a dinner with a coalition between the leaders of the youth wings of all the major Israeli political parties. Several meetings in Ramallah had to be suspended due to clashes between the Israeli Army and forces loyal to Islamic Jihad.
At a dinner in Jerusalem, 40 youth representatives of the OneVoice Leadership Council exchanged thoughts with Board members on how to enhance the grassroots movement and unleash the potential of young Palestinians and Israelis in seizing back the agenda for conflict resolution. To date, over 500 Israelis and 1,200 Palestinians have received training in the OneVoice Leadership program. A future update will share plans for how to organically grow the Youth Leadership Program and the OneVoice Movement.
Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz praised OneVoice’s mission and committed to help facilitate access for Israeli and Palestinian activists working together for conflict resolution.
210,000 Israelis and Palestinians to date have signed the OneVoice Contract and/or become OneVoice Citizen Negotiators. The key questions before the Board this year were whether in 2006-2007 OneVoice should aggressively recruit more signatures to reach a critical mass of supporters, invest in a broad campaign to empower people to recognize their power – and duty – to make a difference, and/or invest in intensive youth leadership training to further build the core grassroots infrastructure of the movement.
The Board also debated whether on not recruitment should revolve around the OneVoice Contract and/or OneVoice Citizen Negotiations or if separate campaigns should be utilized this year. Examples of separate recruitment campaigns include a campaign on the Palestinian side to demand accountability from the Palestinian government by urging recognition of prior agreements by the PA and the PLO and endorsement of the Arab Peace Initiative. OneVoice Israeli, Palestinian and International Staff were tasked with finalizing the action plan, which will be unveiled in a future update.
OV Israeli, Palestinian and International
staff shared OneVoice’s accomplishments in 2005-2006,
· Recruiting over 210,000 Israelis and Palestinians to date as signatories to the OneVoice Contract, including 140,000 of whom have become Citizen Negotiator;
· Training over 1,200 Palestinians and over 500 Israelis to date in skills of non-violence mobilization, community organization, OneVoice philosophy and methodology, and having these youth volunteers organize gatherings, canvassing recruitment drives, town hall meetings, and other events;
· Executing 3 Public Service Announcements for the Palestinian and Israeli elections that were picked up by scores of news stations and viewed by millions of Palestinians, Israelis and Arabs across the region;
· Organizing Get Out The Vote Campaigns around PLC and Knesset elections to get moderates, particularly youth, to vote;
· Commissioning two polls that highlighted the hidden common ground among moderates and emphasized the challenging environment in which citizens operate;
· Reaching tens of thousands of Palestinians and several thousand Israelis through Town Hall Meetings to discuss issues such as democratization, principles of non-violence, conflict resolution methodologies, and grassroots empowerment mechanisms;
· Securing 328 newspaper, TV, and radio feature stories that reached tens of millions of Israelis, Palestinians, Arabs, Americans and Europeans with a message of moderation and determination against violent extremism on both sides;
· Organizing a
Campaign emphasizing the majority of Israelis’ support of soldiers’ evacuation
Gazasettlements, including an internet campaign and a caravan of busloads of activists handing out flowers to soldiers at the kissufim junction;
· Co-organizing a massive rally in Ramallah with 4,000 OneVoice members and 6,000 additional participants from fellow NGOs where Palestinians supported independence, peace, freedom and democracy;
three Joint Meetings in Jerusalem
Jerusalemamong 180 Israeli and Palestinian OneVoice Youth Leaders to enable them to plan and work together;
· Building an unprecedented coalition among the chairs of the youth movements of the 7 largest Israeli political parties and catalyzing their issuance of a declaration against extremism and a related campaign;
· Sending delegations of OneVoice activists to speak at over 50 campuses in 25+ cities in the US, Canada and the UK with a unified Israeli-Palestinian message against violent extremism and against boycotts, dehumanization and divestment, and for mobilizing citizens towars conflict resolution, reaching thousands of students as well as Jewish and Muslim communities through talks at mosques and synagogues;
· Working with over 50 Israeli and Palestinian member organizations, including co-founding a coalition of Palestinian NGOs working for peace and democracy;
The Board meeting served as an important tool with which to analyze our progress thus far and, as Board member David Levin (CEO of United Business Media PLC) summed up, to determine the best way to achieve OneVoice's goal to “contribute in a material way to end the conflict.”