Take a look at these OV pictures from the Palestinian and Israeli streets. What is their meaning?
Amidst growing acrimony, polarization and violence in the Middle East, it may be difficult to visualize how we can actually channel the frustrated energies of millions of Israelis and Palestinians – those who desire a better life for their children – into a process that will actually lead to ending the conflict.
And yet, that is what we – together – are about to do.
Violent extremists have been willing to sacrifice their lives – and the lives of others – to achieve absolutist visions that deny the humanity of the other side. They are a fringe minority, but they show a total commitment and hijack our governments and lives.
Ordinary Israelis and Palestinians – and their international supporters – overwhelmingly support a two-state solution, yet what has been missing is a willingness from us – the moderates on both sides – to do something about it.
So today we wish to announce the OneVoice Movement’s most ambitious undertaking to date: A campaign to encourage each and every one of us to answer the question: What Are You Willing to Do to End the Conflict and Achieve a Two State Solution?
People are not used to being asked about their role in ending the conflict, believing it is the responsibility of elected representatives to carry that burden. Ordinary citizens wonder, what am I to do? But when people are challenged to recognize their duty and power to make a positive difference, they come up with creative, powerful commitments.
We have quietly begun culling commitments over the last month, from multinational corporations to local farming cooperatives, from Palestinian Imams and Sheikhs to Israeli Rabbis, from teachers and school children, from artists and civil society organizations, from mayors, women’s associations, dignitaries – and, most importantly, from ordinary people on the streets.
We will start announcing commitments this fall. As you start seeing what others are willing to do, we ask you to think about what commitment you will make towards ending the conflict.
OneVoice will also coordinate monthly activities to aggregate the energy of committed volunteers and partner organizations through public events and manifestations such as rallies, marches, town hall meetings, festivals, and other events encouraging community involvement, public dialogue and concrete action, in order to press governments and the media to heed the will of the people.
And we will help you visualize the sentiment of the campaign by displaying commitments and pledges in public exhibitions, on the OneVoiceMovement.org website, via newsletters, billboards, along with internet ads and Public Service Announcements.
All activities will be managed in partnership with the 1,800 OneVoice Youth Leaders that we have trained over the last two years. We have also started signing people up to join the 210,000 that have joined the Movement to date – but in addition to asking them to sign up and pledge to live by the OV principles, this time we will ask them to make concrete commitments on what each of them is willing to do to end the conflict.
Indeed, our most important role will be to act as a catalyst to help unleash the untapped power of the people.
This month, OneVoice Palestinian and Israeli activists handed out 100,000 bumper stickers with the slogans “Shoo dourak?” and “Ma ata muchan la’asot?” – “What is Your Role?” and “What Are You Willing to Do?” in Arabic and Hebrew, respectively. The teaser campaign is intended to provoke people into understanding that if they want to end the misery and suffering caused by the conflict … they have to do something about it.
While the campaign starts with a general challenge to people to take action, in future updates we will explain how we will start tying activities and commitments to specific milestones that constitute concrete stepping stones toward a two-state solution.
It is true that there are limits to what mainstream citizens can do. But those have yet to be tested … because to date we, the people, have done extremely little, ceding all ground to extremists who have derailed positive efforts. But we must stand together, each of us doing our part to ensure that it does not happen again.