New York, October 27, 2010–Members of OneVoice Palestine (OVP) met with Samaritan community leaders to discuss the potential for town hall meetings and the creation of an OVP chapter in Kiryat Luza on Mount Gerizim, near the West Bank city of Nablus, on Monday.
The Samaritans, whose population consists of about 500, are the smallest minority community living within the occupied Palestinian territories. As Jews living in Palestine in possession of Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian passports, the Samaritans have a vested interest in seeing an end to the conflict.
“We wanted to connect with them because like OneVoice they believe in the two-state solution," said Mohammad Asideh, president of OVP’s youth council, who attended the ceremony."They will become very strong supporters of our movement. The Samaritans are against violent conflict and strongly support direct negotiations.”
The visit by OVP coincided with the feast of the Tabernacles, or Sukkot, a harvest festival that is celebrated in Samaritan culture by hanging assorted local fruits to create decorative designs on the ceilings of houses. Together, families sit and invite one another into their homes, bringing good luck and reflecting on their identity.
Asideh was joined by OVP Executive Director Samer Makhlouf, activist Mohammad Konne of Nablus, and other OVP members, were invited to join the festivities and were given religious and historical background of both the holiday and community.
Makhlouf introduced OneVoice and its mission, which calls for the end of the Israeli military occupation and the establishment of a independent Palestine state living at peace with Israel. He also encouraged youths and community members present to support the efforts of the movement.
The Samaritan Legend Association announced their desire to work with OVP and to establish a chapter within the near future.
The Samaritan religion is Abrahamic and falls outside traditional Judaism. According to their beliefs they are the direct descendants of the Northern Israelite tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh.
This November Asideh will be participating in the fifth and final OneVoice International Education Program (IEP) of 2010. He will be accompanied by OneVoice Israel (OVI) youth leader Eliran Eyal, and will tour college campuses and institutions in Southern California and Colorado. Asideh and Eyal will educate students and community leaders in the United States, exposing them to voices from the Middle East living in conflict.