OneVoice Palestine Executive Director Samer Makhlouf, Governor Rabeeh al-Khandakji, and Palestinian Authority Minister Maher Ghoneim lead a town hall meeting in the West Bank city of Qalqilya on Wednesday.
New York, October 27, 2011—Prominent business leaders attended grassroots youth meetings in West Bank communities on Wednesday, their third day on a delegation trip led by OneVoice Founder Daniel Lubetzky, CEO Howard Sumka, and Seinfeld actor Jason Alexander.
The delegation, which includes Fred Schaufeld of NEW Customer Service Companies, Pat Patterson of MacKenzie Patterson Fuller, and James K. Cummings of The Nathan Cummings Foundation, attended OneVoice Palestine’s town hall meeting in Qalqilya and youth leadership gathering in Nablus, with over 100 participants at each events. The trip aimed to support the efforts of OneVoice’s youth activists in building a movement for peace from the ground up.
“Students can make a difference and push their respective governments to make changes,” said James Cummings of The Nathan Cummings Foundation, after meeting the movement’s youth activists in Nablus. He was impressed by their “commitment and courage,” given the level of blame and resistance that exists in both Israeli and Palestinian societies.
OVP, in partnership with Governor Rabeeh al-Khandakji and Palestinian Authority Minister Maher Ghoneim, hosted the packed Qalqilya town hall meeting at city hall. The discussion focused on the impact of settlements and land swaps that have historically crippled Qalqilya’s agriculturally based economy. Issues of a future Palestinian state were also raised along with OVP’s efforts to achieve the two-state solution.
“We need to find a way to co-exist,” said Lubetzky to an applauding audience. “We need to evacuate the settlements, we need to recognize the suffering of refugees, and find a way for some of the refugees to be reunited with their families, but then you need to find a way to live with Israel.”
Following the Qalqilya town hall meeting, delegates traveled to Nablus in a gathering of around 150 OVP youth leaders. The meeting shed light on OVP’s work and allowed the delegates to freely talk with the youth activists from Nablus and Jenin.
“For me, it’s about the future. I do not want my children, or my brothers and sisters, to have to go through the humiliations and struggles that me and my father went through,” said OVP youth activist Thuraya Aghbar to the delegation. “The only way to change our situation is for the youth to make the change, and push our leaders in the right direction.”
OneVoice leveraged its extensive network of entrenched youth activists this year to empower and mobilize the people on both sides to propel their leaders to take bold action for peace.
“You are the heart of the movement,” said OneVoice CEO Howard Sumka. “It’s fantastic to see so many people here committed to ending this conflict and to two states.”