London, December 21, 2011—OneVoice Europe’s Outreach and Education Program is a new, and rapidly expanding, project aimed at engaging and influencing thousands across the United Kingdom.
Since May, OneVoice has brought four Israeli and Palestinian youth leaders to 15 schools and 14 diverse communities to share their stories with over 1,200 British students and community members. Additionally, OneVoice has set up video conferences to connect youth leaders in Israel and Palestine with over 200 people around the country. What follows are highlights from the 2011 tours:
- Running two events with women’s communities during our November tour focusing on the essential role women need to play in conflict resolution and the positive response youth leaders Shir Lachish and Thuraya Aghbar generated.
- Bringing an Israeli narrative of pragmatism and peace to 25 Muslim girls at the Islamia Girls Secondary School, many of whom had never been exposed to an Israeli moderate’s perspective or to a joint Israeli-Palestinian proposal for a two-state solution.
- Eating baklava and other Arabic sweets on Edgeware road with Shir and Thuraya to celebrate Eid.
- Seeing the level of interest and knowledge St. Paul’s student exhibited during the school session with Thuraya and Shir, and the prospect of running a joint school tour in Israel and the West Bank with students from St. Paul’s and OneVoice activists.
- The obvious impact Uri Fishelson and Antwan Saca made on the girls at Handsworth Wood Girls School, Birmingham, and witnessing how the two youth leaders encouraged the students to open up the discussion to more diverse viewpoints.
- Seeing OneVoice youth leaders Shir Lachish and Ahmad Omeir use a live video conference to help build bridges between faith communities at an event with Makki Masjid and St. Agnes’ Longsight Parish Church.
- Taking Thuraya to eat her first dish of noodles on Carnaby Street in London and teaching her to eat with chopsticks.
- Watching Thuraya and Shir tell their personal stories in conjunction with Robi Damelin and Seham Abu Awwad from the Bereaved Families Forum. It was an emotional moment seeing the two generations of women come together for the same cause.
- Seeing the connections made between youth leaders Uri and Antwan and the sixth formers they spoke with during the May tour, who will in turn take OneVoice’s message to polarized university campuses.
- Hearing Foreign Affairs Shadow Minister Stephen Twigg mirror OneVoice’s Tal Harris and Rami Rabayah in his calls for increased pressure from civil society and increased grassroots mobilization in pushing for a two-state solution.