New York, August 16, 2012—With big ambitions for growth in Europe, OneVoice capitalized on positive word of mouth surrounding its Outreach and Education Program and made inroads this July in Germany toward possibly opening a branch.
For some time, Outreach and Education Director Sharon Alsoodani has led a video conferencing series, connecting UK communities vested in the Middle East conflict with OneVoice’s Israeli and Palestinian activists working to build peace. Over 38 sessions, reaching more than 900 individuals, have allowed this often highly volatile topic to be addressed in an intimate and safe environment. This led English teacher Elisabeth Deisenhofer at Theresien-Gymnasium, a high school in Ansbach, to reach out and request OneVoice hold such sessions with her students.
“These were some of the most successful school sessions we’ve done as part of the Outreach and Education Program,” said Alsoodani. “The students showed a high level of engagement and interest, having studied the subject recently as part of their school curriculum, and asked questions ranging from life in Palestine and Israel to more political ones on settlements and a bi-national state.”
OneVoice Palestine’s Wasim al-Masri in Ramallah and OneVoice Israel’s Gabi Avner in Tel Aviv engaged a total of 80 students over the course of two sessions, offering their firsthand experiences and insights in a manner that allowed their audience to easily relate. The powerful and immediate impact of the session was evident when many of the students grabbed flyers advertising the program’s Facebook forum, and later that day, began to actively participate in the conversation. The school expressed interest in holding more sessions with OneVoice.
Alsoodani took full advantage of her time in Germany by travelling to Munich for meetings with several local and national Israel-Palestine dialogue groups. All of them expressed support for the two-state solution, although skepticism was rife.
Salam-Shalom, a local Munich group with Jewish, Muslim and Palestinian members, felt that negotiations had run their course and sought more aggressive action to achieve a just and permanent peace agreement. On the other hand, Beth Shalom, a liberal Jewish community with branches across Germany, strongly believed achieving the two-state solution was not only possible, but imperative. Despite the groups running the gamut, they all welcomed the opportunity to help OneVoice with outreach efforts.
In related news, a group of German students on a trip to the Middle East paid OneVoice's office a visit last week, where they spoke with staff and youth leaders. The students seemed energized and eager to take action to help achieve the two-state solution. Their enthusiasm served as further encouragement for OneVoice to explore fundraising opportunities in Germany, with the help of locally-based volunteers, that would enable the movement to open an office there.
If you know of any potential outreach or fundraising opportunities that could facilitate OneVoice’s further growth in Germany, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.