New York, September 27, 2012 – The International Engagement Program (IEP) just concluded the first tour of this academic year. From Sept. 10-13, over 800 individuals throughout New England engaged with OneVoice youth activists, listening to their memorable experiences working on the ground and heeding the call for Americans to help them achieve a viable two-state solution.
Youth Leadership Program Director Adva Vilchinski of OneVoice Israel was one of these activists. We talked to Adva on her way back home about her time on tour.
OneVoice: From start to finish, how do you think this tour went?
Adva: It was great. People were very interested in what we had to say and the audience members were eager to act and sign the petition. We also had many different, diverse audiences, which was a great part of the tour…we talked with little children and older people, and that is very important for spreading OneVoice’s message.
OneVoice: Why is the International Engagement Program important to the mission of Israelis and Palestinians seeking a viable two-state solution? And why is it important to Americans?
Adva: IEP is another way to get the word out and a way that people worldwide can pressure their leaders because they, too, are important actors. It is important to Americans because if they can put enough pressure on their leaders, it will be on the president’s agenda and then he could compel our leaders into acting. And it is important for Americans to know about the region, to know that their money isn’t wasted.
OneVoice: What were the most commonly asked questions? Were there any that particularly challenged you? How do you approach questions like these?
Adva: Many asked why Israelis appear less concerned about the Palestinians than they are with Iran, while others wondered why our programs are parallels and not combined. I thought [the latter] was a very important question, and the answer is we are parallel to show that we are partners in this effort for a two-state solution [while working in our communities]. The hardest questions were from the children – for instance, some asked, “Why is there a conflict?” Those really made me think because children keep it simple. In the end, we’re not doing a blame game, we’re trying to solve it.
OneVoice: What experiences resonated with your audiences and why do you think this happened?
Adva: We shared much of our work with the participants and by far the ones that interested them the most were the creative campaigns. For instance, we partnered with the #J14 Movement and created an ice wall to show how settlement expansion and the freeze in negotiations affects Israel’s economy, and audiences really liked it. I believe they enjoyed such campaigns because of this creativity.