New York, September 25, 2012 – Professor Tamar Mayer believes that the world lives in the “seventh day” of the 1967 or Six-Day War, and will continue to unless something is done to change the dynamic.
“The majority of the population on each side [of the conflict] has been born into this unacceptable status quo,” said Mayer, director of the Rohatyn Center for International Affairs at Middlebury College. “And it is wholly appropriate that those who were born during the “seventh day” of the 1967 War lead [the change]. Our guests today fit this bill.”
Middlebury was just one of the many stops in the first tour of the International Engagement Program’s(IEP) fall semester. Staff members Adva Vilchinski of OneVoice Israel (OVI) and Ahmad Omeir of OneVoice Palestine (OVP) told over 800 New England participants – from schools to community members – that Americans can support their efforts on the ground while helping impact American foreign policy and help achieve Middle East peace.
From Sept. 10-13, Adva and Ahmad explained that Americans can play an important role in solving this conflict by participating in IEP’s “call to action,” which pressures the presidential candidates to put the conflict high on the agenda when one of them is elected.
The tour started with a visit to Middlebury and then Dartmouth College on the first day, followed by a Middle East Politics class at UMass-Lowell and a J Street event at Eitz Chayim Synagogue on day two.
“We believe at OneVoice Israel that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not something which belongs to the left or right,” Adva said when asked about partisanship during the Dartmouth event. “It's something for all the people because ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is good for all Israelis no matter how you vote.”
Ahmad told audience members that the US has a continued role to play in reviving the two-state solution.
“When you try to work with change, and try to bring change into [Palestinian] society, it’s a long and difficult process,” said Ahmad. “You need to mobilize people. You’re shocking people out of their apathy, out of their despair and skepticism…by trying to show them that by creating positive facts, by getting them invested personally, that there is chance to actually achieve that solution. [And] what we need from the moderator [the US] is to be honest and neutral and help us have the right environment to move forward with the negotiations in a limited timeframe.”
Throughout the events, Adva offered her experiences in activist mobilization, outreach, and countering the pro-settlement expansion agenda, while Ahmad spoke about what a successful two-state solution needs: an end to the occupation and of all final status issues based on international resolutions, along with the creation of an independent Palestinian state.
Adva and Ahmad’s message was not lost on the days’ participants, but rather echoed and enhanced early and often.
Professor Mayer told the Middlebury audience that Adva, Ahmad, and their OneVoice peers “are engaged in peace and consensus-building efforts, working within their national communities to end the conflict.”
“They are committed to a two-state solution based on the June 4th, 1967 lines that will guarantee an end to the occupation,” she said. “They are Israeli and Palestinian activists who have dedicated themselves to working towards change and a better future for their societies.”