New York, September 25, 2012 – When Carl Hobert told a group of 50 students to stand if they’d ever lost a friend or family member to gun violence, nearly all of them stood.
Hobert, of Axis of Hope Center for International Conflict Prevention, looked around at the students of Fenway High School. “Take how you relate,” Hobert told the students, “and build a bridge to how they relate.”
The time spent with Hobert and the students was just one of many impactful events of the International Engagement Program’s (IEP) New England tour. Over 200 people heard Adva’s and Ahmad’s message earlier in the week, and IEP continued to emphasize the parallel programs of their respective offices, as well as IEP’s “call to action” campaign, targeted at the next American president.
Day three of the tour saw the youth leaders at the Educating Global Citizens class at Boston University, the Harvard College Interfaith Council, and finally Tufts University’s J Street U group event.
“We have a common goal but we need to achieve it in different ways,” Adva said of OneVoice Israel and (OVI) and OneVoice Palestine (OVP) during the Tufts event. “What I see as the most important thing about our partnership is not that we need to do things together...but that we can separately do pragmatic things that will put more positive steps on the ground. I'm not trying to do dialogue. I'm trying to show there's a partner on both sides.”
The fourth and final day reached over 560 people, and included stops at Beaver Country Day School, Brandeis University, Brookline Workmen’s Circle, and the aforementioned Fenway High School. The dominant discussion was what Americans can do to help promote the two-state solution.
One comment from a Brandeis participant challenged American involvement in spearheading efforts to push parties to the table. IEP associate Shaina Low, in response to such criticism, reaffirmed America’s role in resolving the conflict.
“The American government has…a lot of influence,” Shaina said. “At OneVoice, we can say that all of our calls for the American public are coming directly from Israelis and Palestinians, who are in the majority of their societies. Maybe it’s not a vocal majority, maybe it’s a silent majority, but it is the majority.”
Ahmad jumped on this theme when he addressed the Workmen’s Circle later that day. “You [as Americans] do have a role,” he said. “Help the American leadership say what needs to be said, and to support Israelis and Palestinians with our work on the ground.”