New York, October 27, 2011—Influential business leaders, led by OneVoice Founder Daniel Lubetzky, CEO Howard Sumka, and Seinfeld actor Jason Alexander, concluded on Thursday an intense four days of high level meetings with government officials mixed with attending grassroots activities in Israel and the West Bank.
The delegation, which includes Joshua Bernstein of Bernstein Management Corporation, Pat Patterson of MacKenzie Patterson Fuller, and Fred Schaufeld of NEW Customer Service Companies, met with Israeli celebrities such as Merav Michaeli, Lior Shlein, Shlomo Bar-Aba, and Judy Shalom Nir-Mozes at Tel Aviv’s Dan Hotel Thursday morning. Jason Alexander encouraged the celebrities and others in the public eye to join together and draw attention toward solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“The first time I came here with OneVoice, there was a lot more enthusiasm for the peace process, more optimism, but the gaps between both societies were huge,” said Alexander. “Now, the gaps are so much smaller. Really, they are. But that belief and optimism are gone. We need to get it back, we need to recognize and believe this is possible. If we do, this could be negotiated in a year.”
Koby Huberman, CEO of Strategic Landscapes and co-author of the Israeli Peace Initiative, also felt that a peace agreement was within grasp. “What we need is no more words, no more ideas or gimmicks,” he told the celebrity audience. “We need courage, that's all. Everything has been said, but nothing has been done.”
Throughout the week, the delegation met several Israeli and Palestinian politicians, from Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and senior Fatah official Nabil Shaath on the Palestinian side to former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Shimon Peres on the Israeli side. They also attended OneVoice Palestine’s town hall meeting in Qalqilya and youth leadership meeting in Nablus, with over 100 people participating in each event.
“Students can make a difference and push their respective governments to make changes,” said James Cummings of The Nathan Cummings Foundation, after meeting the movement’s youth activists in Nablus. He was impressed by their “commitment and courage,” given the level of blame and resistance that exists in both Israeli and Palestinian societies.
The trip aimed to support the efforts of OneVoice’s youth activists in building a movement for peace from the ground up. The movement has been leveraging its extensive network of entrenched youth activists this year to empower and mobilize the people on both sides to propel their leaders to take bold action for peace.