OneVoice in 2009: breaking taboos

By email from OneVoice:

“2009 opened with a variety of new opportunities and unforeseen challenges which have dramatically altered the political landscape in the Middle East – elections and a war, new administrations and more violence. In some ways, the greatest challenge facing us this year is not what has changed, but what has stubbornly persisted: Palestinians still live under occupation, without freedom or independence; Israelis still live under threat from rocket attacks, without security or safety. The dream of two states for two peoples has not been realized.

The tragedy of the Gaza war widened the rift between Israelis and Palestinians – a schism that was acutely felt by OneVoice’s Israeli and Palestinian teams on the ground, threatening the very fabric of the Movement. None were more affected than our Gaza staff, who had to be evacuated following the war, and who have been temporarily relocated to the West Bank. But across all staff and members, there was an enormous amount of trust lost, which needed to be rebuilt.

To confront the situation, over the past two months, OneVoice has been engaged in a deep process of introspection, self-evaluation, political assessment, and strategic consultation to address the current situation and devise a way forward – we came together as a team, Israelis, Palestinians, and internationals, and in so doing were able to reach some conclusions about how we can strengthen the Movement, address the changing realities on the ground, and effect real change this year. After conferring with the OVI and OVP Youth Councils, the International Steering Committee, the International and Regional Boards, and staff from across the offices, OneVoice’s global leadership met together in Jerusalem in late February, and agreed on the following:

OneVoice can play a key role in the process – offering a concrete way forward to both peoples. We have built an unparalleled infrastructure and youth movement based on a unique premise: each side working in its own national self-interest to achieve freedom, independence, security, dignity, viability, and international recognition for both peoples.

But nothing will ever change if we don’t have the courage to say what needs to be said and do what needs to be done. Beneath the surface of the phrase “two state solution” there is a great deal of consensus that is yet to be forged within and between both societies – a great deal of understanding that is still missing. Even with our signatories and team members, we have recognized that Palestinians and Israelis have yet to acknowledge the legitimate concerns and perspectives of the other side. OneVoice has a critical role to play in civic education: in tackling the reality of the historic compromise that will be required of both Israelis and Palestinians in order to end the occupation of Palestine, to guarantee the security of Israel, and to resolve the conflict once and for all based on a formula of mutual recognition between two independent and viable states: Israel and Palestine.

Our programs for 2009 will be focused exclusively on the need to take courageous steps and break taboos on each side in order to make progress. It will certainly not be easy – but we simply have no time to lose. The window for a two state solution is closing, and this must be the year we make the critical difference.

We look forward to updating you with more detail in the coming weeks.”

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