OneVoice Movement: Message from Paul

23 March 2009

OneVoice Movement: Message from Paul "Whilst I was in the Middle East, I visited a music school in Bethlehem (Palestine) and did a concert in Tel Aviv (Israel). While I was there, I met with a group of young people who go under the name of OneVoice. They told me that the vast majority of people living in the region want nothing more than a peaceful life and a chance to look after their families and themselves like other people in the world. I was very impressed with their thinking and their enthusiasm for a peaceful resolution to the problems in the area and would like to introduce the organisation to you. Here are some details about them...

OneVoice is a grassroots movement of Israeli and Palestinian citizens and international supporters who are fed up with the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and who are ready and eager to support a serious peace process, leading to a comprehensive agreement that will fulfil the hopes and beliefs of both the Palestinian and Israeli people to end occupation and all forms of violence and establish a two state solution. What makes OneVoice unique is that it appeals to the national self interest of both peoples. They don't ask each side to like or love each other; rather they ask them to recognise the entangled nature of their fates, and the need to address the concerns on each side so that they can fulfil their respective moderate national ambitions. Just a few of their main activities include: OneVoice's Youth Leadership Programme:

To date, OneVoice has engaged over 600,000 Israeli and Palestinian citizens who have signed their mandate for change. Over 2,500 of these signatories have gone on to become Youth Leaders, who volunteer their time to drive the movement forward- becoming genuine agents for change and authentic leaders within communities all over Israel and Palestine. As part of the programme, some of Israel and Palestine's most talented young people (aged 18-25) are given key training in fields such as public speaking, negotiation and persuasion, conflict resolution, community organising and non-violent protest. We have chapters all over Israel and Palestine, where committees of Youth Leaders plan and execute programmes to increase awareness of the issues amongst their compatriots, pressuring their leaders to get back to the negotiating table and end the conflict once and for all. Our network of Youth Leaders- as well as being loud and constant advocates for pragmatism, moderation and an end to the conflict- provide us with a dedicated resource of passionate volunteers, allowing OneVoice to mount widespread, highly visible grassroots projects such as: The Breaking Taboos Programme:

Progress at the negotiating table is only one step in the process of reaching an agreement that can be implemented. An end to the conflict will only come when the leaders come to an agreement that their peoples are ready to understand, accept, and support; it is imperative that the public understand the process. That's why OneVoice contracted Dr. Colin Irwin, who devised a groundbreaking polling method, which he has used in conflicts such as Kashmir, Kosovo, Sri Lanka- and, most successfully- Northern Ireland, where he worked closely with people such as Senator George Mitchell in the run-up to the Good Friday Agreement. The poll aims to highlight hidden consensus, and build genuine new directions toward inter-community underatnading and compromise. You can read the full poll here.

Using the results of the poll as a spring-board, OneVoice's staff and Youth Leaders are now going to cities, towns and villages across Israel and Palestine, discussing the most sensitive taboo issues with a broad cross-section of both societies, and relaying the results to the other side. By building genuine momentum and popular participation, OneVoice is giving ownership of the issues surrounding the conflict- and the responsibility to end it- back to the grassroots, asking them what will you do to end the conflict?, and then giving them a platform to do it. Find out more about OneVoice, and their unique approach to ending the conflict at: