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Amplifying the voice of the Middle East’s moderate majority

Posted By Daniel Ben Tal On October 5, 2007 @ 11:00 pm In | No Comments

We’ll send a clear message on October 18th about a two-state solution.The months leading up to the planned US-hosted Middle East peace conference in November have seen a great deal of apathy and skepticism from all sides regarding the conference and the deeper issue – the prospects for a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The general apathy is not surprising, and the skepticism is perhaps not unwarranted. For forty years, the Israeli and Palestinian peoples have waited for their leaders to negotiate a resolution, and for forty years, a top-down peace process failed to yield results. Over decades we have all witnessed the domestic political stalemates, the international diplomatic shortcomings and the prolific violence. We have seen the leaders again and again sit down at the table, and walk away without an agreement.

In the meantime, militant absolutists and foreign fundamentalists have successfully used this lack of progress to drive a wedge between the two sides and prey on the situation, wreaking havoc on the region. Moderate citizens who want nothing more than to live their lives, to raise their children in safety and security, have remained silent, disengaged and disempowered, as their lives and destinies are hijacked by the perpetual cycle of violence.

It is a bleak image. But it is precisely this image that inspired the creation of the OneVoice Movement.

A mainstream nationalist grassroots movement with over 3,000 highly-trained youth leaders, OneVoice aims to amplify the voice of the overwhelming but heretofore silent majority of moderates who wish for peace and prosperity, empowering them to demand accountability from elected representatives and work toward a two-state solution. OneVoice counts on its Board over 60 foremost dignitaries and business leaders across a wide spectrum of politics and beliefs, joining as OneVoice against violent extremism and for conflict resolution.

To date, over half a million Israelis and Palestinians have signed the OneVoice Mandate calling on their heads of state to begin immediate, continuous negotiations until a resolution – a two-state solution – is achieved.

It is clear that political leaders, without the backing of their peoples, cannot make peace. Both Palestinian President Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Olmert need public support. That is why on October 18th, the Israeli and Palestinian people in unison will send a message to the world and to their leaders: ‘We demand immediate, uninterrupted negotiations till the completion of an agreement among our heads of State, to be presented to their people by October 18, 2008 – in one short year.’

It will be a clear message to those scheduled to sit down at the table in November, a loud voice resonating in both Israel and Palestine, and echoed by the international community, pledging support for the process and demanding results.

Yes, we have seen peace conferences fail to deliver before. But we – moderate citizens – have also allowed ourselves the luxury of silence and inaction. We must face the reality that we are standing before a quickly closing window of opportunity to change the course of this conflict, to lend our voices to a resolution before extremists succeed in rendering any progress intractable.

The road is not easy. As the Founder of OneVoice, there have been those times when thing seem very dark indeed – when I have questioned the very core of what I have chosen to do with my life, and really wondered whether OneVoice can make a difference. There have been enormous obstacles and setbacks, both on an organizational and on a political level.

But at these times it is necessary to remember there is no alternative but to prevail. Too much is at stake. We will act because there is no other option, and we will succeed because we must.

On October 18, OneVoice and the hundreds of thousands who stand in support of it will do just that – people will take a stand for an end to the conflict, will remind their leaders what is at stake and pledge to support them when they sit down. They will look toward the future – toward the coming year and the coming peace conference – and demand something more of themselves and of their leaders than the usual skepticism. They will demand resolution – NOW, together with one voice.

We need you there with us. The Israeli and Palestinian peoples need your support. Join us.


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