One voice: meet up—Craig Newmark and One Voice group

by on April 20, 2008 at 12:00 pm

The boy is late teens, handsome and fair, and his eyes are earnest as he talks: “In One Voice we don’t call it peace anymore; we want to bring about an a agreement that will bring bout comfort and a more stable situation than they have now. It’s not peace, it’s divorce…the metaphor says now we are pre divorce and we need to balance the situation…this is the difference between one voice and the normal peace movement that talks about peace and friendship.”
It’s a weekend morning, in Tel Aviv and Craig Newmark, JD Lasica and I are meeting with the director and a group of student leaders from One Voice , a powerful, grassroots peace movement that has engaged Israelis, especially college students, from all over Tel Aviv, Ramallah, and Gaza, as well as drawn in members from the US, the UK, Canada, and other parts of the world. The group is bright, committed, and right now, engaged in making sure this group of American bloggers and funders (Craig is on their board), understands how they work and what they have to offer.

Basically here’s what I learn:
The universities are flash-points for OneVoice recruitment, as are the occupied terrorities. The movement tries to educate through lectures and events, then recruits at various levels of engagement, from signing up for a newsletter (over 100K people in a country of 7 million) to attending events, to joining as an organizer.  For the students involved, One Voice clearly offers a change to discuss, a change to create change, but mostly importantly, a means to hope.

Here’s some of what the students tell us:

Marina:  This movement involves the public so they can have an opinion for themselves and think about what they support.

Tal: We try to enrich student understanding with lectures and knowledge; we also take the message of OneVoice and careful optimism and take it out on the streets, where we want to mobilize the students and the city residents.

Another student: We ask citizens what would you do to end the conflict? People can become policy makers, instead of just consumers of policy
Talking with this group, they make it clear to me that what engages them so deeply is the feeling of being empowered in a frustrating situation where it is so hard to effect policy changes. Because OneVoice is a participatory culture, with youth councils, leadership councils, and local action, it provides a means for these bright engaged students to avoid dispair, as well as to educate and inform.

Listening to the talk flow around me, and seeing the passion in these fresh eyes, it strikes me that like the African National Congress (ANC) for South African Doris Lessing and her fellow progressives in Johannesberg, so long ago, OneVoice provides a means to survive and hang on in an impossible situation by becoming a force for positive change. It strikes me that OneVoice is a great group, not only for what it offers in terms of the conflict, but the positive vision it offers Israel and Arab youth, and through them, their parents, families and neighbors
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