If you build it, will they come?

Oct 01, 2007 Published under Uncategorized

After a year of very hard work to build the OneVoice Summit: One
Million Voices To End The Conflict, things were approaching the
haywire (is that the right expression?) and looking quite hairy. A
top Arab Head of State who had committed to lead had backed out,
hurting morale and momentum. No musical talent had firmly signed up.

People were literally panicking. Yes, the grassroots effort was
picking up powerfully, but without some dignitaries or celebs, the
media would not give this meaningful coverage, which in turn would
decrease popular participation and hurt the message.

So much hard work, so much dedication from a wonderful team across
three continents, so much riding not just for OneVoice but for the
mission. Were we going to disappoint ourselves and our supporters?
Were we going to fail when the stakes are so high?

In the meantime Hamas has been increasing its attacks on Palestinian
President Abbas, calling him an illegitimate traitor and questioning
his mandate to negotiate with Olmert. Is the November conference
going to be another wasted photo opportunity without a clear forceful
mandate from the people?

Some good things started happening.

The Palestinian line up was cemented earlier, with Ilham Madfai, a top
Arab musician beloved by the Palestinian people, agreeing to come
(thanks to M Morad’s intro), and inspiring leading Palestinian
performers to join. It doesn’t hurt that George Ibrahim, legendary
Palestinian maverick of arts, was driving the artistic line-up.

But the Israeli local line up was all still contingent and shaky.

Many had already discounted our chances two months ago. It’s too
close. People are scared to come. We heard it all.

But our partners stayed steadfast. Shuki Weiss invested himself.
Chris Wangro gave it all he had. And Michael Lang, well, the guy is
the coolest pickle around (like the Fonz)…

I asked Michael Lang if he was worried we were running out of time.
He said, “you know, it always seems like its going to unravel, and
then somehow things always come together at the end.”

Prophetic words of destiny? Or sheer determination? Or both?

All of a sudden good things started to happen.

My friend Yasmine Shihata told me Bryan Adams had heard about this,
and wanted to find a way to help us push to end all the suffering.
Now he will be performing both in Jericho and Tel Aviv.

Michael briefed Rage Against The Machine and they really connected
with the message of – enough with excuses and failures of leadership,
let the people stand and, well, rage against the machine! Though they
won’t all be able to come their lead hopefully will.

Michael also reached the Foo Fighters, and Perry Farrel of Jane’s
Addiction, who understood the importance of mobilizing the moderate
voices to demand an end to the conflict and will hopefully send a

Shuki confirmed Machina and Ehud Banay – and started getting phone
calls from dozens others. Now we have the biggest musical line-up in
Israeli history – precisely bc this is not about music alone, but
about something far bigger that brings us all together.

Our surfing partners, Doc and David Paskowitz of Surfing for Peace,
signed up Kelly Slater, the biggest surfing star in the world, who in
turn will hopefully help bring some of the rockers…

Now we have the fortunate problem of making choices.

Same is true on dignitary front, which I’ll blog about separately.

Sent from my iPhone – pardon typos

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  1. Iraqi Jew said:

    Ilham AlMadfaii is a fantastic Iraqi singer.
    Have you tried inviting Yair Dallal from Israel?
    Good Luck. What a fantastic effort.

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