The Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006 gave Hamas a plurality
in all districts except one.

The only place where Hamas was soundly defeated and gained not one
seat was Qalqiliya. What is remarkable about Qalqiliya is that it is
also the only area where Hamas had gained total control in the prior
municipal elections less than a year before.

According to two different polls, if elections were held again today
15% to 25% would vote for Hamas, underlining that wherever Hamas has
governed, it has provided the roots of its own demise.

The BIG problem is that this lesson is not lost on Hamas itself and
they are unlikely to accept new elections.

Like Bernard Lewis once wrote, Islamist parties believe in the axiom
of ‘one man, one vote, one time.’

They will probably have to face the destiny of the Taliban.

Sent from my iPhone – pardon typos
.

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This last Friday, Gazans organized a protest against Hamas. They
called on people to pray outside the mosques.

The background to this is that Hamas has seized total control of the
mosques, banning any Imam who does not follow the party line, and
using the pulpit for their political and ideological propaganda.

Needless to say, the people are fed up about Hamas’s abuses. What is
remarkable is that this protest came from the people and from civil
society groups, not from political parties.

This is thus a potential milestone, when the fight is not just between
Fatah and Hamas, but now also between Hamas oppression and popular
disgust.

Hamas reacted with harshness, beating up people praying on the
streets, which will only further alienate the public.

Reporters were injured in an effort to intimidate the media from
sharing the news.

Sent from my iPhone – pardon typos
.

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Who asks for the business card (or aims to establish a relationship)
tells you a lot about power dynamics.

It is easily understood that younger up-and-coming entrepreneurs will
try to link up with high-powered CEOs or that salespeople will aim to
connect with buyers.

But another subtle dynamic I keep noticing is that, in general,
Palestinians are far more interested in getting business cards of the
Israelis or international citizens they meet.

At our youth leadership summits between Israelis and Palestinians,
both sides are so surprised, motivated and energized to confirm first-
hand that they have a partner working for the same goal on the other
side. But it is the Palestinians that more frequently ask for the
business card.

This is understandable because for Palestinians, contact with some
Israeli can be a more likely life-line in the current circumstances
where they live.

When our OneVoice Gaza Executive Director was held up with four
computers for more than an hour at a checkpoint, he ended up calling
Adi Balderman who finally succeeded in intervening and helping
establish these were indeed for the organization and that Mowaffaq was
the real deal.

Jews and other minorities that have traditionally been persecuted also
have a greater instinct to establish links with the other,
particularly when the other has greater power or can control their
destiny.

Probably more so for children of Holocaust survivors. Besides the
importance of OneVoice building a network of moderates all over, I
sometimes find myself wondering in a stream of consciousness what
would happen if I was taken hostage when I am in Gaza or if I was
stuck somewhere between rival factions.

Would any of my ‘connections’ be able to help? While most likely they
would not, it is emotionally reassuring that they would try.

Sent from my iPhone – pardon typos
.

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Definition: Actionist

Published under Definitions by DL Aug 31, 2007

Actionist: Someone who refuses to stand by and
instead chooses to take control over his own destiny, particularly as it refers
to matters that are ordinarily seen as beyond the power of individuals. Someone
who believes and knows that he can change the course of history based on the
power of his and his peers’ actions.

Why was the above new definition necessary? Because to the
best of my knowledge, there are a plethora of words to describe sullen fatalism,
but none to described determined activism and conviction as to the power of
individuals to change history.

The two definitions below do exist currently in the dictionary, and can be antonyms to the above:

Determinist: Anyone who submits to the belief thatthey are powerless to change their destiny

Fatalist: Anyone who submits to the belief that they are powerless to change their destiny

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Today at an event at Benny and Channa Levy’s in EinHod, which the Egyptian Ambassador attended, I was asked by one of the guestshow I managed to stay so optimistic. While the question was asked in a sincere way meant as a compliment, I explained that for me this has nothing to do with optimism but with determination.

While as a person I do consider myself to be a positive thinker and an optimist, the truth is that with regards to the Middle East Conflict and all areas of anti-semitism, I live in the shadow of the Holocaust and am more of a determined pessimist than anything else. The fear of extinction, and the conviction not to allow what happened to my Father to
happen ever again, is what drives me.

The false spectrum that many people often assume is between optimism
and pessimism. But in fact the real distinction is between action and
inaction.

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Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

Published under Favorite Quotes Aug 31, 2007

Instead of spending so much time thinking whether the glass
is half full or half empty, let’s just fill up the damn glass.

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  Today we met with Dr. Saeb Erakat in Jericho & he agreed to join the
OneVoice Honorary Board and to help us with the OV Summit.

Erakat is the tough but fair, pragmatic and constructive head
Palestinian negotiator.

IMG_0136 IMG_0137(here he is in center with me on the left and Dr. Fathi Darwish on the right)

Last May at the WEF conference in the Dead Sea, Dr. Erakat stunned the
audience by publicly chastising Iran’s delegation for their negative
interference in Palestinian-Israeli affairs.

Iran’s Minister was waxing poetic about the Palestinian struggle and
the Zionist satan when Erakat called Iran for its hypocrisy and asked
the panelist, "please, don’t help us. You are hurting us with your
calls to annihilate Israel. Please don’t help us. I am telling you
now as a Palestinian. Stay out of our affairs."

Erakat recognizes the importance of public opinion and grassroots
efforts. He also serves on the board of Seeds of Peace. He committed
to speak at the Oct.18 summit.

Sent from my iPhone – pardon typos
.

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Many locals in Gaza are starting to demonstrate. The Hamas forces
have threatened the international and local media not to cover the
uprising. Tomorrow prayers were called by citizens fed up with Hamas
oppression. Media has finally started to ignore censure, emboldening
more. Tomorrow can be an important day in the grassroots struggle
against militant absolutism.

Sent from my iPhone – pardon typos
.

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Palestinian negotiators invoke the fact that the window of opportunity for a two-state solution is closing and will soon be replaced by the call for a “One State Solution” in order to incite fear among Israelis and push them to the negotiating table.  But this negative tactic is unwise, both because a “One State Solution” is akin to a state of war, because Israelis will never accept it, and because it causes bad will among the Israeli public.

Israelis use the path of unilateralism as a means to redress the perception that time is not on Israel’s side and that Palestinians should thus not be in a hurry to negotiate.  By being willing to unilaterally extricate themselves from the Palestinian lands and impose a solution, Israelis hope that Palestinian negotiators recognize they will not be able to use time against Israelis, and that they will get less if they don’t come to the negotiating table with a pragmatic approach.  But this strategy, too, is unrealistic, because there will not be a bilaterally and internationally agreed end to the conflict without an agreement among the parties.

In the end, both parties are barking a lot, but neither of their barks has bite.

The only bite is from militant absolutists and foreign fundamentalists that will use this incessant leaderless back-and-forth bickering to drive a wedge and pray on the situation.

Both sides need to recognize that time is not on the Israelis OR Palestinians’ side.  Time is not on the side of moderates that want to end the conflict. 

 The Clinton Parameters lay out clearly how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be resolved.  The Heads of State of both Israel and Palestine were elected on a platform to end the conflict.  Both Olmert and Abbas want a two-state solution. The Israeli and Palestinian public have clear supra-majorities that support a two state solution (at least still now, though not forever!).  It is time for the politicians to sit, lock the door, and not exit the negotiating table till they work out the details for an agreement premised on the Clinton parameters (which the OneVoice Pillars from the People are based on).

Enough bargainging and posturing!  All of this is helping only Ahmadinejad and his proxies!

That is why on October 18th, 2007 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 within a year from that date.  www.OneMillionVoices.org.  The deadline from the people is October 18, 2008.  The time has come.

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Coaching Yourself to Strength

Published under Life, OneVoice Movement Aug 28, 2007

Then there are the low moments, which invariably will come when you
are taking yourself outside the safety zone, which you must do if you
want to achieve something meaningful.

When things are bad or bad news or disappointments come – you must
derive strength – from friends and family, from a steadfastly united
team, from Board members and supporters – and from internal conviction.

Self-analysis and critical introspection are also invaluable here.
But most essential is to not lose the long-term vision, to keep things
in perspective, to remember why you do what you do – and to remind
yourself where you are coming from.

Today as most days over the last couple months has been an almost
intolerable roller-coaster of many highs and some painful lows, of
news, developments, successes, setbacks, warm and much needed pats on
the back, and cold skeptical dismissals that of course also ‘get to
you.’

It started with success after success on the recruitment, media and
fundraising front. But then I got a phone call from an important Arab
dignitary who had promised to lend a hand and unfortunately backed out.

We will certainly overcome, and the momentum is overall steady and
strong. But high expectations can be the worst enemy of your spirit.

My personality is such that I take successes as a given, and I take
setbacks very seriously. They really bring me down.

At these times it is good to be able to count on friends and
supporters whose loyalty is ironclad. And it is important to remember
there is NO ALTERNATIVE but to prevail. Too much is at stake.

Sent from my iPhone – pardon typos
.

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