Here are the type of people I really like and admire: doers with a heart and a purpose, without inflated egos, with a can-do attitude and the resourcefulness and creativity to get things done and not allow anyone to stop them.  Imagine all of this and you get Laura Ziskin.

Laura produced the 3 Spider-man movies (with Avi Arad), as well as last year’s Oscars, among other things.

But as of yesterday she is now to be best known as a new member of the OneVoice Movement’s Trustee Advisory Board.

Adee and I were impressed at her level of commitment and resourcefulness yesterday.  My favorite part was when she brainstormed that Larry King should cover the OneVoice Summit, and she just picked up the phone and cold-called to pitch the story to the producer, who she did not know.  She did not even mention who she was or throw her weight around.  And when the producer somewhat roughly indicated he was on deadline and didn’t have time, she matter-of-factly took a pen and agreed to just drop him an email.  Please understand she is a very powerful producer, but she is successful because she is Laura, the doer, and instead of wearing her accomplishments on her sleeves, she just continues to get things done.

She continued to brainstorm on several other BIG ways in which she was committing to help advance our efforts for October 18th.

And by that night she had cranked out six poignant emails following up on everything she promised – and more!

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Adee Telem and I stopped by Danny DeVito’s home earlier today.  The only sad thing about that visit is that Rhea Perlman, his better half, is in London performing in Boeing-Boeing (to rave reviews) so we missed her.  But separate from that, Danny is always adorably amusing, funny and down-to-earth, so it is always fun to catch up with him.

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I met Danny and Rhea through my dear friend and Board member Joel Fields, who himself learned about OneVoice (back in 2001 or so called the PeaceWorks Network) when Mohammad Darawshe and I spoke at the home of Susan Baradaran – who I met through Sepi Djavaheri – who I met through Gabriela Velasquez, who learned about this idea from a flash presentation that Rohan Nirody, back then a 19-year old college intern at my company PeaceWorks helped me create.  This is a reminder of the Power of One – starting with 19-year old Rohan, every one of the above people was a critical catalyst to help us spread the word about the movement and eventually reach major influencers, and the same string of relationships has repeated and repeated with dignitaries, techies, luminaries, religious leaders and ordinary citizens to reach what is now OV…

Danny and Rhea have been extraordinary friends to OneVoice from the inception, through the thick and thin, and helped us found the Entertainment Council that now includes supporters like Jason Alexander, Natalie Portman, Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, and Annie Cusack, among many others who take the time and courage to advance a mission they recognize is so important even if it seems far away from home.

Danny agreed to record a PSA for the October 18th mobilization.

And he is working on some other stuff that, if it pans out, will be quite big…stay tuned.

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Adee and I met with Elliott Gould at Peet’s Tea on South Beverly Drive.  Benny Levy, the sculptor and artist, introduced us to him.  Elliott is quite a fun and interesting guy, and he was clearly in sync with the OneVoice message.  He agreed to record a PSA for the OneVoice Summit.

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I have to confess I am a very big fan of his since, as a little kid in Mexico, I recall enjoying the movie Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice.  Can’t believe I remember that.  Must have been a little nerd.

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Just heard from Meg Garlinghouse that Yahoo has given the green light to assertively promote and webcast the 5 locations of the OneVoice Summit on October 18th.

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As we gear up towards October 18th, our increased efforts on the ground have yielded an early surprise.  Our goal of recruiting half a million Israeli and Palestinian citizens by the end of 2007 was met close to 4 months early.

Now we have over quarter million Israelis and over quarter million Palestinians that have subscribed to the Movement’s principles.

Most remarkable, a quarter million were reached in the last year, compared to the first quarter million that took us close to 5 years to recruit.

We now need to reach One Million Voices To End the Conflict.

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It’s only 10:32 am in Los Angeles and the day has already been a big roller-coaster of developments and emotions (can I turn the latter off?).

We started at 5:30am because our wonderful Adee Telem (who heads West Coast Outreach for OneVoice) decided we needed to be on an 8am flight from San Fran to LA.  People who know me know how much I love waking up early.

[Last night we came back from a great dinner with Sissy and Ted Geballe - the most lovely down-to-earth couple - they have been married for 65 years - and the type of friends that are there for you no matter what; I logged in my computer to catch up with email; I was trying mightily to answer all emails but had to sign off at 1am; I don't hold it against Adee that she made me sleep so little b/c she was still at it when I went to sleep: I was getting cc'd on a stream of emails from her to follow up with all those we met that day, from Yahoo to Google, TPG, The East Bay Jewish Federation and other donors/supporters].

As if little sleep was not enough to make you grumpy, I learned from Gil that one of the top Israeli singers that had committed to join us on Oct 18 had backed out, apparently because of financial demands we could not meet (all international performers who are helping us are doing so on a pro-bono basis, though we do have modest budgets to cover transportation and expenses and a small allowance for local talent).  This was a serious blow.

Then I got frantic upset calls from OneVoice Israel and OneVoice Palestine needing funds to pay deposits for some of the preparations of Oct 18 – they are right, I had to approve and send these a week ago and had not gotten to it.  Fortunately Shelley Shick is back from vacation to manage the financial flows of what is becoming a complex task (we started the movement with $100 donations from a handful of people and an all-volunteer cadre; now with 5 offices across three continents and 60 staff and consultants helping us gear for October 18 and to reach out to our new goal of one million signatories, Shelley now focuses strictly on managing all budgets, audits, inflows and outflows).  The financial stress is not insignificant.

But then the roller coaster started climbing up (or should it be rolling down, which is the fun part?).  Adee and I were walking in the LA Airport and saw Ted Danson.  I think Adee was a bit embarassed, but I introduced myself and explained what OneVoice was doing with One Million Voices To End the Conflict, and mentioned Rhea Perlman and Danny DeVito are on the Board, along with Brad Pitt, Natalie Portman… and the Chief Palestinian Islamic Justice…  He recalled having heard about OneVoice, was very positive (and amused at learning I am a confused Mexican Jew in the middle of all this), and agreed to get involved.

Then David Levin called.  A major former head of State [edited out till public disclosure] has agreed to meet with our Israeli and Palestinian Youth Leaders in Jerusalem mid-October, a few days before our October 18th event.  This is a huge opportunity to highlight the human infrastructure of young moderates determined to seize back their lives.  So while it comes only days before the big event, we will make it work.

Fortunately David’s call came last.  Now I am energized again.  Would I have been able to feel this way if Gil’s news had come last? I don’t know.  All I know is that the last few months I feel like I am having far bigger emotional reactions to all developments, perhaps because so much is riding on it.  Do hormones act up at these times? Am I experiencing PMMMS – Pre-Massive-Mobilization-of-Moderates-Syndrome?  There is a new "definition" I am sure Darya will love.

Adee is driving while I wrote this blog post – we are on our way to meet Guy Oseary, an exceptionally successful young music and film production manager (to Madonna, Lenny Kravitz, etc) who is interested in exploring a way to popularize joint economic ventures to promote peace through business (akin to what I have been doing with PeaceWorks since 93).  Natalie Portman introduced us earlier in the summer in relation to the OneVoice Summit,  but Guy seems more interested in the economic development side.  Let’s hope he can also help us for next month!

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"The world will not be destroyed by those who do the evil but by those who see it but do nothing about it…"

-Albert Einstein

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One of the greatest strengths of the OneVoice Movement is that it is made up of mainstream nationalists from each side. 

The Chief Palestinian Islamic Justice, Sheikh Taysir al Tamimi, a fervent Palestinian patriot, is the equivalent in Palestine to what in Israel would be a merger between the Chief Rabbi AND the Head of the Israeli Supreme Court.  He has been on our Board for several years now, serving on the same international board as Jewish and Israeli religious heavyweights such as Dr. Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, Chief Rabbi David Rosen, President of the IJRCC, and Rabbi Nissim Dahan from Shas.

When a militant extremist tries to undermine the credibility or legitimacy of the OneVoice Movement, staunch nationalists and religious authorities on our Board lend important backing to our efforts.

That is why it is particularly significant that Sheikh Tamimi has agreed to provide a blessing at the OneVoice Summit in Jericho on October 18th.

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Earlier in the week he met Dr. Fathi Darwish with other Palestinian supporters of the OneVoice Movement, including Dr. Mahmoud Labadi, former Director General of the Palestinian Legislative Council, who also serves on the international Board, and local Advisory members Mr. Hatem Abbas, and Dr. Rateb Kisrawi,

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Our intern Brian Lutter created this phenomenal ad for KIND Bars:

evolution

 

Here are some more things he created.

What do you think?

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Tamar Hermann produces a very valuable "Peace Index" that tracks vital signs in the mood of Israelis and Palestinians with regards to attitudes about ending the conflict, and moods and opinions regarding Israeli-Arab peace making.  Here, for example, is their Peace Index for July 2007.

But short of their professional work, I have four empirical indices that gage the mood of the people and the beat of the region surprisingly well.

The first is the Aboulafia Index.  Aboulafia is an Arab bakery in the entrance of Jaffo that used to be extraordinarily popular among Israelis in the early 90s.  You had to stand in line for several minutes to get one of their warm pieces of bread right out of their wood oven.  If you visited it in 2001 or 2002, it was stark: there was not one Israeli Jew to be found there, or for that matter almost anyone else.  Jews just did not visit Arab establishments in Jaffo those days. 

Today, Aboulafia is not what it used to be but it is certainly back to having a steady clientele, and Jaffo itself is becoming a very popular neighborhood, almost too popular as far as some Arab locals are concerned, who feel they will be pushed out by higher real estate pressures, akin to the pressures Hispanics are feeling in Spanish Harlem in Manhattan, and blacks are feeling in West Harlem.  But overall, at least as far as Jewish-Arab relations are concerned in Jaffo, things are significantly better than they used to be in 2002.  There is still a long way to go and there was a tough low after the divisive Lebanon war last summer, but some slow healing is taking place.

Then there is the Kalandia (or Qalandya) Checkpoint.  At times desolate and phantom-like, it is now bustling like never before.  The parking lot of Kalandya is my Kalandya-Meter to the state of business affairs in Ramallah.  Judging from my last few visits, the West Bank is witnessing a lot of activity and movement.  You couldn’t even find a spot, whereas in the lot was practically empty.  Here are a couple bad shots of the Kalandia parking lot:

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By contrast, Erez Checkpoint is quiet, quiet, underlying the paucity of activity and transit between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

The Ben Gurion Airport’s level of activity, and hotel occupancy rates, are of course very good measurements of the perception of travelers about the safety of coming to Israel, though they have to be adjusted for seasonality.  Overall 2007 is marking steady increases in visits and travel.

Israeli Restaurant Activity is another important Index to sense the mood and safety comfort of Israelis. 

In Jerusalem, things are relatively quiet, better than in the early 2000s, but nothing like in Tel Aviv.

Nowadays, if you don’t have a reservation at a restaurant in Tel Aviv, you may not get a table.  Israelis are determined to live their lives.

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