Sometimes I stop to reflect on how far we’ve gone to implement one powerful but seemingly implausible idea (building a grassroots movement of moderates determined to push to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict), and yet how far we have yet to go to achieve our mission, and I wonder if I really have what it takes.

OneVoice has grown from a fledgling idea with a few dozen supporters, to a movement with close to 500,000 signatories, 3,100 youth activists, and scores of dignitaries, celebrities and luminaries behind it.

 And yet, when the lights are dimmed, when the logical and methodical mind is resting, when the bravado tires, and when I am alone to wind down, I often get scared as to what I have taken on.  And I doubt myself.  Can I really help pull this off?  Can our team really execute on this bold undertaking?  What if we fail? What if the people don’t show up? What if the luminaries don’t take the bold step to inspire them? What if the people don’t care? What if I make some fatal mistake in planning? What if I disappoint all of our supporters and friends?  What if a war breaks out? What if our team succombs to the internal or external pressures? What if we don’t have what it takes?

Then I breathe again.

And I realize that if we don’t try, we will fail by simply shying away from the responsibility.

I realize that this is not about me or about OneVoice but about the future of our peoples.

I realize that while there are no guarantees we will get to the finishing line, what is guaranteed is that we will not get to the finishing line if we don’t take the first step.

 I realize that the power we are invoking is greater than anything anyone ever has relied on in this region - the power of the people – and that if we are able to channel the frustrations of millions of moderates into constructive energies towards ending the conflict – nothing and nobody will stop us.

I realize that there is no alternative but to succeed, because the future is too stark for humanity if this conflict does not get resolved.

I realize how much inspiration I draw by seeing how people always rise up to their responsibility – how even the most skeptical and cynicial ultimately will do their part.

I realize we WILL ABSOLUTELY get there – even if it will take a lot of work.

I realize there is nothing magical about doing this – other than the magic of determination and sheer depth of belief and conviction.

…I realize I better go to sleep (3:22am!) b/c I need to wake up in 5 hours or risk being late for Gil and Ayelet!

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Ron Mueck is a London-based photo-realist artist. Fiberglass resin or flesh? I just thought this too cool not to share…
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OneVoice Gaza’s Executive Director Mowaffaq Alami moved fast and has reached the Gaza Surfers.  It turns out there is even a fledgling Surfing Federation in Gaza.  We are endeavoring to connect them to “Doc” and David this coming week…

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Bob Tedeschi of the New York Times today wrote in his e-commerce column about the difficult balancing act that manufacturers like PeaceWorks have to make in the online world, when selling to consumers without undermining their retail sales channel.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/13/technology/13ecom.html?_r=1&ref=business&oref=slogin 

 

The basic rule and the basic opportunity in this space are as follows:

* RULE: as a manufacturer, what you shouldn’t do is take undue advantage of your marketing control, and ensure that you do not give undue advantage to your online channel at the detriment of your retailers; the clear example is that if the brick-and-mortar segment is selling your product for X, you shouldn’t just under-cut them with a lower price;

* OPPORTUNITY: online connections provide you an opportunity to make the pie bigger, rather than just divide it; there is a lot of value that can be created through creative programs where you are not just competing on price.

For example, KIND Snacks developed an ADVANTAGE program (http://kindsnacks.com/frequent-kind.html) for consumers where we will not give them a lower price than at the stores – the price will be the same – but besides the comfort of automated home delivery, we also reward them through a real partnership that benefits both of us: we send them free samples of new products we are developing, and we ask them to give us feedback on them; we send them free promotional materials like t-shirts, and they wear them and help us promote KIND.  We are also working to build a real NETWORK for the KIND COMMUNITY – so that the motto “Be KIND to your body, your tastebuds, and to the world” is true in all senses.

Be KIND to your body stands for eating healthy wholesome foods.

Be KIND to your tastebuds stands for eating TASTY food – you don’t have to sacrifice one for the other, as we have shown with KIND Fruit + Nut bars.

Be KIND to the world today means that by buying KIND bars, you are supporting our work with the award-winning cutting edge PeaceWorks Foundation, which launched and guides the OneVoice Movement and the Who Am I Film Project.  But we also want it to mean that being KIND TO THE WORLD should connect to the way we all live our lives, and we want the KIND COMMUNITY to embody this motto in their daily lives, so we are working with our family of consumers to develop fun but meaningful ways to establish a new model along these lines…

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I set out to help Doc and David find Mohammed and Ahmed, who Doc and David want to help get free surfing equipment and “just surf” as a way to establish a “Surfing for Peace” initiative. 

I called Dr. Fathi Darwish, our older statesman General Director of OneVoice Palestine, based out of Ramallah. 

“Doctor,” I said, “do you know what is surfing?”

“Uh?”

“Surfing.  The sport where people get on big boards and glide on the sea, propelled by the waves.”

“Uh?”

“Do you know Baywatch?”

“Uh?”

“You know Hawaii?  With the guys with the nice tans and long hair, who ride the waves?”

“Well, Daniel, to be honest, I don’t know what you are talking about.”

:-)

Who am I to wonder? I didn’t know who “Kelly Slater” is – or Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz for that matter.

But there is certainly something very powerful in the philosophy that surfers bring to our world. “Just have fun, surf, focus on your connection with the moment, and leave everything else behind.”

During our meeting, I also remembered that we have been explaining that the OneVoice Summit is designed to be a massive mobilization of moderates that creates an unprecedented shared reality – the first time that Israelis and Palestinians will participate in a historic moment with the same perspective and understanding.  Unlike the 1948 “Independence” for Israelis or “Naqba”  (catastrophe) for Palestinians, or unlike the Lebanon war where Israelis thought Nasrallah a vicious criminal and Palestinians by and large considered him a valiant hero, here we have an opportunity to create a special moment in the region’s consciousness, where Israelis and Palestinians in parallel stand up and say, Enough, we are going to end this conflict once and for all.

 And as in surfing, the goal is that the WAVE OF MODERATION will be so massive, that it will potentially drown out violent extremism and help attract the mainstream majority to ride the positive wave.

It is a narly undertaking, yes.  But a ride we cannot afford not to take – or prevail on. 

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Surfing in Gaza

Published under Funnies, Middle East, OneVoice Movement Aug 12, 2007

Earlier today I had one of the most fun, bizarre and fascinating meetings in a while – and I’ve been having a lot of these lately!

SAKAL, one of the largest retailers in Israel, heard about our OneVoice Summit: One Million Voices to End the Conflict to happen on October 18th, and the CEO got in touch because they had had a similar vision and we are exploring cooperation.  Impressive guy and operation. 

 But the funnest part is that with him were two colorful characters.  The first turned out to be the famous Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz, an 86-year old surfer, one of the fathers of surfing – who has been surfing for 74 years.  The man embodies goodness and healthy living – hasn’t eaten sugar in 50 years.  He founded the famous “Paskowitz Surfing Camp” that has trained some of the best surfers.

His son, David Paskowitz, is a producer and performer – and showed us a very cool song he had created and sang – ominously titled, yes, OneVoice!

Besides partnering with Sakal and OV on the OneVoice Summit to mobilize moderates against extremism, David and Doc, who introduced surfing to Israel, are now determined to do the same in Palestine.

You may think this is  crazy – but then check out this story by Louise Roug of the Los Angeles Times: Gaza Surfers Find Freedom In The Sea:

http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/la-fg-gazasurf29jul29,0,5906618.story?track=mostviewed-sectionfront

 Here is a glimpse of the article, describing Mohammed Jayab, “the top dog on the beach” who “developed his tricks and technique by imitating surfers on TV. …Like the other Gaza surfers, he watches reruns of ‘Baywatch’ episodes. But he doesn’t ogle the bikini-clad lifeguards on the show, he said.  ‘I close my eyes and watch through my fingers.’”

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Hamas is at it again, spending small but strategically significant funds on social services designed to engender appreciation from the poor populations where it seeks to establish trust and loyalty.  Most recently it sponsored a mass wedding for 60 Palestinian couples in a refugee camp in Syria.  The total cost was relatively modest, including $1,500 for each couple, but it paid off handsomely in the hearts of the people.

See: http://www.kuwaittimes.net/read_news.php?newsid=MjA5NDgxNjIy 

 Moderate movements need to provide social networks and visible and tangible support to provide an alternative in the destitute communities where apocalyptic visions otherwise reign unchallenged.

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A business entity that explicitly and practically sets out to not just make money but also achieve some positive societal impact.

Archane tax systems have forced upon our minds and our legal structures the assumption that an entity has to either have profit-making as a goal OR be dedicated to benefiting society.   While there are many cases where positive social impact cannot be engineered or organized in a self-sustaining market-driven business model and requires a purely non-profit structure, this is not necessarily the case.  There are many positive ways to impact both the bottom line and the world at large.  Indeed, it is sometimes optimal to be able to help advance societal goals in a sustainable way that relies on market mechanisms to advance social goals also.

PeaceWorks is the first example I dabbled in to try to prove this concept.

There are many other companies (preceding and succeeding PeaceWorks) that are similarly structured.

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This is a far more apt name than ‘Islamic’ or ‘Muslim’ or ‘Islamist’ or ’Islamic Fundamentalist’ Terrorists.  All these other terms give a mantle of legitimacy to those that do not deserve it and that have been rejected by mainstream Muslim authorities (even if many of us don’t know about it b/c these condemnations are not frequently enough broadcast by the media and less-forceful than they should be).

 Militants that kill innocent civilians in the name of religion should not be allowed to cower thereunder.  Instead, they should be exposed as the false messiahs that they actually are.

 By calling them “Pseudo-Islamic” Terrorists, we acknowledge the link they proclaim, but we explicitly deny the validity of that link, rob them from any legitimacy, and actually highlight their falsity and harm.

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Resorting to violence to attain an absolutist vision which denies the
humanity of the other. See also Militant Absolutism.

We use this term at OneVoice to define in neutral non-partisan terms
that which the overwhelming majority of people (mainstream moderates)
need to counter to seize back the agenda for peace.
.

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