Two articles recently posted on PeaceWorks and OneVoice and our efforts…

JEWCY.COM: Peace Through Pesto: Daniel Lubetzky Schools Us on Building Bridges and Empowering Moderates,  by Helen Jupiter, July 11, 2008


JERUSALEM POST, Don Quixote comes to Israel, Jul 24, 2008, by Heather Robinson


The Jerusalem Post

Don Quixote comes to Israel

Jul. 24, 2008

It is fitting Daniel Lubetzky would grow up to be an entrepreneur who tries to bring peace to the Middle East. He recalls how, one summer when he was 12 and working for a textile wholesaler in Mexico City, he overheard people on the bus bashing Israel.

“They were talking about Sabra and Shatilla,” he recalls. “They were saying horrible things about Israelis and Jews.”

Upset, the boy reported what he had heard to his father, Roman Lubetzky, a Holocaust survivor who talked with him about Israel’s right to exist, its existential struggle. With his father’s help, he wrote a letter to Mexico City’s Excelsior newspaper decrying the double standard of condemning Israel without condemning the perpetrators of the massacres.

At 39, Lubetzky’s youthful passions-for Israel, for raising consciousness, and for business – remain intact.

But he’s come a long way from, as he puts it, “carrying shmattes” in Mexico City. These days, he peddles his food products, including Israeli-made sauces and spreads and Australian-manufactured nutrition bars, to a global market, with a presence in countries ranging from the US to Japan to Dubai.

PeaceWorks, his food company, is founded on the principle of simultaneously making profits and peace by bringing together, in business, people from opposing sides of various world conflicts. He also runs the PeaceWorks Foundation, whose main project is OneVoice, an organization Lubetzky founded to “amplify the voices of moderates” in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. As the labels on his products state, 5 percent of all profits go to OneVoice.

Tall and broad-shouldered, with a full, expressive mouth, Lubetzky has the offbeat handsomeness of a character actor. Depending on the light, his large eyes look blue, green or brown. Married this year, he maintains homes in Tel Aviv, New York and San Antonio, Texas, the three cities where PeaceWorks has offices. OneVoice has offices in New York, London, Tel Aviv, Gaza City and Ramallah.

On a recent afternoon, speaking in his slightly Mexican-accented English, he articulated PeaceWorks’ unique philosophy.

“We call it a ‘not-only-for profit company,” he says, “meaning, we won’t do something if it is not profitable, but we hope to also make the world a better place.”

PeaceWorks has three ventures: Meditalia, based in Israel and operated by an Israeli Jew, which buys ingredients mainly from Arabs in Israel, in neighboring countries and in the West Bank; Bali Spice, all-women-run cooperatives in Indonesia and Sri Lanka that produce coconut milk and sauces; and KIND Fruit & Nut bars, which according to SPINS Market Data (a market research and consulting firm for the natural products industry) have reached the top three spot in the US market in the health snack and energy bar category.

KIND Fruit & Nut are currently sold in over 20,000 stores, including US-based chains Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. They are also sold in countries including Saudi Arabia, Dubai, the United Kingdom, Japan and soon Israel (“We’re in the process of certifying the factory kosher,” says Lubetzky).

With their whole chunks of dried fruit and intact nuts bound by a light touch of honey or yogurt, the bars contain no preservatives or additives.

“They’re the Rolls Royce of bars,” says Lubetzky. “Made with ingredients you can actually see that have names you can pronounce.”

Lubetzky does not own the factories where any of PeaceWorks products are produced. His company owns the brands and handles marketing and distribution.

THE MAIN office of PeaceWorks and OneVoice, located in the Chelsea neighborhood in Manhattan, is loft like and minimalist. The 30 employees, 20 who work for the business and 10 who work for OneVoice, sit in partially open cubicles.

Painted on the white walls in blue letters are quotations from luminaries like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Mahatma Gandhi. One quotation stands out: “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them” – Henry David Thoreau.

Lubetzky’s office, separated by a glass door and large window, is fully visible from the large room. On a recent afternoon, he sits with Darya Shaikh, executive director of OneVoice, and Erin Pineda, director of communications.

The three are planning a conference in Israel and the Palestinian territories of OneVoice, on which Lubetzky says he spends more time than on his business. While PeaceWorks employs “between 15 and 20″ full-time, OneVoice employs 30, he says.

“When are we going to meet with [Foreign Minister] Tzipi Livni?” asks Lubetzky.

“It’s impossible,” says Shaikh.

“How can you say it’s impossible, send a letter quickly, we’re six weeks away. And we want to push for meetings with [Palestinian Authority] President [Mahmoud] Abbas, [negotiator] Saeb Erekat and [Prime Minister] Salaam Fayad. Please remind Fayad I met him in Davos.”

Since he established it in 2000, Lubetzky’s OneVoice has recruited almost 650,000 people – about equal numbers of Israelis and Palestinians – to sign a “OneVoice mandate.” It’s a short declaration of principles demanding that elected officials work to achieve such ideals as “the rights of both peoples to independence, sovereignty… dignity, respect, national security, personal safety and economic viability.” It also demands that leaders negotiate a two-state solution within a year. In some cases, Palestinians received a preamble discussing an end to occupation, and Israelis got a preamble addressing the need for security.

While the organization continues to boost its numbers, it no longer uses the mandate. “There will be something done [with it] in terms of connecting the grassroots to the top level” in government on both sides, according to Pineda.

The organization has also graduated 1,280 Israeli and Palestinian “youth leaders,” mostly teenagers, who go through training to speak in the territories, in Israel and abroad about the importance of cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians, especially in business. A popular topic is that Israelis and Arabs should oppose divestment campaigns.

Lubetzky flips open his laptop to share a video that appears on the OneVoice Web site of young people circulating leaflets in cities from Tel Aviv to Tulkarm.

“The vast majority of Palestinians and Israelis want to achieve resolution of the conflict, not for the sake of the other side but for their own sake,” he says.

He clicks onto a picture of Palestinians sitting in rows in a sparsely furnished room in the Jabalya refugee camp. It’s a OneVoice meeting at which Palestinians are discussing a two-state solution, he says.

He speaks animatedly about an essay contest that took place in both Israel and the Palestinian territories this spring. OneVoice workers, youth leaders and other volunteers distributed forms to teachers, asking children 13-17 to “share with us a vision of what 2018 will look like if there is an agreement for peace this year.”

The Palestinian finalists were hosted at a summit of the World Economic Forum in Sharm e-Sheikh in May. The Israeli winners were chosen in June.

In the coming year, based on their essays, 10 kids will be selected – five Palestinian, five Israeli – to work with eminent filmmakers producing short films of their visions of peace.

Lubetzky has already recruited Danny DeVito and Davis Guggenheim, who directed Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, to work with the children.

“We want a new generation to say, ‘Don’t deny us our future, we want this thing to end,’” he says.

On the wall hangs a photograph of Lubetzky with his father, who died in 2003. The elder Lubetzky is seated and the younger leans over his shoulder. Their faces are side by side, bathed in rose light. Hanging nearby is a photograph of a young Israeli soldier holding the hand of an elderly Arab man as the two make their way through a crowded refugee camp.

“I fear that if we don’t succeed the bad guys could succeed and what happened to my dad could happen again,” Lubetzky says. “I won’t allow that to happen without putting in the fight of my life.”

LUBETZKY’S FIRST venture was Meditalia. After graduating from Stanford Law School, he went to Israel on a fellowship to research the potential for Israeli-Arab cooperation.

One night, he bought a jar of sun-dried tomato spread. Finding it delicious, he returned the next evening to buy more, but the store was sold out. He sought out the manufacturer, only to discover the company was going bankrupt.

Yoel Benesh, the owner, was importing glass jars from Portugal and dried basil from Italy, and couldn’t net enough to cover his costs. Lubetzky demonstrated that importing glass from Egypt, and basil from a West Bank town called Uja, would reduce costs.

“I said, ‘Let me introduce you to your neighbors,’” Lubetzky recalls.

Today Benesh manufactures Meditalia products for Lubetzky. Benesh buys olives from Egypt, sun-dried tomatoes from Turkey and olive oil from the Jahshan Family Farm, owned by a Christian Arab family in Galilee. He also buys produce from Palestinians in the West Bank, but can no longer employ Palestinian workers because of frequent border closings.

While he says he simply buys products where he gets the best price, Benesh believes in the PeaceWorks creed: “Once you do business with people, you trust them, they trust you, slowly, slowly – if ever – that will bring peace,” he says.

Hani Jahshan, one of Benesh’s suppliers, an Israeli Arab whose family is among the oldest manufacturers of olive oil in Israel, agrees. “In business, we have already achieved peace,” he says.

IT’S THE FIRST day of the OneVoice conference in Israel, and Lubetzky, staff and several board members are visiting Ramallah for a lunch with OneVoice’s Palestinian advisers.

Inside a white building, a cool entryway leads into a large room with a banquet table bearing humous, tabouli, pickled vegetables. Uniformed waiters are pouring drinks.

Lubetzky and several men greet each other with kisses on both cheeks. They include Qadora Farris, described in the bio Lubetzky’s staff circulates as “a close friend, aide and adviser to senior Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti,” Muhammad Naja, country representative of the Education for Employment Foundation, a nonprofit that helps Palestinian graduates obtain employment, and Dr. Samir Huleileh, executive president of the Palestine Development and Investment Company. Several OneVoice youth leaders in their teens and 20s are along.

Lubetzky shares the head of the table with Huleileh. Most of the formal remarks concern ways to bring business into the territories, which Lubetzky and the other participants refer to as Palestine.

“People ask me, ‘Can you invest in Palestine at this time?’” Huleileh says. “I tell them the media is just concentrating on the negative side, not the peaceful side of Palestine.”

Naja speaks of the importance of finding jobs for unemployed Palestinian college graduates. “Giving people hope is a very big task,” he says. “We have to start on the youth, on both sides of the line.”

Lubetzky then speaks about the essay contest, and about a beautiful presentation given by Christina Samir Odeh Yosef, a 15-year-old contest winner.

“We don’t have a lot of other things we feel proud of, as a people,” says Huleileh. “We must support our Palestinian athletes, musicians, actors, poets. It’s not just a matter of money but of focus. We must support the Christinas of Palestine.”

In October, Lubetzky canceled two highly anticipated concerts. The concert on the Palestinian side would have been the largest recreational event ever to have taken place in the territories. The singer Bryan Adams was to have performed, along with Israeli and Palestinian artists, first in Tel Aviv, then in Jericho. It would have been the culmination of OneVoice’s drive to gather a million signatures to end the conflict. Tens of thousands were expected on each side.

Prior to the event, the Palestinian staff started receiving bomb threats. Around the same time, Abbas’s office withdrew its support and sent out a statement distancing itself from the event. Lubetzky ultimately decided to cancel because of security concerns.

When the joint event did not take place, Lubetzky was crushed, according to Joshua Faudem, an independent filmmaker whom he had hired to serve as cameraman, documenting the week leading up to the event.

“The saddest thing was the last day we filmed,” recalls Faudem. “We went to where the concert was supposed to be, and there was nothing there.”

But Lubetzky refused to give up on his mission of ending the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

“He’s like Don Quixote,” says Faudem. “Don Quixote refused to give up, he had a lot of stubbornness.

“The thing about Danny is, he could be a little, as we say in Yiddish, meshuga – crazy – but he’s sincere.”

“He’s a great young man,” says former Labor MK Ephraim Sneh, of Lubetzky. “What he’s doing is building grassroots support for a two state solution. All the polls prove that two-thirds on both sides want this two-state solution.

“And by the way, the world is moving forward because of naïve people and not because of the cynics.”

“OneVoice encourages moderates on both sides,” says MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima). “It can help by changing the atmosphere, and the influence of the atmosphere is very important when dealing with the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.”

BUT AT TIMES, an unasked question hovers like an unwelcome guest at the perimeter of all the hubbub around Lubetzky: Could it be that his prodigious energy, warmth and charm bring out the best in everyone for the moment, but only mask the underlying divide? In other words, do projects like the essay contest, the mandate and the concert-that-might-have-been mean Israelis and Palestinians are really speaking in one voice, or that in reality, they are articulating separate dreams?

Hasson chooses his words carefully: “Talking about the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, there is a problem… about meanings of peace.”

Lubetzky, it seems, is not blind to this problem.

The following day, at the OneVoice board meeting, he and his staff debate whether the essay project, moving forward, should require Palestinian and Israeli children to acknowledge one another.

“We want… to make sure people recognize what peace means. It’s not an amorphous concept. It requires recognition of the other,” he says. “We were born for taking risks. I would rather let the organization die trying than die by not trying.”

Nisreen Shahin, director-general of OneVoice Palestine, argues it is best not to speak directly of accepting Israel so that OneVoice can continue operating in Palestinian schools.

“This is what the ministry actually approved to say, ‘Imagine, if a full and comprehensive peace will be achieved this year that would guarantee ending the occupation and establishing an independent Palestinian state, how would we imagine Palestine… in independence and peace?’”

Lubetzky points out that one of the essay contest winners was, before receiving her award, painting pictures of Greater Palestine that didn’t show any Israel.

“To imagine that Israelis and Palestinians achieve a peace solution, that’s not very complex language to use but that’s better language than just saying [something] amorphously… and denying the existence of the other side,” he says.

Toward the end of the meeting, Lubetzky gently chides several OneVoice staffers who he says he knows agree with him but who haven’t spoken up.

Afterward he says, “I think the conclusion of the meeting was we need to be more specific in teaching children that there must be two states for two peoples and they need to come to terms with the reality of the other.”

Lubetzky spends the final evening of the conference on a patio in the back of Jerusalem’s Ambassador Hotel, with OneVoice youth leaders. They are engaged in a spirited debate concerning fund-raising on campuses where OneVoice operates.

“It’s a two-way street,” Lubetzky cries. “We need more student participation.”

“Daniel, quit shouting,” scolds a girl with curly dark hair.

“I’m not shouting,” says Lubetzky. “This is Israel!”

The meeting ends. As Lubetzky turns to leave, a plump, bespectacled girl in a blue hijab tentatively approaches. “Mr. Lubetzky,” she says, blushing. “I am so grateful for the opportunity.”

Lubetzky nods and smiles.

It is a lovely moment, and a human one.



Peace Through Pesto: Daniel Lubetzky Schools Us on Building Bridges and Empowering Moderates

by Helen Jupiter, July 11, 2008



Daniel Lubetzky: with an assortment of his nutritionally and spiritually fortifying productsDaniel Lubetzky: with an assortment of his nutritionally and spiritually fortifying products If you don’t know who Daniel Lubetzky is, you should. The founder of PeaceWorks, a hugely successful international company that promotes peace through business, and OneVoice, a movement of Israelis and Palestinians joining forces to achieve a grassroots, tangible means towards working together for peace in the region, Lubetzky is a proven master at turning theory into action. PeaceWorks offers a range of popular specialty food products and currently does business with Israelis, Palestinians, Egyptians, Turks, Indonesians, Sri Lankans and Australians. Meanwhile, over 640,000 citizens have signed on as supporters of the OneVoice Mandate.

In this interview, Adam Neiman of No Sweat submitted eight questions to Lubetzky, Helen Jupiter submitted four, and Joey Kurtzman tacked one on at the end.

ADAM NEIMAN: Your father was a holocaust survivor. How has this informed your engagement with the Palestinian/Israeli conflict and the occupation?
DANIEL LUBETZKY: I think everything I do is through the prism of the son of a Holocaust survivor, for both good and bad; the positive way to explain it is that I made myself a promise to do whatever is in my power not to allow what happened to my father to ever happen again to anyone else; the more neurotic explanation is that I live under a shadow of persecution and feel an enormous drive to build bridges and create better bonds on a personal basis as well as between cultures, religions, nations, and peoples.
Specifically as it regards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I first approached this as a progressive Zionist who felt very strongly that Israel has to be the homeland for the Jewish people, a haven for those escaping the type of persecution that my Dad was not able to avoid when he was taken to Dachau as a little kid; as I began working deeply on the issue, I also felt a strong affinity with Palestinians who were deprived of freedom and dignity in ways that did painfully remind me of stories my Dad would share about his experiences at the Kovno Ghetto (NOT AT ALL like the dehumanization and death faced in a concentration camp, but with restrictions of movement and denigrations that serve nobody but extremists who prey on despair).

Israelis and Palestinians are destined to share a future – each needs the other to achieve the full potential of freedom and security for their offspring; they can either get their act together and make the difficult but necessary historic compromises to achieve a comprehensive peace, or they can be deluded by absolutist visions that will eventually drag them to a truly intractable and eternal war.
AN: I read that you wrote your master’s thesis on economic cooperation between Israelis & Palestinians. This issue seems to have called you for many years. What’s the Daniel Lubetzky genesis story that brings you to this intensely charged place and time in Jewish history?
DL: It was a Senior College thesis, not a masters, but it was 268-pages, the first time I was intellectually stimulated to become a real nerd, in 1989-90; the son-of-a-holocaust-survivor experience and education certainly got me committed to forging peace between Israel and its neighbors; the concept of economic cooperation as a means for fostering peaceful relations came from combining my passions for the Middle East peace and for entrepreneurship; since childhood I had run a few businesses, from being “Houdani” (instead of Houdini) the Magician during middle school, to setting up “Da’Leky Times” and “Watch-U-Want” kiosks at shopping malls selling watches and clocks while in high school and college; when I went to Israel for my year abroad and was studying at Hebrew University and searching for a thesis topic, the idea hit me that market forces could be powerfully channeled to advance peaceful relations.

Good Theory: good practiceGood Theory: good practiceAN: You started with a for-profit venture, PeaceWorks, marketing food products created by Israeli and Palestinian partners back in the 1990s during Oslo. Now your focus seems to be largely political, with OneVoice calling for negotiations leading to a two-state solution. How did that evolution come about?
DL: PeaceWorks was my effort to turn theory into practice. It evolved from my college thesis, and subsequent work in law school on how to create incentives to encourage joint ventures among neighbors striving to co-exist. When I realized the theory was making people fall asleep and going nowhere, I decided to give it a shot. Around the time that I was finalizing my research, I came across this obscure little jar of sundried tomato spread that was delicious, and when I found out the Israeli company that made it had gone out of business because they were sourcing their glass jars from Portugal and their sundried tomatoes for Italy, I realized there could be a way to prove the theory by sourcing glass jars from Egypt, sundried tomatoes from Turkey, and olives and olive oil from Palestine, etc. That is how MEDITALIA and Moshe & Ali’s started – and it is still goes on 15 years later, with relations that have withstood the test of time and the vicissitudes of the conflict.

The PeaceWorks Family: of productsThe PeaceWorks Family: of products Eventually my company PeaceWorks, expanded to include a venture in partnership with a women’s cooperative in Indonesia – Bali Spice – bringing Muslim, Christian, and Buddhist women together to make a line of Asian sauces. We also created a new division to market healthy snacks not made in conflict regions, but donating 5% of their profits to the PeaceWorks Foundation, which is how KIND Fruit and Nut Bars were born.

The evolution into creating the PeaceWorks Foundation’s OneVoice Movement came about as I realized that economic cooperation is a positive but not sufficient ingredient in the equation for ending the conflict. After the breakdown of the Camp David negotiations and the breakout of the second intifadah and the cycle of violence in 2000-2002, I was enormously depressed and initially did not understand where all my Palestinian business partners and all those Palestinian moderates I knew had gone. Why weren’t they raising their voices? They were shocked when I confronted them with this question, and showed me that from what they saw in the Arab media, it appeared that the missing moderate voices were those of the Israelis.

We then realized the huge problem society faces: that it is in the nature of the overwhelming majority of moderates to be passive, and uninteresting, while a passionate minority of extremists – including violent extremists with absolutist visions that deny the humanity of the other side – will stop at nothing to spread their message. We also realized that traditional media magnifies the influence of this extremist minority because it’s what makes for “compelling” TV and news coverage.
So we recognized that we needed to build a human infrastructure of moderates across Israel and Palestine, and to create tools that would amplify the voice of moderates to help them seize back the agenda for conflict resolution.

Today OneVoice has offices in Ramallah, Gaza City, and Tel Aviv; it has chapters in pretty much every Palestinian and Israeli University, as well as across most refugee camps, villages, and cities; over 640,000 citizens have signed on to the OneVoice Principles or OneVoice Mandate, and over 3,000 Israeli and Palestinian youth leaders have participated in OneVoice programs to organize themselves and their communities at the grassroots level to propel their elected representatives towards a two-state solution.
AN: What are your thoughts about the recent economic initiatives and the Palestinian Investors Conference?
DL: The day the investor conference took place coincided with our 6th Annual Board Meeting in Jerusalem, so I regretted I was not able to attend. A few of our Palestinian and International Board members attended, as did our Israeli Honorary Board member MK Ephraim Sneh. I heard good things about it, but don’t have first hand info. It’s easy to be skeptical about it and paint it as a PR stunt, but it seems to me that it generated hope and interest in Palestinian economic development, both of which are very important. I was also told by several Palestinian friends that this was the first time they saw enormous effort on the part of the Israeli government to truly create a very comfortable environment for the conference attendees and the people of the region, with far less checkpoints and very courteous relations. The week to me seemed filled with energy and buzz.

I am extremely supportive of economic development at this stage, and consider it critical to building a vibrant Palestinian civic society and Palestinian State. It has to occur in tandem with political progress, but it is certainly vital. Tony Blair and Prime Minister Fayyad both seem very committed to achieving progress on the ground, which is also important to contrast this approach in the West Bank to Hamas’s apocalyptic and totalitarian governance in Gaza.
AN: Recent polls say that a significant majority of Palestinians consider peace talks futile or counterproductive. Most Palestinians I know think talks are just window dressing for the occupation and that Israeli deeds–expanding settlements, checkpoints, and constraints on movement of goods and services–are all that matters. And many Israelis also believe that Palestinian talk of peace during the Oslo period was just a smokescreen for expanding “security” forces that turned into terrorists when push came to shove. Has the very word “peace” become degraded in this context? Has language lost all currency?
DL: Yes, most Palestinians and Israelis have lost the ability to visualize that peace can be achieved, and the word “peace” has indeed been devalued. Everyone says they want “peace,” but they hang on to this word while hanging on to absolutist or unrealistic positions that are not consistent with peace. That’s why OneVoice launched the Imagine 2018 Campaign this year: To compel people to dare to visualize what their lives could look like in 2018 if a framework agreement was achieved this year (as the Heads of State committed to) and implemented over the next year, and to deal with the problem of restoring some meaning to the word “peace.” We also instituted a “Breaking the Taboos” series of Town Hall Meetings.

Can OneVoice Accomplish Enough: for World Cup 2018 to be hosted in Israel/Palestine?Can OneVoice Accomplish Enough: for World Cup 2018 to be hosted in Israel/Palestine?AN: Last year, OneVoice had to cancel long-planned simultaneous concerts in Jericho and Tel Aviv because of security threats on the West Bank. OneVoice’s current focus is on the latest round of peace talks, with a clock on the OneVoice site ticking down to 12/12/08–my 52nd birthday, by the way. These talks were initiated by three very weak leaders, with an outcome that at the very best cannot be implemented before the next Palestinian elections–again assuming a Fatah candidate can run and win in Gaza. Does this strategy carry a huge risk of increasing people’s cynicism and despair? Have you created a large target and sent an invitation to the extremists to blow it up?
DL: The reasons for postponing the OneVoice Summit are thoroughly (and painfully but earnestly) discussed on my blog, in the entries between September and November 2007. The “clock” started ticking on 12/12/07, your 51st birthday, which coincided with the date when the Israeli and Palestinian Heads of State started their negotiations. In our OneVoice Mandate, signed by hundreds of thousands of people over the course of 18 months, we demanded that the elected representatives immediately restart negotiations, which should remain uninterrupted until the achievement of a comprehensive agreement, within a framework of no more than one year.

When we made this demand, even our Board members thought we were taking too big a risk, as negotiations had not been conducted for 7 years, and the conflict hadn’t been solved for decades. We explained that it is the role and duty of citizens to push and propel their leaders to do this, without us worrying about political repercussions, and that we would rather try and fail than not try at all. In fact, we succeeded: At Annapolis, Bush, Olmert, and Abbas all agreed not only to rekindle negotiations, but to our surprise, they even committed to a framework agreement within a year. So the Clock is an effort to hold them accountable.

That said, I sadly feel that you may be correct, as given all the internal problems Prime Minister Olmert is facing, not to mention the challenges Abbas faces in Palestine and the fact that Hamas controls Gaza, most observers feel there is no chance an agreement will come through in 2008.

We are indeed evaluating whether we should change our call to action. That said:
1) We should also take into consideration that part of the reason why “Leaders are Weak” is because we as citizens make too many excuses not to act to strengthen leaders with moderate agendas; and so instead of making excuses for why it is futile to act, if we are able to again galvanize public support, it is at least more likely that progress will be made.

2) We should bear in mind that some progress in the negotiations and political environment is critical, as we are not just at risk of giving up the upside of an agreement, but also of seeing Hamas spread its reign into the West Bank if the political track does not show that diplomacy and a two-state-solution are a better alternative to nihilistic absolutism.
AN: I spent a couple of weeks in the holy land at the beginning of the 2006 war with Hezbollah, half on each side of the green line. Both the Israelis and the Palestinians were absolutely convinced that the Western media was hopelessly biased against them. Are they both right, or both wrong? How is US and European reportage informed by anti-Semitism and/or racism? Is there a feedback loop between the conflict and what could be described as the world’s longest running reality horror show?
DL: The media is biased towards news that sells, and news that sells tends to be news that exacerbates conflicts, reinforces stereotypes, and plays into our primal defensive instincts. So, in a sense they are both right and they are both wrong: They are right that the media is biased, but it is not biased in the favor of the other–it is biased in the bent towards extremist views. The only way to change that is for citizens to vote with their feet and demand deeper and more nuanced coverage, which is unlikely to happen, or to generate newsworthy events about the otherwise “boring” mainstream citizenry that cherishes a resolution of the conflict.
Yes, there is a dangerous feedback loop between the conflict and the “reality horror show” of this conflict. The more negative things one sees about the other, the more we adopt bad opinions about them and assume they are all “the enemy,” which leads to false polarization. We then become entrenched in a garrison mentality of Us Vs Them. The only way out of it is by forcing ourselves to think for ourselves, and to meet the other at a human level.
AN: One Voice appears to be resolutely secular. Your list of “partners” doesn’t include any representatives or affiliates of the denominations of any of the Abrahamic faiths. Is this by accident or design? It has been noted that the real conflict here may be internal: Between secular elites in Israel and Palestine and a multitude of people with little education or income but a boatload of belief. Considering that religion is an enormous part of the problem in the holy land, is it realistic to think a solution can be found that doesn’t include the voice of the faithful? Do you see any positive role for people of faith in resolving this conflict?
DL: Our Honorary Board actually incudes foremost religious leaders of all the Abrahamic Faiths, from Imam Feisal Abdel Rauf, to Rabbi David Rosen, to Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, to Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, and on and on.
Progressive Religious leaders such as the above are very much part of the solution, but they face the same problem discussed earlier: The media find it less sexy to interview sensible people than big screaming extremists.
HELEN JUPITER: Through OneVoice and the Imagine: 2018 contest, you are working to engage and amplify the moderate voices on the subject of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict–voices we rarely hear. How have you inspired moderates to take effective action?
DL: First, we asked Israeli and Palestinian kids ages 13-17 to share their vision for what 2018 could look like if a framework peace agreement were to be achieved. The Palestinian Ministry of Education imparted this essay campaign across the West Bank. We imparted it through our staff in Gaza. And in Israel our staff imparted it with the cooperation of the Israeli Ministry of Education and other youth movements and kids’ websites (Tapuz). Tens of thousands were exposed and participated; thousands were finalists. We will soon announce the 100 winners and publicize some of the essays in Israeli and Palestinian newspapers and on the web.

The next phase, which we’ve just started on, is to work with foremost filmmakers (from Hollywood as well as from Israel and Palestine) and ask them to select one essay that speaks to them and turn it into a 1-5 minute short film. We also have two more phases that are big surprises to be shared later in the year.

HJ: Is it possible to spark galvanizing passion in moderate thinkers?

DL: It is possible, but it is very difficult. It is in the nature of moderates to be less assertive, and if we are to tackle the challenges our world will face this century, it is imperative that we re-educate ourselves to understand activism is necessary.

HJ: What can Jewcy readers–largely based in the US–realistically do to have an impact?
DL: The OneVoice site has a section with a list of very specific and concrete ways in which people can get involved, starting with something as simple as joining the movement, signing up to receive our updates so people hear the deeper news and not just the alarmist partisan news, forwarding the news updates to their friends and encouraging them to join, making donations in cash or in-kind, volunteering in their communities, hosting presentations about OneVoice, and/or writing to media and policy makers with this message.

HJ: It seems to me that there are three major branches in your thoughts on ending the Israeli/Palestinian conflict: economic, grassroots activist, and political. With PeaceWorks, you’ve developed a business model that manages mutually-beneficial relationships between Israeli, Egyptian, Palestinian, and Turkish companies. With OneVoice, you’ve brought together over 645,000 citizens in support of a two-state agreement. Market forces and grassroots peoples’ movements are important and can be effective, especially in conjunction with one another, but are they powerful enough to influence political policy-making? What progress have you seen through your campaign thus far?

I think that the two greatest accomplishments are:
1) Helping re-frame the conflict, from the view circa 2001 that this conflict is one of Israelis vs. Palestinians or Jews vs. Muslims, to a more nuanced understanding that the conflict is not about “us” vs. “them,” but about empowering moderate voices on both sides to help overcome absolutism and nihilism.

2) Injecting into the political arena the concept about the possibility of achieving a two-state agreement within a one-year framework – what is still missing a commitment to uninterrupted negotiations, which is the only way to guarantee getting there: You get in the negotiations room and don’t come out till you conclude an agreement.
JOEY KURTZMAN: Palestinians sometimes protest that when Jewish-Americans call for “peace” in Israel/Palestine, they are actually calling for Palestinians to surrender their right to struggle. Does Peaceworks believe that Palestinians have the right to select the means by which they pursue their own national liberation?
DL: PeaceWorks actually does not deal at all with these political issues – it just fosters economic cooperation; the OneVoice Movement does not deny people their “narrative,” but it focuses on bringing about working solutions that can truly pull the Israeli and Palestinian people out of the “intractable” conflict; the conflict is only “intractable” if you insist you want “peace” but you deny that peace entails some painful compromises. If either Israelis or Palestinians hang on to absolutist positions, they should at least recognize theirs are not consistent with the pursuit of “peace.” While OneVoice does not pass moral judgments, the OneVoice Principles for Engagement require a) mutual recognition (of the humanity and rights of both peoples), b) a recognition of the need for personal civic action to wrest back the agenda, and c) a recognition that civic action must be non-violent to achieve its goals.

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