Ordinary young Palestinian and Israeli citizens were given an unprecedented opportunity last week to present an impassioned video expressing their views to world leaders at the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni listened as leaders of the youth movement, OneVoice, told them, "Enough!" (Read more to see video)
With their arrival in Switzerland, the movement had come full circle, returning to the place where less than five years earlier they’d been taught how to build a movement for change by members of the World Economic Forum and Global youth leaders. Today the group’s membership has surpassed one million Israelis and Palestinians and it was asking the question to its nations’ leaders — and of everyone else attending the conference or watching live online — What are you willing to do to end the conflict?
Using inspiring music and strong appeals for urgent action by both Jews and Arabs, as well as the King of Jordan, the video moved members in the audience and asserted, "The time has come to listen to the voice of the moderate majority, and to prevent violent extremists from hijacking our lives, the lives of millions of Israelis and Palestinians…. We will not accept any more excuses or delays."
Afterward, the Israeli and Palestinian leaders responded as witnesses packed the hall with over 2,000 dignitaries from around the world.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said, "As I heard these messages, hope rose in my heart that peace is possible, and overdue." He added emphatically, "I am fully convinced that in spite of all the difficulties, peace is possible."
Tzipi Livni, Israel’s foreign minister, said, "After watching together these wonderful youth, after listening to President Abbas, I have a feeling of sadness for lost opportunities, but also a great feeling of hope." She added, "But it is our responsibility as leaders to give them the hope. We must make a promise and fulfil … the vision of two states living side by side in peace." (Continued below)
According to a press release from the OneVoice movement, a Jewish businessman who was in the audience, Bertie Lubner, responded to one of the Palestinians in the video named Nisreen by saying, "I’ve never seen one Palestinian speak with such assertiveness, let alone a group of thousands standing up so clearly for their independence but also for peace. It definitely gave me hope that there may be a hidden majority we can talk to on the other side."
Nisreen Shaheen is the Executive Director of OneVoice Palestine, and her video segment was taped in the largest hall in the West Bank city of Ramallah where she was surrounded by a crowd of hundreds of Palestinians. She appealed to the assembled leaders: "Enough promises, enough excuses, enough suffering…. Help us not to lose hope, help us strengthen this movement, help us strengthen our leaders, that they may sit down at the table and stand up with a fair and lasting peace agreement."
The OneVoice Israel Director of Leadership Programs, Adi Balderman, was taped in Tel Aviv, Israel. Speaking for moderates he said, "Each and every one of us [needs] to take action and personal responsibility in ensuring a better future. If the millions of moderate Israelis and Palestinians each take a small step, we will unleash the power of the people and reclaim our lives."
Darya Shaikh, the US Program Director at One Voice, told the Good News Network yesterday, "The staff and volunteers are very excited about the buzz generated by the video." The group is calling on more news media to cover their growing movement. Interested members of the public can add their voice and their support at: OneVoiceMovement.org
To continue the momentum, the Good News Network has uploaded the video to YouTube and GNN’s collection of inspiring stories there.