On a day when President Obama told members of the United Nations that the United States seeks "a future where Palestinians live in a sovereign state of their own, with no limit to what they can achieve” and that "America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable, and our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring,” a diverse group of over thirty students from both the Christian and Muslim Law Students Associations came together for a OneVoice presentation.
UDC law student, Alia Cambel, introduced the Educational International Director of Programs for OneVoice, Rachel Steinberg, who focused the discussion on the organization’s grassroots efforts in both Tel Aviv and Ramallah. OneVoice, an international non-partisan grassroots movement made up of over 450,000 signatories, serves to amplify the voice of moderate Israelis and Palestinians, empowering them to compel their elected officials and communities toward a bi-state solution. In an
environment where 78% of Israelis and 74% of Palestinians are willing to
accept a bi-state solution (knowing that there will be painful
compromises), OneVoice, through consensus building and grassroots organization, seeks
to utilize the voice and organizing power of Palestinian and Israeli
Rachel Steinberg, Educational International Director of Programs for OneVoice
Through recruitment, training, outreach and mobilization, youth leaders engage in town halls and other action-orientated campaigns such as "Imagine Palestine/Imagine Israel in 2018” where youths were asked to write short stories and/or record or post their stories on Facebook or Twitter. At today’s meeting, two young students, one Palestinian and one Israeli, spoke about their respective experiences growing up in communities fraught with conflict and how their desire to seek a non-violent bi-state solution drew them to the work of OneVoice and inspired them to get involved as Youth Leaders in the "Imagine Palestine/Imagine Israel in 2018” campaign.
When asked how they saw Palestine and Israel in 2018, the young Israeli student, who had been a soldier for three years and was in the reserves, said he imagined not having the need to go to war, of not having to fight. The young Palestinian agreed and could see getting to the business of building an independent state that is globally recognized by the United Nations.
Asked how America could be a help in that effort, Rachel Steinberg said that it was not beneficial to pick a specific side, but rather be supportive of negotiations of a bi-state solution; that as Americans, it was more important and productive to helpinitiate discussions and act as a moderator of the two groups. The students here today seemed to agree as many signed up for more information on how they too could "keep it local—make it global,” whether through attending leadership seminar trainings, following OneVoice on Facebook and Twitter, joining in a call to action or starting OneVoice chapters on campus. One thing was for sure: a non-violent resolution was the interest of all groups involved.