OneVoice for Peace
A wise woman once said to me: “If you want to be a bridge, watch out. Bridges get trampled on.”
OneVoice is an organization of Israelis and Palestinians strongly committed to the two-state solution and to nonviolence. To promote these ends they target their message to moderate people on both sides, people whose voices are not being heard and who may be afraid to speak out, who have had enough of this conflict and are willing to compromise for peace.
Now what could be wrong with that? In spite of, or more precisely because of its fairness, this group has been subject to relentless attacks over the years, particularly from the Palestinian side. Why? Because it dares to say that both sides have made mistakes, and that both sides need to do more for peace. If you want to be a bridge, watch out.
In a statement for the 2007 World Economic Forum Adi Balderman, OneVoice Israel Leadership Program Director, spoke out forcefully for the two-state solution, the vision of Israelis and Palestinians coexisting in two sovereign states. “Why hasn’t this vision become a reality?” she asked. “Partly because we, the people, on both sides, have not done enough to accomplish our heart’s desire.” (1)
To anyone following the conflict with a fair mind, this should seem obvious. The Israeli settlements project has continued in spite of lip service from the Israeli government that it really wants two states. On the Palestinian side anti-Jewish incitement is very much alive, as well as rocket attacks on Israeli population centers and an insistence on a “right of return,” all of which belie Palestinian professions of support for two states. Each side keeps saying that it wants peace, while each side has given the other ample reason for distrust. There is of course one glaring exception to the above: The Palestinian leadership in Gaza does not even say that it wants peace. At least there we have a little honesty.
And so comes OneVoice of moderation, trying to reconcile two sides that refuse to budge. I have documented previous attacks on this group (2)(3). A more recent one comes from Electronic Intifada, a web site that makes no secret of its opposition to peaceful coexistence between a Palestinian and a Jewish state – and which even has a history of publishing anti-semitic material on its web site (4). In a scathing attack (5), Electronic Intifada accuses OneVoice of “racism” because of a Facebook page from which they quote OneVoice as saying that a two-state solution is the only way to ensure a Jewish majority in Israel. If that is racist, then the original 1947 United Nations Partition Resolution was racist, because it called for Jewish and Arab states in Palestine. A Jewish state is no more racist than any other country (including all the Arab countries) in which one ethnic group is in the majority. This is especially true when continuing anti-Semitism around the world, and particularly in Arab countries and countries like France with sizable Arab populations, demonstrates the need for a place where Jews can be in charge of their own destiny. Is that not also what Palestinians want?
Perhaps the real racism is in the insistence that Jews should be a minority wherever they are. This is certainly the agenda of Electronic Intifada, as one can easily notice by perusing their web site. They promote a “one-state solution,” in which Jews would once again be a minority in a predominantly Arab state stretching from the river to the sea, with an Arab population augmented by an influx of Palestinian refugees from all over the Arab world who were maintained in wretched camps for years by countries who never wanted them and never treated them as equals. The fate of Jews living in such a state would be no more promising than that of Jews who previously lived as minorities in Arab lands (before that life became unlivable for most of them).
Thus what Electronic Intifada deceptively calls “racism” is really a challenge to the Jewish state, as if to say: “You know that the safety of your state lies in its remaining Jewish. And you want your state to be a democracy. So support the two-state solution; it is your only hope.” That is not racism. That is not “colluding with the occupation.” It is calling for an end to the occupation!
It should not surprise anyone that Electronic Intifada must resort to outright lies in order to build its case. In the very same article they accuse OneVoice of publishing a map that shows all of historic Palestine as part of Israel, and they even provide a link. I was quite intrigued by the suggestion that OneVoice could possibly endorse or print such a map, so I followed that link. Of course no such map was there on the OneVoice web site. I did, however, find this (6):
On this map the West Bank and Gaza are clearly delineated, and it is obvious that the notion of OneVoice supporting a “Greater Israel” is simply absurd. And of course Electronic Intifada will never mention the many maps of Palestine published by the Palestinian Authority that omit the state of Israel (7). So to not telling the truth add hypocrisy.
Sometimes you can identify true peacemakers by who opposes them. OneVoice has been slammed by so many Palestinian hate groups that they must be doing something right. The groups who oppose OneVoice also oppose Israel’s existence. The fact that these groups feel so threatened by OneVoice that they must attack it so often and so venomously might even be a sign of hope: darkness always fears light, so what light needs to do – not an easy task at all – is be persistent.
The fact that OneVoice has both the honesty and the political maturity to realize that both sides are flawed, and the courage to take both sides to task, should serve as a model. The solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will never be found in partisanship. Only when enough people are willing to recognize the mistakes that both sides have made, and to engage in self-criticism as well as criticism of the other, will the balance of public opinion finally begin to shift. This may be too much to hope for in one lifetime. But when we find a group of people ready and willing to do it, we must recognize what a rare and valuable thing it is. Support the bridge.
(1) Adi Balderman, “OneVoice Movement Tel Aviv Statement,” uploaded on Jan 25, 2007, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0HN2y5qYpI.
(2) “Voices Against OneVoice,” last modified October 18, 2007, http://www.peacewithrealism.org/headline/onevoice.htm.
(3) “’Another Voice’ Against OneVoice,” last modified October 21, 2007, http://www.peacewithrealism.org/headline/othervoice.htm.
(4) “Divestment and Anti-Semitism,” last modified March 27, 2005, http://www.peacewithrealism.org/headline/divest01.htm
(5) Ali Abunimah, “Israeli Fake Peace Group One Voice Reveals Its Anti-Palestinian Bigotry in Facebook Graphics,” last modified January 16, 2003 (peacewithrealism.net does not link to malevolent web sites on either side).
(7) Palestine Media Watch, “PA Depicts a World Without Israel,” http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=466.