Levellers

Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

One Million Palestinians and Israelis Call for Peace Talks

August 2, 2007 – 8:00am IDT

 

Mid East: One Million Palestinians and Israelis Call for Immediate, uninterrupted Negotiations for Two-state Solution

 

Dennis Ross, Saeb Erakat, Muhammad Ali, Dov Lautman, Klaus Schwab

Among Global Leaders Supporting Grassroots OneVoice Movement

 

Landmark Public Summits in Jericho + Tel Aviv 10.18.07
Message to Abbas and Olmert: Moderate Majority Silent No Longer 

www.onemillionvoices.org

 

Jericho/Tel Aviv, August 1, 2007 – Frustrated with ongoing instability in the region, the recent crisis in Gaza and lack of progress, the OneVoice Movement today announced that nearly 500,000 Palestinian and Israeli citizens have united to demand immediate, ongoing, uninterrupted negotiations until a comprehensive two-state agreement is achieved. OneVoice has committed to recruit one million signatories to join the movement by October.

 

On October 18, 2007, Israeli and Palestinian citizens – together with international supporters – will mobilize to call for a two-state solution and an end to the occupation and terror. OneVoice, a non-partisan mainstream nationalist movement working in Israel and Palestine for an end to the conflict, will organize separate, simultaneous public summits in Tel Aviv, Jericho and Jerusalem, with international “Echo” events in London, Washington D.C. and Ottawa. The summits will be broadcast via satellite for the world to see the international solidarity towards ending the conflict. Hundreds of thousands are expected to participate and to add their signatures to the OneVoice mandate for a two-state solution. 

 

“The people need to start leading the way, to create the conditions necessary for their elected representatives to fulfill the will of the moderate majority,” said Daniel Lubetzky, Founder of the OneVoice Movement. “Excuses and disclaimers won’t get us anywhere. Each of us needs to ask, what can I do to help end the conflict? What am I willing to do to ensure negotiations do not stop until the Heads of State achieve an agreement that can be presented to the people?”

 

Bringing together international co-producers Michael Lang (Woodstock Productions) and Chris Wangro (Zaragunda Inc.) with the top Israeli and Palestinian production teams, programs for the One Million Voices to End the Conflict public summits will include live statements from foremost dignitaries and religious leaders, a variety of international and regional musical talent, messages from celebrities and luminaries, a magical performance by David Copperfield and raw commitments from OneVoice activists on the ground. The events will create an unprecedented shared reality, in which the Israeli, Palestinian and international communities are linked by their commitment to end the conflict. 

 

In 2004, as a result of ground-breaking citizen negotiations, OneVoice revealed that 76 percent of both Palestinians and Israelis support a two-state solution. By late 2005, over 150,000 Palestinian and Israeli citizen negotiators had achieved consensus on Ten Pillars for Conflict Resolution. However, to date moderates on both sides have kept silent, allowing a small minority of violent extremists to hijack the will of the people and capture global media attention.

 

“The most difficult thing in this region is to be a person of peace and moderation, especially at times when people are being killed,” said Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator. “Sanity, wisdom and courage tend to disappear when violence is prevalent. Peacemaking is not just about negotiating an agreement – it’s about having the people demand peace. OneVoice’s initiatives on October 18 are a major step towards making that happen.”

 

“OneVoice’s October 18th events are poised to inject the political situation in the Middle East, rife with complexities and contradictions, with a new hope by enabling the Israeli and Palestinian people to take part in the process,” said Ambassador Dennis Ross. “There have been failures of leadership on both sides, but what the OneVoice Movement is doing goes beyond blaming politicians, focusing in on the people of this region, empowering and mobilizing them to build a bold, absolute mandate for an end to the conflict.”

 

By organizing the moderate majority, OneVoice aims to empower its signatories to challenge the current dynamic of weakened leaders and divided populations. The public summits on October 18th will serve as a mandate for Palestinian President Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Olmert, both of whom were elected on a platform for a two-state solution, to make a sustained push for peace. As momentum builds towards the event, OneVoice aims to expand its support base to one million, thus bringing together One Million Voices to End the Conflict.

 

International support is growing for the OneVoice Mandate and for October 18th One Million Voices To End the Conflict public summits. The list of global luminaries who have proclaimed their support for OneVoice continues to expand. Board members and supporters thus far include:

 

·         Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and President of the World Economic Forum

·         Muhammad Ali, philanthropist and former heavyweight boxing champion

·         Sheikh Taysir al Tamimi, Chief Palestinian Islamic Justice

·         Rabbi David Rosen, Chairman, International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations

·         Ambassador Dennis Ross, Mideast Envoy during Clinton and Bush Administrations

·         Saeb Erakat, Head of Negotiations, Palestinian Authority

·         Dov Lautman, foremost Israeli business leader and winner of Israel Prize

·         Stuart Eizenstat, former US Deputy Secretary of Treasury and Undersecretary of State

·         Samer Khoury, foremost Palestinian business leader; CEO, Consolidated Contracts International

 

OneVoice Palestine Executive Director Nisreen Shaheen said, “With the Arab Initiative on the table and the entire world’s attention on the Middle East, ordinary people have an extraordinary opportunity to make their voices heard.”

 

Dr. Fathi Darwish, OneVoice Palestine Director General, added, “We need to create a sense of urgency among all parties involved – Israelis, Palestinians, and people everywhere – to once and for all end the occupation and the violence and suffering on all sides and enable Palestinians and Israelis to live in peace.”

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About the OneVoice Movement:

 

The OneVoice Movement is a mainstream nationalist grassroots movement with nearly 500,000 Israeli and Palestinian signatories, and 3,000 highly-trained youth leaders.  It aims to amplify the voice of the overwhelming but heretofore silent majority of moderates who wish for peace and prosperity, empowering them to demand accountability from elected representatives and work toward a two-state solution.  OneVoice counts on its Board over 60 foremost dignitaries and business leaders across a wide spectrum of politics and beliefs, joining as OneVoice against violent extremism and for conflict resolution. Learn more by visiting www.onevoicemovement.org.

For more information and to tell us what you think, please visit our blog:
http://blog.onevoicemovement.org

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August 22, 2007 Posted by | Israel-Palestine, peacemaking | Comments Off on One Million Palestinians and Israelis Call for Peace Talks

U.S. Evangelicals Send Bush Letter On Israel-Palestine

In case you missed it, as I did, at first, on 27 July 2007, a group of U.S. Evangelical Christian leaders sent President Bush a letter endorsing a two-state solution for Israeli-Palestinian peace and urging more vigorous U.S. engagement in the peace process! They were, of course, denounced by Hagee and the “Christian Zionists,” but this did manage to quell the media-induced view that all U.S. evangelical Christians believe, with the “Christian Zionists,” that Palestinians have no claims on any part of the Land of Promise and that ethnic cleansing of all Palestinians from “Greater Israel” is God’s will.

To view the original letter and its initial signatories, click here.  On this page you can add your own name in support, plus additional comments to the White House. (Keep them clean and Christlike, folks.)  You can see the names of additional signers (including yours truly) here.  I’d also suggest sending a copy of this letter to your local newspaper and to your Congressional Representative and both Senators.  Write an op-ed about it for your local paper.  If we break the image of evangelicals as uniformly “Zionist,” we may do as much for Middle East peace as anything else. After all, U.S. politicians of all stripes know that Evangelical Christians are a powerful voting bloc.  Many may be more stridently pro-anything-Israel-wants not out of personal conviction, but out of a desire to remain in office. So, maybe it would be a good idea to send the letter to your favorite presidential candidate (or all of them in both major parties!), too.  Maybe the simple realization that Jimmy Carter isn’t the only evangelical Christian who wants a two-state Middle East peace will allow these politicians to act on their best convictions, instead of out of a mistaken belief that they will lose ALL of a powerful constituency unless they back every move of the Israeli far right.

August 21, 2007 Posted by | Israel-Palestine | 6 Comments

Bush to Restart Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks?

It seems that every recent U.S. President, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and now, Bush II, makes an effort to nurture a breakthrough in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking as they come toward the end of their time in office. Having become a lame duck in domestic politics, the presidents seek to leave a legacy of dramatic peacemaking.  I wonder if one reason that Jimmy Carter’s work toward the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty (not one line of which has ever been broken) was a success is because he did not wait until he was a lame duck, but worked when he still had many priorities in his presidency–it was a sign to both sides that he was serious.

Still, for whatever reasons, and with however much cynicism about Bush’s motives and chances, this peacemaking move must be celebrated as good news.  There are many things that can go wrong, but the indifference of the last 6 years has allowed almost EVERYTHING to go wrong.  If the process succeeds, I will celebrate, and, while it won’t make up for all the evil Bush has unleashed in the world, it would still be something to celebrate and to give him credit.  If “only Nixon can go to China,” can it be that only Bush can push Israel and Palestine to serious negotiating? I’m not holding my breath, but God does work in surprising ways.

July 17, 2007 Posted by | Israel-Palestine, peacemaking | Comments Off on Bush to Restart Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks?

From the West Bank: Friday Nonviolent Protests Continue/Israeli Violence Increases

On Sami Awad’s wonderful blog, Never Give Up, you can find a description and photos of the nonviolent protest in Bethlehem at the apartheid wall this past Friday.  Sami Awad, a Palestinian Christian, runs Holy Land Trust which uses socially responsible tourism to raise money to grow the nonviolent resistance movement in Palestine.  Holy Land Trust also runs the web-based Palestinian News Service, to which anyone who wants to get past the mainstream media garbage, should subscribe.

July 17, 2007 Posted by | Israel-Palestine, nuclear weapons | Comments Off on From the West Bank: Friday Nonviolent Protests Continue/Israeli Violence Increases

Rejoice! BBC Journalist Alan Johnston Released

After 114 days of captivity in Gaza, Alan Johnston has been released unharmed. This is the first good news out of Gaza in a long time.

July 4, 2007 Posted by | economic justice, human rights., Israel-Palestine | Comments Off on Rejoice! BBC Journalist Alan Johnston Released

Jerusalem Heads of Christian Churches Call for Peace

The following statement by the heads of Christian churches in Jerusalem was addressed to leaders of Hamas and Fatah.  My own hopes for a just two-state peace in Israel-Palestine are at their lowest ebb ever. I despair that I am looking at the beginning of the end of Palestinians as a people–partly through self-destruction and partly by the actions of Israel and the U.S.  And what will that destruction do to the soul of the Israeli people?  My prayers, I confess, will take the form of “Dear God, what now?” MLW-W

 An urgent call from The Heads of Churches to the members of Fateh and Hamas 

June 14th , 2007 

On the recent 40th Anniversary of the Occupation we urged all sides to work for peace and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. How painful and awful then that now we have to say stop all domestic fighting.  

The fighting has struck at the most vulnerable timing thus diverting International attention away from the National issue with its priorities and so disappointing the Palestinian people’s hope of attaining independence together with freedom from Occupation with its related aspects.  

This domestic fighting where the brother draws his weapon in the face of his brother is detrimental to all the aspirations of achieving security and stability for the Palestinian People.

In the name of the One and only God as well as in the name of each devastated Palestinian many of whom are still dying, we urge our brothers in Fateh and Hamas movements to listen to the voice of reason, truth and wisdom. So we implore that you immediately announce the cessation of all bloody fighting and to return back to the path of dialogue and attempt through understanding to solve all differences. In this urgent appeal we would draw attention to that which both parties have in common assuring them that it is greater that their differences. The national and land cause must be greater than any other consideration. 

In this belief we urgently ask both movements to listen and put aside all weapons so concentrating on ending the Occupation in a peaceful manner based on National fundamentals and International legitimacy in order to achieve freedom for all the people together with an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its Capital.

June 15, 2007 Posted by | Israel-Palestine | Comments Off on Jerusalem Heads of Christian Churches Call for Peace

Forty Years of Occupation

Forty Years ago today was the start of the 1967 Six Day War.  Arab nations were threatening an attack on Israel designed to end the country’s existence.  Israel launched a preemptive strike and in 6 days completely reversed the course of events: capturing the Golan Heights, all of Jerusalem,  the West Bank of the Jordan, and the Gaza Strip.  The Golan Heights were mostly returned to Egypt after the signing of the Israeli-Egypt Peace Treaty in 1977, except for a small portion. Syria and Lebanon dispute ownership of that small portion of the Golan Heights and, until that legal claim is settled, Israel cannot return it.[Correction: As 2 have noticed, my memory is getting spotty. The Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt.  The Golan Heights remain occupied.]

I am a pacifist, but the best one can hope that secular governments do is to live up to the standards of Just War Theory as codified in international law.  So, I do not fault Israel’s actions in the Six Day War.   A preemptive strike is allowed if there is threat of immanent attack, as there was in this case.  There is little doubt that Israel owes her existence to the brilliant actions of her military leaders forty years ago this week.  Further, international law recognizes the temporary occupation of enemy lands as “buffer zones” until one can negotiate return under conditions that guarantee security, as happened in ’77 with the Golan Heights.

But forty years is enough. It is time to negotiate the return of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem to the Palestinian people.  The Israeli occupation is something Palestinians call “the Catastrophe” and anyone paying attention knows why.  While I do not condemn Israel for occupying these lands in 1967, I do condemn (as do several UN Security Council resolutions and every U.S. presidential administration–Republican and Democratic–until THIS ONE) Israel’s building of permanent settlements in the Occupied Territories. Every such settlement is a nail in the coffin of peace.  So, is the Wall eating up more Palestinian land and cutting off people from their crops and orchards and walling off cities and villages (like giant open air prisons) from hospitals and each other.

The time is long overdue for a Two-State settlement with Israel within her pre-June 1967 borders, with a shared Jerusalem, a tearing down of all walls–and an end to all violence whether Palestinian or Israeli.  The Arab League has proposed full recognition of Israel and full diplomatic relations if Israel agrees to such a peace deal.  She should take it. Right now, only Egypt and Jordan recognize Israel. The Arab League deal would make peace with all of the Arab neighbors of Israel. Separate peace deals could quickly be made with her non-Arabic neighbors, Turkey and Iran.  The U.S. should push Israel to enter into negotiations with the Palestinians based on the Arab League proposal–and foolish “End Times” scenarios cherished by the lunatic fringe of American evangelicalism should not stop us.

UPDATE:  A recent poll of both Arab-Americans and Jewish-Americans show that both groups overwhelmingly support a just peace and a two-state solution.  News media to the contrary, both communities in the U.S. appear to agree on much else in the Middle East, too.  Can this agreement be harnassed to influence U.S. foreign policy or to influence Israeli and Palestinian politicians?  One step is for this broad agreement to become more widely known.

June 5, 2007 Posted by | Israel-Palestine | 2 Comments

Christian Appeal for Peacemaking Action in Middle East

The Patriarchs and Heads of  local Christian Churches in Jerusalem have issued an appeal for International Church Action for Peace in Palestine and Israel June 3-9, 2007.  You can read the entire appeal as a pdf file here.  (Requires Adobe Acrobat reader. Download one for free here.)

Responding to this urgent appeal, which is focused on the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Six Day War and the Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza (an event that Palestinians call “the Catastrophe”), Churches for a Middle East Peace encourages all Christians to pray for peacemaking in Israel-Palestine and urges advocacy on this issue.  They suggest that Christians flood the White House comment line and emails with calls for bold diplomacy for an end to the Occupation. The U.S. President has more influence with the government of Israel than any other head of state and has chosen not to work for peace there.

Churches for a Middle East Peace suggests a message worded something like this:

 I appeal to the President to take diplomatic action now to stop the spiraling Israeli-Palestinian violence and restore hope for peace. The Arab League Peace Proposal opens the door for Israel-Palestinian negotiations that can end the occupation and lead to a two-state solution. Without vigorous peacemaking, violence fills the vacuum. The time for action is now.

The White House comment line is 202-456-1111 or email comments@whitehouse.gov .  I suggest further that we write letters to our local papers and make this a matter of prayer in all our churches.  Although urgent action for a just peace is needed before the next presidential election, email the campaigns of the various presidential candidates (especially any you support) and let them know that you expect vigorous peacemaking and a return to the U.S. role as an honest broker between both sides, not one-sided support for Israel as some candidates have indicated.

For non-U.S. readers:  Although bold diplomacy from the U.S. president could play a unique role, it may be that a real breakthrough comes from elsewhere. Contact your leaders with similar calls for bold diplomacy.

May 30, 2007 Posted by | Israel-Palestine, just peacemaking | Comments Off on Christian Appeal for Peacemaking Action in Middle East

Just In: Five U.S. Presidential Candidates Discuss Their Views of Israel

As reported here, the Jerusalem Post has published the responses of 5 U.S. presidential hopefuls to questions about how they view U.S.-Israeli relations. All champion Israel, and only a few mention the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.  We need to press candidates more on what they would do to restart this process and bring about a just two-state peace in Israel-Palestine –as well as their overall views on Middle East peace.  Candidates who blindly support Israel in everything should not be rewarded with votes.  Hat tip to Melissa Rogers for this item.

May 25, 2007 Posted by | foreign policy, Israel, Israel-Palestine, just peacemaking, U.S. politics | 3 Comments

Updates on Nonviolent Movement in Palestine

Sami Awad, Palestinian Baptist, notes that this week is the 59th anniversary of the Israeli occupation, an event Palestinians call “the catastrophe.” Sami, who leads the Holy Land Trust, has been coordinating nonviolent resistance events in commemoration of this tragedy. In general, while the world has been focused on the increasing violence between Hamas and Fatah in Gaza (along with cross-border violent exchanges between Hamas and the Israelis), the increase in nonviolent campaigns on the West Bank has been missed. In other news, Sami, notes that the Israeli military has destroyed another Palestinian orchard needed for survival. Replantings are planned in defiance.

Sami’s blog, Never Give Up: Trust in the Power of Nonviolence, is a good source of news about events in Palestine. As is the online Palestinian New Network which Holy Land Trust runs. Also, if you are looking for something to do with your church’s youth and/or young adults that isn’t just fun and games, consider Palestine Summer Encounter.  Crossposted from Mainstream Baptists, to which I am a semi-regular contributor.

May 20, 2007 Posted by | economic justice, human rights., Israel-Palestine, nonviolence, peacemaking | Comments Off on Updates on Nonviolent Movement in Palestine