LONDON, July 15, 2011 /PRNewswire-AsiaNet/ –
Leaders of the OneVoice Movement examined the lessons of the Arab Spring and the potential for mobilizing the grassroots as a force for peace between Israel and Palestine at the Royal Society for the Arts on Thursday.
An audience of 180 listened to and interacted with a panel of speakers, including OneVoice Israel Executive Director Tal Harris and OneVoice Palestine Executive Director Samer Makhlouf, who debated the failure of politicians to forge a successful framework. The speakers agreed that the masses must take the initiative to secure a peaceful future.
“The elites have duped the Israeli people into seeing success as perceptual conflict management,” said Harris. “It is our job to show Israel that it can end the conflict and change its own circumstances.”
The debate, moderated by RSA Chief Executive Matthew Taylor, offered the opportunity for grassroots, academia, and the political elite to collect their thoughts on where things are headed in the Middle East at this uncertain time. The Rt. Hon. Dr. Denis MacShane MP, former British foreign office minister, and Dr. Claire Spencer, head of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Chatham House, rounded out the group of panelists.
The notion that Middle Eastern nations are ruled by nepotistic dictators is coming to a close. There is wide agreement among the populace that freedom is a fundamental human right of all peoples and their life, voice, and vote are more important than ever.
“Palestinians taught the Arab people how to take charge with the first intifada [uprising], but we need our brothers to remind us of our own power,” said Makhlouf. “The people are no longer willing to allow the elites to fail again and are taking their struggle against the occupation and for freedom to the streets.”
Dr. MacShane struck a note of caution by warning that grassroots activism – however well intentioned – still required responsible political leadership to produce tangible results. “The Arab Spring, I’m afraid… is lacking a clear political platform and true change will require resilient leadership,” he said.
“It’s been fantastic to have such a cross-section of opinion and analyses this evening,” said John Lyndon, executive director of OneVoice Europe. “For too long, this conflict has been trapped in grim certainties and crippling inertia. What we have heard this evening demonstrates that – perhaps for the first time in a generation – the ground beneath the feet of the political leadership is shifting. Moderates on both sides must now unite to ensure that their leaders respond bravely before this opportunity for transformational change is lost.”
OneVoice is an international grassroots movement that aims to amplify the voice of Israeli and Palestinian moderates, empowering them to demand a two-state solution. The movement educates and trains Israeli and Palestinian youth in leadership skills, non-violent activism, and democratic principles. To support and contribute to OneVoice, join us at www.onevoicemovement.org.
SOURCE: The OneVoice Movement
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