Palestine and Israel: Back and Forth

Today the University of San Francisco School of Law International Law Society hosted a panel discussion by the One Voice movement.

Making the potentially volatile mix even more so, Persian food was served.

One voice is an international organization wishing to create a greater focus on the moderate voices within Israel and the Occupied Territories.

One Voice is distinct in that they are non-partisan comprising membership across religious and political sides. Neither are the solutions proposed strictly political. One Voice seeks to bring about a resolution through dialog.

The driving force of the movement comes from the youth who are trained in debate, public speaking, organization and community building.

Among the speakers was a young man from Hebron who spoke out the hardship's suffered by Palestinians who suffer expropriation of businesses and land by Jewish settlers. His own father's shop and clothing factory was expropriated by the Israeli military.

Bashir found as a young man that he must resist the occupation because "it takes all we have, it takes our dreams, it takes all we are willing to be in the future." He felt, however, a social obligation not only to end the occupation but also to differentiate between the Israeli occupation and Israeli citizenship and pledged himself to non-violent resistance. As such, he and One Voice participated in the campaign to differentiate Fatah from Hamas.

Bashir ended his talk by stating that the recent events in Tunisia and Egypt shows that optimistic, youth-based action can change everything - "You are the future leaders, you are the ones who can change the situations" he ended.

A young Jewish man, Tomer, testified that though he grew up only 20 kilometers from Palestinian villagers he never saw a Palestinian except migrant workers in the fields and hate-filled terrorists on television.

When he became 18 he joined the Israeli Defense Force through his compulsory service. Following the deaths of two of his classmates by a terrorist bomb he was filled with the desire to fight. He was put on checkpoint duty and this was what humanized Palestinians for him. Kalashnikovs and bombs were replaced by pregnant women and children going to school.

After the shattering of his own prejudices, he joined One Voice in order to shatter the prejudices of others.

However, he emphasized, that being moderate and unprejudiced is without value absent action to effectuate moderation.