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Sumud: One Million Voices for real peace in Israeli and Palestinian societies

10/18/2007

The most important Middle East event of October 2007 may be an event that didn't happen. Today was to be the day of simultaneous "summit" concerts around the world by the One Million Voices initiative to dramatize the will of the Israeli and Palestinian people for a peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This event, planned well before anyone knew there would be a November peace summit, was serendipitously timed to boost the failing cause of peace, and raise the rather meager chances that this summit will be a success.

The petition that Palestinians, Israelis and others (you) are asked to sign at One Million Voices recommends no particular political solution. It just urges the Israeli and Palestinian leadership to negotiate in earnest until an agreement is reached.

Yet this simple and honest expression of the yearning for peace was too much for the hoodlums of the Electronic Intifada, ISM and the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. Quite simply put, they are against peace, because it would put them out of business. Therefore, they and their terror groupie friends undertook a campaign of intimidation and lies, that resulted first in the cancellation of the One Million Voices event in Jericho, and then in cancellation of all the events in solidarity. Instead, the terror groupies will hold their own "Another Voices" event, attended by all the so called "progressives," warmongers in sheeps' clothing, who are against any sort of equitable peace settlement.

The significance of this non-event, is a sorry demonstration that there is no viable political will for peace in Palestinian society. Most discouraging of all, is the silence of moderate Palestinian leadership. The November summit was an event planned to bolster the authority of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, to give Palestinians a real political horizon, and show that Abbas's Fateh movement has world support and can provide a more attractive future for Palestinians than the refusal front led by the Hamas. But the Palestinian leadership has not organized any demonstrations in support of peace, and it won't lift its finger to protect those who wanted to take a stand for peace. If a government cannot protect the right of its supporters to demonstrate, then what sort of government is it? Or perhaps Abbas's government in fact fears peace?

Daniel Lubetzky, principle organizer of the One Million Voices event, is not giving up, and neither are One Voice staffers:

In Ramallah earlier today, Ibrahim, our Director of Leadership Outreach, mentioned a lot of the activists (we have a network of 1,800 youth leaders across Palestine) were complaining why we were not being more assertive with the campaign by fringe groups trying to slander OneVoice Palestine, and why we allowed threats from the fringes to derail the will of the majority.

I was inspired.

...

OneVoice Canada is also proceeding with a solidarity event on Thursday, not music, but a strong show of forces of political supporters across all party lines, including the Prime Minister.

...

We are also renewing our signature drive campaign across Israel and Palestine to reach one million members urging Immediate Negotiations, Uninterrupted Till the Conclusion of A Two-State-Agreement. 600k here. 400k to go...

We can hope it will happen. But Canadians and Americans cannot bring peace between Palestinians and Israelis, only Israelis and Palestinians can do that. If One Voice Palestinian staffers are calling for more assertiveness, it is because they understand the Middle East. It is not California or Chicago or New York here. If One Million Voices do not assert themselves, "Another Voice" will assert itself, as it has asserted itself for a hundred years. It is a voice that chants, "Rights, justice, apartheid, history, death to traitors, there are no Jews, there are no Palestinians, Nakba, God gave, All of Israel, All of Palestine, international legitimacy, our land is holy, no compromise..." accompanied by a very loud and persistent and persuasive counterpoint: "Boom, boom, boom kaboom." If One Million Voices is not more assertive, the boom of the bombs will drown them out once again.

Opinion polls show that most Israelis do not support the minimum compromises that might be required for a solution of the conflict, and most Palestinians do not either. Israelis are not willing to give up Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem. Palestinians are not willing to give up right of return of refugees.

Ziad abu Ziad has written about the importance of public opinion in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is almost right. But his perspective is that public opinion is only a useful and necessary adjunct, something for leaders to tend do as an afterthought. It is not so. Public opinion must drive the peace process, just as until now it has driven the war process. The truth is that real political power in Palestinian society belongs to those who do not want peace and never wanted peace. If that is not so, then how come there are no One Million Voices events today? Why is it possible for hundreds of thousands to gather to praise a suicide bomber, but it is not possible to gather in order to ask for peace? What sort of democracy is that?

Peace will not begin to come until the Palestinian street is made safe for moderate opinion, until Palestinians are willing to assert their rights in the face of their own extremists, just as Israelis and Palestinians are ready to face the Israeli army at Bil'in. Peace will not begin to come until a revitalized Israeli peace movement can honestly call on Israeli patriots to stand up to extremists in Israeli society. Peace cannot be prefabricated in USA or Europe and imported. It must be made here, by our peoples. We have allowed political leadership to be hijacked by opportunists and hoodlums. We have allowed the peace movement to be hijacked by dogmatists who are more interested in their slogans than they are in peace. It is time to take back the streets and the political arena.

There is hope. Watch the One Voice Presentation hosted by Yahoo. You will be convinced that there is a genuine will for peace in both Israeli and Palestinian society - a non-ideological movement, as yet without political clout, but a movement which understands, as Nisreen Shaheen tells us, that we will only achieve our goals "with insistence and determination." Sumud, sister Nisreen, Sumud. This slogan has been used by the anti-peace forces, who have degraded it. Let us adopt it as our own. It means, "steadfastness."

Sign the One Million Voices declaration, pass this message on, and start thinking seriously, "What am I willing to do for peace?"

Ami Isseroff

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Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000633.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to mew-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.

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