Recently I wrote an article called The One Voice Movement’s misleading numbers, in which I argued that the organization’s ‘process’ was in essence an attempt to promote a specific political point of view. Daniel Lubetzky, the movement’s founder unsurprisingly disagrees, and I am presenting his response here, exactly as I have received it — ed.
By Daniel Lubetzky
The process being described is part of a highly lauded citizen movement and process endorsed and supported by everyone from Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to Palestinian President Abbas, moderates who recognize the need to engage Palestinian and Israeli citizens at the grassroots to think through these issues and work to achieve consensus on the key pillars for how to resolve this conflict.
The people on the Board of the Foundation that guides the OneVoice Movement include foremost Israeli leaders across an unprecedented spectrum of politics, from Likud to Labor, from Shas and Mafdal to Meretz, as well as Palestinians also across secular and religious strands.
Those who negotiated the initial version of the document that was first presented to the people include dozens of recognized experts, including members of the Israeli Knesset that were so hawkish that they opposed Ariel Sharon’s overtures. Specifically, former MK Mickey Ratzon from Likud spent till 1am one night across the door from Palestinian representatives like Imad Shakour. More details are available in the negotiations page of the movement’s website – www.OneVoiceMovement.org.
The process took 1 ½ years just to launch the first proposal, and has steadily continued for over 5 years now, with 150,000 citizens ACROSS a broad spectrum participating. Concerted efforts have been made in particular to go to refugee camps and villages to help people focus on concrete and constructive solutions, rather than armchair recriminations or complaints.
Of course these aim to be core pillars that citizens can agree on, not detailed negotiated agreements that must be reserved for elected representatives. Most of Victor’s comments are so neat picky and frail that they strengthen the wisdom contained in the proposals – which have indeed been endorsed by vast majorities from both sides. Remember these are complex issues and it is remarkable that such degree of precision can be achieved among the peoples – when the counterbalance is the wrong assumption
that there is no consensus among the people. Read the above again and contrast to the assumptions generally ferreted by the media or by partisan pundits that there is no area for consensus.
There is a valid concern and complaint, though, which is what I will acknowledge and give insight to:
The Refugees proposal is too general to have sufficient meaning. This is because the process, which is iterative and interactive, has not reached on this level a sufficient level of specificity. If you visit OneVoiceMovement.org and visit the VOTING section and look on the top left corner for a document titled the “Pocantico+ Reference Document” (or something close to that) you will find in proposal #13 the language that experts from the OneVoice Council of Experts feel that would be supported by both sides, but which the people need to get to in their own time as they work among citizens to try to achieve the acknowledgment that the refugee problem requires us to acknowledge the suffering of the Palestinians and the demographic concerns of the Israelis.
Indeed, even in this relatively weak proposal, what is strong is that Palestinians agreed to accept a formulation that began to acknowledge the issue would need to be resolved in a “practical manner” and that referred to the proposal in a neutral context as the “Refugee” issue as opposed to in the Palestinian language of “Right of Return”, while Israelis acknowledged that the refugee problem must be resolve in a humane, fair, and just manner, which began to acknowledge the suffering of the refugees.
That said, Vic, your effort to discredit the two-state solution proposal really discredits you. Think about it. This is such powerful and straightforward language. Broad supra-majorities of Israelis and Jews and broad supra-majorities of Palestinians and Arabs would be satisfied with this and would be surprised and elated to hear that it has broad support among both sides. Are you really saying that ensuring minority rights” is a weakness of the proposal? It is key for Israel as a Jewish State to ensure democratic rights for all its citizens, as is done in the US and in all enlightened countries. And Palestinians support the formula of Israel as a Jewish State partly because the formula acknowledges human rights for their Arab-Israeli cousins. They also undertake to respect their own minorities, which is what Israelis always ask for. It is a phenomenal and strong proposal.
Similarly with the formula for ending occupation and terror. It is designed to be unpleasant because it is designed to be realistic and teach both Israelis and Palestinians that if they want to end what bothers them, they need to understand it will require also that they help end what bothers the other side. This is reality. Again, this formula was negotiated ad nauseum by hawkish Israelis and hawkish Palestinians.
At the end, the important thing is to TAKE ACTION TO END THIS CONFLICT rather than allow Ahmadinejad and his proxies to turn this resolvable conflict into an eternal religious battleground, as he is seeking to achieve in Gaza. If the people on both sides do not take swift action to neutralize extremists, not only will we not be able to reverse the takeover from Hamas in Gaza, but their wrath and poison will spread throughout the region.