Fifteen Years in Search of Rabin's Legacy
On September 13, 1993, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin stood on the White House lawn alongside Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and said, "We wish to turn over a new chapter in the sad book of our lives together - a chapter of mutual recognition, of good neighborliness, of mutual respect, of understanding. We hope to embark on a new era in the history of the Middle East."
Fifteen years ago today, on November 4, 1995, that new chapter came to an abrupt and tragic end when two bullets struck Rabin's heart.
Most people remember exactly where they were when Rabin was assassinated.
When OneVoice Israel volunteers poured into Saturday's memorial in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square, they were not mourning a leader's murder; they were aspiring to uphold the promise he held.
While OneVoice Israel and OneVoice Palestine work independently to appeal to the national self-interest of their own societies, both advocate two states for two peoples and in this pursuit have found a partner in one another.
Every year that passes without an end to this conflict is another bullet in the heart of Rabin's legacy. When the leaderships fail, the people must be the driving force constantly propelling their political representatives to achieve a permanent peace agreement.
This newsletter is dedicated to OneVoice Israeli and Palestinian youth leaders who not only rise up to the challenge, but spend every day waging peace, building consensus, and empowering their communities to envision a future after the end of the conflict. Click on the names of the youth leaders below to read their stories. Check out a conversation with Mohammad Asideh and Eliran Eyal, both of whom are participating in the International Education Program's final tour of 2010, and mark your calendars.
The recent peace talks have been suspended now for longer than they lasted. What will it take to ensure that we do not lose another 15 years? The people - Israelis, Palestinians, and citizens worldwide - have an essential role to play.
The future is being created today. What will it look like?
Senior OV Israeli and Palestinian Youth Leaders
"I like to help children work through the tough experiences they've encountered. There are so many opportunities in this world that I don't want children in Palestine to be without, and I wish for them to take advantage of the opportunities I lacked. I want whatever they dream to be within the grasp of reality."
--Mohammad Asideh, Nablus
"I was shocked to learn that nearly three quarters of Palestinians wanted peace, and I felt like up until then I had been living a lie. From what I had heard in the media my whole life, I thought that the majority of Palestinians wanted to destroy the Jewish people. Being at the OneVoice's town hall meeting was the first time in my life that I understood we had a partner."
--Eliran Eyal, Ramat Gan
"We have a personal responsibility to end the conflict, and at OneVoice, my fellow youth leaders not only rise up to the challenge, but also motivate those around them to get involved. Our job is difficult, and we need the continued support of the international community, and specifically the U.S., to end the occupation and establish an independent Palestinian state, leading to a permanent agreement that guarantees security and peace for both sides."
--Ahmad Omeir, Bal'a, near Tulkarem
"Israelis and Palestinians each have their own interests in ending the conflict. We want a divorce, albeit amicably. It is futile to argue over the past, our present leaders need to negotiate the future, and it is our responsibility to get them to sit at the negotiation table."
--Danny Shaket, Netanya
"I am hoping to give American youth a wider perspective of the real situation on the ground in the Palestinian territories and prove that the majority of our youth still believe in a peaceful solution. I'd like to ask the U.S. students not to lose their faith in achieving a just agreement and keep pushing the American government... into making this possible."
--Arwa AbdelRahman, Ramallah
--Mika Veis, Tel Aviv
"I had to find something I could be a part of that can make change in Palestine, by working with the people and raising the voices of the moderates, who are the people that are never heard."
--Bissan Helou, Nablus
"I believe it is extremely important for Israelis and Palestinians to sit together and recognize that the other [side] has a valid narrative and voice. I realize that we will probably never agree with the other's narrative, but we don't need to. We must agree, however, on the need to stop fighting and start building a future."
--Shlomi Haar, Beer Sheva
OneVoice is an international grassroots movement that aims to amplify the voice of Israeli and Palestinian moderates, empowering them to seize back the agenda for conflict resolution and demand that their leaders achieve a two-state solution.
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