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YPFP DC: Youth Pursuing Peace in Palestine and Israel
Please join us for a respectful, informative off-the-record discussion. RSVP via YPFP.org required.
YPFP is pleased to partner with OneVoice for a special discussion on Israeli and Palestinian young professionals aligning civic, economic, religious, and diplomatic sectors to build positive facts on the ground in pursuit of peace. This initiative, led by OneVoice, is already gaining momentum. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and President Mahmoud Abbas gave their official blessing; Tony Blair agreed to co-chair our European Board; former Israeli UN Ambassador Danny Gillerman and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert pledged firm support, as well as a few dozen other dignitaries, business leaders and community organizers.
Two representatives from OneVoice Palestine and OneVoice Israel, Wasim Almasri and Tom Bar Gal, will join YPFP members to share their motivations for their work with OneVoice and will share anecdotes from the groundbreaking activism that they’re engaged in on the ground. They will also speak about the ongoing challenges to resolving the conflict, but the important and hopeful role that young activists play through their grassroots work to overcome these obstacles. Given the many transitions taking place in the region, and OneVoice’s experience in the past ten years, Wasim and Tom will speak about their vision of where future opportunities for Israeli-Palestinian conflict resolution lie.
OneVoice is an international movement operating in parallel in Israel and Palestine and with offices in Tel Aviv, Ramallah, Gaza, London, and New York. OneVoice works to bridge the gap between the people and the political process, and propel the elected officials towards an end to the occupation and a two-state solution based on the 1967 line and international resolutions. Since being founded in 2002, OneVoice has focused on equipping grassroots activists with skills to build support for the two-state solution in their own communities, and has engaged over 4,500 youth leaders between the ages of 18-35 to become change agents. Through 26 chapters across Israel and Palestine, our youth leaders are empowered to drive all activities, from town hall meetings that build consensus for tough compromises, to public awareness campaigns that underscore the urgency of a peace agreement, to initiatives that pressure political leaders.
Wasim Almasri, 31, is the Communications Officer for OneVoice Palestine. He first became involved in OneVoice in 2011 as a volunteer through OneVoice’s Youth Leadership Training Program, through which he gained skills in public speaking, negotiation, and grassroots and political organizing. It was during this time that Wasim realized the strength in OneVoice’s methodology to empower the majorities on both sides to engage in non-violent activism to achieve a sustainable peace agreement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As a result, Wasim, joined by hundreds of fellow young leaders, has helped organize and participated in grassroots campaigns such as the creation of the first Palestine Peace Park by the planting of 1,000 trees in Area C and OneVoice Palestine’s Town Hall Meetings to connect average citizens with local political leaders to discuss the importance of the UN bid for statehood. Wasim also leads OneVoice Palestine in traditional and social media campaigns.
Tom Bar-Gal, 26, is a Regional Coordinator with OneVoice Israel. Tom works in the northern part of Israel to coordinate OneVoice Israel’s youth chapters and provide support to activists as they organize and carry out campaigns, town hall meetings, and other educational and advocacy events. Tom first joined OneVoice in 2011 when, as a student studying politics at the University of Haifa, he was looking to be actively involved in achieving an end to the conflict, rather than watching passively as it continued. He ultimately went on to lead Haifa’s OneVoice chapter, and in this role organized lectures at the university to engage students in a discussion about the two-state solution and why it is urgent to achieve. He has also taken part in trainings on negotiation and debate with Debate Mate, led sessions for high school students on compromises around the final status issues, and participated in campaigns that seek to wake people up from their apathy, such as demonstrations in the summer of 2012 to support a settlement freeze and draw the connection between economic concerns and the price of the ongoing conflict.
Scott Weiner, Moderator, is chair of YPFP's Middle East Discussion Group and a doctoral student in political science at The George Washington University. His dissertation analyzes tribal politics in the Israel and the Arab Gulf, and is based on prior field work in Israel with the Negev Bedouin. Prior to beginning his studies, Scott worked in the think tank and private sectors as a research analyst on Iraq. His writing appears in the Diplomatic Courier, Small Wars Journal, GlobalSecurity.org, and the political science blogs Monkey Cage and Duck of Minerva.