Activists seek two-state solution to Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Two women activists from Israel and Palestine came to NYU to speak about their experiences in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and their roles in peacebuilding measures abroad.

Elanit Green and Malaka Samara are representatives of OneVoice, an international organization that supports and works toward creating a two-state solution to end the conflict.

The organization, which collaborated with the International Relations Society at NYU, works out of offices in the West Bank, Gaza and Israel.

“We find ordinary citizens that are ready to live with peace and security and work to give them the skills to really push their leaders to re-enter the negotiating process,” said Shaina Low, international engagement program associate of OneVoice International.

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Though most of OneVoice’s work takes place in Israel and Palestine, the North American branch has organized events at colleges throughout New York and Southern California in April.

“We host international events because we want … to amplify the voices of our activists and the voices within civil society,” said Rachel Steinberg, international engagement program director of OneVoice. “This is important because it can be easy for Americans to feel as though there’s no progress being made.”

Alex Kamath, co-president of the International Relations Society, said this was not the first time the club has featured high-profile speakers. Previously the Indian Consul General of New York and Carl Wilkens, the last humanitarian aid worker to leave Rwanda during the 1994 genocide, came to speak at NYU.

“This is part of a progression of speakers aimed at bringing positive attention to NYU and the IR society,” said Kamath.

Green said she became motivated to help work towards a solution after she began studying at Ben-Gurion University in the Israeli city of Beersheba.

“Growing up, I was never critical of what Israel did and … I only knew one side of the story,” Green said.

“But when I got to university, I started learning a little more about what was going on with the conflict and what life is like for Palestinians. So I started looking for a political movement that actually matched what I came to believe.”


Billy Richling is a staff writer. Email him at [email protected]

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2 COMMENTS

  1. We all want peace, and yet, after more than a century of
    conflict, the struggle between these two related nations remains more intractable
    than ever. Why?

    Because each side is entrenched in its own narrative, to the
    exclusion of the other’s.

    Its faults notwithstanding, one must admit that Israel has
    taken some steps since the Oslo Accords toward acknowledging the Palestinian
    suffering. These steps are reflected in school books, in the media, and through
    other informational outlets. The Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza, for instance,
    are now referred to as “Palestinians,” and most Israelis would like to see a
    Palestinian state emerge. The fact that Israeli voters don’t reflect these
    wishes has to do with fears of surface-to-air missiles two miles from
    Ben-Gurion International Airport, and scarred memories of blown-up buses and
    pizzerias.

    The Palestinians, unfortunately, have done little to allay
    Israeli fears. While Palestinians clamor for the removal of onerous checkpoints
    and barriers, militant attempts to penetrate these barriers and attack Israeli
    civilians have not ceased at all since the second Intifada. Similarly, school
    books and speeches, in Arabic, have grown radical, to the point of portraying
    Israel’s very existence as a crime. Little has been done to acknowledge and
    stop rejecting the Jewish roots in Palestine.

    The fact is that the Jewish presence in Palestine goes much
    farther back than most Palestinians, as well as Arabs and Muslims in general, would
    be willing to admit.

    Before 1948, Palestine was ruled by a series of empires.
    Before that Palestine was Judaea—a Jewish country. Jews have lived in Palestine
    continuously for more than 3,300 years. “Palestine” was the name
    given to the Jewish homeland in the second century by the Romans, in an attempt
    to break the Jewish adherence to the land. This was a century after the Jewish
    temple was destroyed and more than a million Jews were massacred.

    The Jews stopped fighting the Romans only after they had no
    more fighting men standing. As Evangelist William Eugene Blackstone put it in
    1891, “The Jews never gave up their title to Palestine… They never abandoned
    the land. They made no treaty, they did not even surrender. They simply
    succumbed, after the most desperate conflict, to the overwhelming power of the
    Romans.”

    The Jews persisted through the centuries under the various
    empires, after the Arab invasion of 635AD (which they fought alongside the
    Byzantines), and after the Crusade massacres of the 11th Century, which
    decimated much of their population. They never stopped returning, and their
    numbers recovered. In the 19th century, before the Zionist immigration, Jews
    constituted the largest religious group in Jerusalem.

    Few Palestinians realize that Jewish customs, religion,
    prayers, poetry, holidays, and virtually every walk of life, documented for
    thousands of years—all revolve around Judaea/Palestine/Israel. For thousands of
    years Jews have been praying for Jerusalem in every prayer, after every meal,
    in every holiday, at every wedding, in every celebration. The whole Jewish
    religion is about Jerusalem and the Land of Israel. Western expressions such as
    “The Promised Land,” and “The Holy Land,” did not pop out of void. They have
    been part of Western knowledge and tradition dating back to the beginning of
    Christianity and earlier.

    After the Crusades, the Jews—including many who have
    returned over the centuries—lived peacefully with Arabs, often in the very same
    villages, as in Pki’in, in the Galilee, until the Zionist immigration of the
    19th and 20th Centuries. Article 6 of the PLO Charter specifically calls for
    the acceptance of all Jews present in Palestine prior to the Zionist
    immigration. These Jews were simply another ethnic group in a region composed
    of Sunnis, Shiites, Jews, Druz, Greek Orthodox, Catholics, Circassians,
    Samarians, and more. Some of these groups, like the Druz, Circassians,
    Samarians, and an increasing number of Christians, are actually loyal to the Jewish
    State.

    Incidentally, genetic studies consistently show that Zionist
    immigrants (a.k.a., Ashkenazi Jews) are closely related to groups that predate
    the Arab conquest, like the Samarians, who have lived in Palestine for
    thousands of year.

    Palestinian denial of these facts may lead to events such as
    the ones brilliantly depicted in Jonathan Bloomfield’s award-winning thriller,
    “Palestine.”

    If, as the current Palestinian narrative goes, the Jews are
    not a people indigenous to Palestine but rather an invading foreign colonialist
    body, then they must be fought until they are removed from this land. Anything
    short of that, by any standard, would be injustice.

    Thus, war and bloodshed will continue until the Palestinians
    stop denying the Jewish narrative, and the fact that Jewish roots in Palestine date
    back thousands of years, long before the Arab invasion.

  2. Israel should honestly relent more on the Palestinians, I sympathize with them historically, my birth nation went through a lot in the war also, but honestly…

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