When Another Voice first took issue with OneVoice’s program and planned concerts, our concerns were based on OneVoice’s 10 pillars, which are problematic for a number of reasons; we were troubled by the methods in which OneVoice was seeking to collect signatures in support of their platform, e.g. offering a free concert ticket to those who gave their signature; and we were disturbed by the idea of another high profile peace event that distorted the reality of what is happening on the ground in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. We did not care to demonize the individuals behind OneVoice, nor did we assume bad intentions on their part. However, we were, and continue to be concerned with simplistic, high profile initiatives that equate the occupier with the occupied, and that do not recognize Israel’s ongoing violations of international law, including gross violations of Palestinian human rights, which are the reasons behind the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian “conflict.”
Since we publicized our concerns and joined the calls initiated by PACBI and other Palestinian grassroots organizations to boycott the event, OneVoice and its founder Daniel Lubetzsky, have engaged in a series of spiteful attacks against us, attempting to discredit our voices with exaggerations, unfounded accusations, and lies.
Below are our responses to some of OneVoice’s accusations:
• Mr. Lubetzsky has labeled critics of his group “extremists”, but the criticism of OneVoice comes from people who have been dedicated and hardworking supporters of Palestinian rights for years. We are Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals, all of whom have spent the post-Oslo period working for real change for the benefit of everyone in the region. Martin Luther King and Gandhi were labeled as extremists and provocateurs by the “moderates” that supported the discriminatory regimes that their movements threatened.
• Lubetzsky has claimed that Palestinians were duped into opposing OneVoice’s event by foreign activists. In fact, the initial call to boycott came from Palestinians. We, Palestinians are not stupid and are perfectly capable of assessing for ourselves which options are desirable and which are not. We decided to oppose this event because we didn’t feel the event’s message best expressed what was in our interests.
• Lubetzky cited “security concerns” and “extremist ideologies” in his decision to cancel the Jericho concert. However, 5 of the 8 main performers withdrew from the event before its cancellation. Similarly, President Mahmoud Abbas and Bishop Attallah Hanna asked for their names to be removed from anything to do with the event before its cancellation. The Palestinian security services affirmed that they were fully prepared to provide security for the event and that no one has ever cancelled an event because of concerns over security. The truth is that the event fell apart after grassroots nonviolent Palestinian mobilization opposing an event that falsely claimed to represent our interests.
• OneVoice does not talk about future agreements being rooted in international law or international human rights standards and mentions neither in its literature. It also does not distinguish between occupier and occupied, it does not mention the right of Palestinian refugees to return, and it doesn’t object to Israel’s annexation and segregation wall. It staunchly pushes the concept of two-states, not acknowledging that many present configurations of the two-state model are deeply problematic for Palestinian rights.
• OneVoice says that it is committed to combating extremism, but it appears that it limits itself to Palestinian “extremism.” OneVoice ceased its petition drive in Gaza after Hamas took over leadership there, but continues to boast that members of Israel’s Likud, Shas and the National Religious Party (the settler party) sit on its board.
• OneVoice claims nonpartisanship and no hidden agenda, yet Lubetzky’s statements indicate otherwise. For example, statements such as, “What is happening in Gaza and Iran should scare all of us. Either we will defeat them or they will defeat us” are unacceptable. A genuine attempt to work towards peace would promote the unity of the Palestinian people, not attempt to divide and/or isolate any segment of our population.
• OneVoice has claimed that its critics are opponents of peace. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are interested in a real and lasting peace based on equality, human rights and justice, all of which are obfuscated by OneVoice’s slogany approach to conflict resolution.
The actions of Mr. Lubetzky have led us to seriously question his and OneVoice’s desire to advance the cause of true peace. As Palestinians, we are weary of flowery talk about peace that only serves to distort the truth of what is happening on the ground. We cannot sing about peace as Israel continues to steal our land and water resources, build settlements, construct the wall, demolish our homes, push us into smaller and smaller cantons, carry out raids in our cities, towns and villages, arrest our brothers and sisters, and deny our children education. We don’t oppose true peace initiatives; quite the opposite; we have long been calling on Israel to cease such provocative and damaging actions so that we can really talk about living in peace together. But we are not willing to take part in another façade like Oslo, which gave the world the impression that there was a peace process in progress all the while that Israel was cementing its occupation. Mr. Lubetzky, OneVoice, and anyone who is genuinely interested in a just and lasting peace for Israelis, Palestinians, and all children of the region are called upon to join efforts to pressure Israel to comply with international law.
As for the Jericho and Tel Aviv concerts and to those who lament their cancellation, we ask: When South African whites wanted to maintain control of the majority and the strategic areas in South Africa and give the blacks self rule in others, would a “peace” concert have been organized to support this initiative?
We strongly advise OneVoice to integrate into its platform that any negotiations must be premised on equality, respect for human rights, and the implementation of international law. By advocating for negotiations without a strong emphasis on guarantees of human rights and international law, OneVoice is simply supporting the efforts of the stronger powers, Israel and the US, to impose their will on the weaker Palestinian side, forcing Palestinians to accept an unjust and therefore unsustainable settlement.