An Israeli-Palestinian Agreement: Overcoming Chaos and Cynicism

In War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, Chris Hedges argues that conflict creates a common enemy, and from that we derive a sense of community, commonality, and shared interest. But what is going on in Israel and Palestine is no longer a conflict -- it is chaos. Chaos does not unify. Chaos only serves the most extreme elements of society that seek to destabilize any semblance of order to fulfill their selfish lust for power.

In contrast, peace is an act of enlightened self-interest. Peace is an idea born from hope and the desire to see your children raise a family, walk in a market, and engage in simple pleasures of everyday life without fear. A quest to end the conflict is what binds people like Yaniv Rivlin and Shadha Musallam.

As detailed in a Washington Times column last week, new hope has arrived thanks to many like Yaniv, a 25-year old former Israeli solider with a strong Zionistic upbringing, and Shadha, a 20-year old Palestinian whose family was "so close to Yasser Arafat that she considered him her godfather." What could ever compel these two to share the same cause? As Yaniv explained, "It's not about loving the other side."

For 40 years, Israeli and Palestinian citizens waited for their leaders to negotiate a resolution so they might live in peace. And for forty years, a top-down peace process failed to yield results. For this reason, OneVoice was established.

OneVoice takes a radically simple, rational approach, amplifying the voice of the overwhelming but silent majority who wish to end the conflict, and empowering ordinary citizens to demand accountability from elected representatives. To date, over half a million Israelis and Palestinians have signed the OneVoice Mandate calling on their heads of state to begin immediate, continuous negotiations until a resolution is achieved. But until this goal is reached and every silenced moderate voice joins the growing chorus, our work will continue.

To that end, on October 18th, OneVoice will mobilize hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and Israelis at People's Summits in Jericho and Tel Aviv, linked via satellite with parallel events in London, Ottawa, and Washington, D.C. Ordinary citizens will speak out in unprecedented numbers against violent extremism and demand that their leaders begin negotiations.

Admittedly, countless false starts and hard lessons trigger knee-jerk, instinctual cynicism whenever the prospect for peace between Israel and Palestine is referenced. Over decades we have all witnessed the domestic political stalemates, the international diplomatic shortcomings, and prolific violence endured on both fronts. Why should anything be different now? What great enjoinder will finally rally Israelis and Palestinians to peace? (The Economist asked these very questions two weeks ago -- and my response in The Economist is found here.)

This is a seductive but dangerous line of reasoning. There is a natural apprehension to visualize peace. What if our hopes end unfulfilled? What if we fail? With so much violence, such a history of conflict, it is easier to sign off.

But we do not have the luxury of inaction. For every day we do not march onward to build a coalition of moderates to end the conflict, forces of fatalism and apocalyptic absolutism -- from Ahmadinejad to Al Qaeda -- prey on our divisions and gain a deeper foothold in our minds and our world.

We will prevail because we must.

Soon, on the opposite side of a television screen, real people will demand an end to the conflict that delivers more than diplomats shaking hands. Their simple and unified plea is to raise a generation unlike themselves -- a generation that will know peace. To do so, they must become their greatest generation, unlike any other: they must raise their cry for peace and stand firm in the face of violent extremism and dismissive cynicism.

I invite you to listen. And to join us. OneVoice leads to One Million Voices To End The Conflict.

Daniel Lubetzky is the Founder of the OneVoice Movement. Learn more about OneVoice and their October 18th People's Summits at www.onemillionvoices.org.