One Voice International (OVI)

One Voice International (OVI)


* Contends that a large “centrist mainstream” of “average citizens on each side” favor a negotiated two-state solution which would allow “Israel and Palestine” to live side-by-side, in peace
* Advocates “the 1967 borders” as “the basis” for the boundaries of “an independent, economically viable state of Palestine”

A project of the Peaceworks Foundation, One Voice International (OVI) is an international grassroots initiative that was established in 2002 by social entrepreneur Daniel Lubetzky and several Palestinian and Israeli colleagues. Working from the premise that while a certain amount of “violent extremism persists on both sides” of the Arab-Israeli conflict, OVI contends that a much larger “centrist mainstream” of “average citizens on each side” favor a negotiated two-state solution which would allow “Israel and Palestine” to live side-by-side, in peace. Contrary to OVI’s assertion, however, polling data has consistently shown that large majorities of Palestinian Muslims in fact support suicide bombings, violent jihad, the slaughter of Jews, and the eradication of Israel. For examples of such polls, click here, here, and here.

OVI promotes its two-state ideal by means of public campaigns, media outreach, and targeted legislative initiatives. Notably, the organization advocates “the 1967 borders” as “the basis” for the boundaries of “an independent, economically viable state of Palestine,” which—by OVI’s telling—“can only be a benefit to its neighbors.” Click here and here for a historical background of the 1967 borders and their implications vis à vis Israeli national security.

OVI’s two principal branches are One Voice Israel, headquartered in Tel Aviv, and One Voice Palestine, based in Ramallah and Gaza City. Each of these branches is far more inclined to blame Israel, rather than the Palestinians, for whatever conflicts emerge between the two sides. OV Israel, for instance, derides what it calls the “dangerous levels of apathy, cynicism, and disinterest in the two-state solution among the Israeli public.”

Meanwhile, OV Palestine laments that the Palestinians, after decades of “occupation” by Israel, continue to “live in a constant state of fear, distress, insecurity, and disbelief in the viability of a peace agreement,” causing them to adopt attitudes of “hopelessness and cynicism rather than determination and activism.” OV Palestine’s “The Land Is Ours” campaign—whose logo is an image of a Palestinian man’s body that is growing, like a tree, out of a network of roots that extend deeply into the soil—condemns Israel’s “expansion of settlements” in the West Bank.

When Israel in 2012 conducted a military operation against Hamas terrorists in Gaza who had been launching relentless waves of rocket attacks on Israeli towns and cities, OV Palestine executive director Samer Makhlouf characterized Israel’s action as “the war on Gaza.” Moreover, he emphasized the need for “massive activities on the ground to protect Palestinians’ national rights, unite all Palestinians behind one political agenda carried out by the PLO, and reach a just and comprehensive peace agreement that preserves our Palestinian rights.”

One of OVI’s major initiatives is its Youth Leadership Program, which helps young Israeli and Palestinian activists develop the organizational skills necessary “to mobilize the moderate non-violent majority in their communities.” From its 2005 launch through the end of 2014, this program produced more than 6,000 graduates.

On February 16, 2014, OV Israel transported more than 300 Israeli students to Ramallah for “a groundbreaking meeting” with Palestinian Authority (PA) president (and Fatah founder) Mahmoud Abbas, who, by OV Israel’s telling, is committed to the best interests of “the centrist majority of both Israelis and Palestinians.” In August 2014, One Voice sponsored an “Abbas not Hamas” campaign in support of the PA leader, whose son Yasser Mahmoud Abbas sits on OVI’s honorary board along with Saeb Erekat, a Palestinian Authority government minister.

While OVI’s work is “concentrated in Israel and Palestine,” the organization also has branches titled One Voice United States (OVUS) and One Voice Europe (OVE), which engage policymakers, legislators, think tanks, and advocacy organizations in their respective locales. OVUS staff, for instance, maintain regular contact with the White House, the State Department, and Congress.

The CEO of the One Voice Movement Foundation is Marc Ginsburg, who has served in various political and diplomatic capacities for such prominent Democrats as Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and John Kerry.

A key board member of OVI is Faisal Abdul Rauf, the Muslim cleric who sought to build the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” in New York. And the Movement’s “Entertainment Councilincludes such luminaries as Jason Alexander, Danny Devito, Joel Fields, Ed Norton, and Brad Pitt.

In 2011, OVI paid $96,000 to Howard Sumka, who, while serving as the West Bank and Gaza mission director for US Aid, was instrumental in providing $1 million in American funding to a Hamas-run university in the Gaza Strip. OVI also has made a number of annual donations to the American Task Force on Palestine, which demands a Palestinian right-of-return as a precondition for any peace agreement with Israel.

One Voice holds Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in extreme contempt, as evidenced by OVI founder Daniel Lubetzky’s assertion that Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy—who has defended Hamas and called for a boycott against Israel—was “precisely right” in describing Netanyahu as an “extremist” peddler of “fear and hate.” In early 2015, OVI bankrolled the Israeli group V-2015 and its effort to defeat Netanyahu’s bid for reelection. Toward that end, OVI flew a team of five former campaign operatives of Barack Obama—including Jeremy Bird, who served as a national field director for Obama’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns—to help run V-2015’s activities out of a Tel Aviv office building. As part of this anti-Netanyahu effort, OVI paid for hundreds of people to go door-to-door and try to influence voters throughout Israel.

Notably, there was a clear financial link between OVI’s anti-Netanyahu efforts and the Obama State Department. As The Times of Israel reports: “[T]he State Department gave grants totaling $349,276 to One Voice’s Israeli and Palestinian branches ‘to support peace negotiations’ over a 14-month grant period that ended in November 2014. After that period, the organizational infrastructure created with these funds was used by V15 [V-2015], a group that actively called on Israel’s to vote for ‘anyone but Bibi [Netanyahu]’ during [the 2015] general election.”

As of February 2015, nearly 750,000 people had formally signed on as supporters of OVI’s two-state solution and related agendas.

The aforementioned Peaceworks Foundation (PF)—a recipient of State Department funding and a key financial backer of OVI—came under scrutiny in February 2015 in the aftermath of a January congressional letter suggesting that PF’s efforts to help OVI unseat Netanyahu in Israel may have been in violation of U.S. tax law. At issue was the fact that PF’s status as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit legally precluded it from engaging in foreign or domestic political campaign activities; thus the Foundation’s funding of OVI’s anti-Netanyahu efforts were illegal. In response to the congressional letter, PF quickly created a new organization, PeaceWorks Action Inc. (PWA), which was free to spend money—including funds derived from PF—on whatever political matters it wished to support.

OVI is also funded by a host of other foundations, corporations, individuals, and governments—Israeli, Palestinian, and international. Among these funders—or “partners,” as One Voice calls them—are the Association of British Muslims, British Muslims for a Secular Democracy, the Christian Muslim Forum, the Ford Foundation, Google, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the New Israel Fund, the Righteous Persons Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the U.S. State Department, and the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation. For a more comprehensive listing of OVI’s funding partners, click here.

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