Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

The Role of Youth in Ending the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

The Role of Youth in Ending the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Article excerpt

Two OneVoice youth activists, one Israeli and the other Palestinian, spoke on Sept. 22 at the Case Foundation Washington, DC offices of Buxton Initiative, an organization of Muslims, Christians and Jews who are dedicated to building understanding and dialogue among their communities. OneVoice is an international grassroots movement that amplifies the voices of mainstream 18- to 34-year-old Israelis and Palestinians who are demanding a two-state solution.

Eyal Shapira, a student at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a youth leader from OneVoice Israel (OVI), first spoke about his experience growing up in Mevaseret Tsiyon, a small town west of Jerusalem. When he was 15 years old, he recalled, the second intifada broke out, following Ariel Sharon's trip to Haram al-Sharif, also known as the Temple Mount. Shapira said two major attacks affected his community and "put fear in all of Israeli citizens." Eyal explained that "every household had the same dilemma, which was whether we should stop our life waiting for the attacks to pass or whether we should keep on living our lives."After having seen the effects these attacks had on his community, Eyal said he believes that "we cannot keep on counting the victims on both sides" but instead "we should take things into our own hands." The government is not affected, but the people on the ground, the civilians, are the victims. This became his primary motivation to work for OneVoice.

His views about the effects of this conflict were reinforced when he served with the Israel Defense Forces for three years as a soldier in the West Bank and Lebanon. He explained that his experience as a soldier, where he went "into Palestinian villages, seeing how the situation affects the lives of the Palestinians, only served to strengthen the feeling that we are all the victims of this conflict."

Eyal has been working with OneVoice on several events to spread the word about border agreements between Israel and Palestine, as well as the Palestinian bid for U.N. admission as a state and the reactions of the Israeli government. He said he feels that "the audience that came to these types of conferences left the event much more optimistic, and got a much more complex look about the situation."

His fellow panelist, Obada Shtaya, a 20-year-old with OneVoice Palestine studying at An-Najah National University in Nablus, shared his experience as a Palestinian. …

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