One Voice speaks clearly on a peaceful solution

By Jessica Elgot, May 19, 2011
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Uri Fishelson and Antwan Saca

Uri Fishelson and Antwan Saca

A Palestinian and an Israeli from peace group One Voice discussed the finer points of the conflict and a two-state solution with British high school students during a five-day visit.

Israeli Uri Fishelson, 27, and Palestinian Antwan Saca, 26, are leading lights in the movement, which aims to mobilise the "moderate majority" on both sides. Mr Fishelson ob-served that British teachers were cautious of discussing the conflict, fearing tensions among pupils.

"There were many people in our classes who say: 'Why can't they all just get along?' We need to show them there are a lot of complex issues to be worked out. That's why there isn't peace, but that there will be a compromise soon."

The two also met faith groups during an itinerary taking in London, Birmingham, Slough and Kent. A highlight was a ceremony with the Council of Christians and Jews at Westminster Abbey.

One Voice examines practical ways of bringing about the two-state solution, working in both Israel and the Palestinian territories with 4,000 youth leaders trained to front sessions on the conflict at "town hall meetings" for young people.

Mr Fishelson, whose cousin was severely injured in the 2006 Lebanon war, explained that One Voice leaders worked within their own communities, but consulted regularly.

"It's about understanding the narrative and issues of the other side, not necesasarily agreeing with them. The message was really in tune with my own ideas -it's very pragmatic. It's not just about empowering my own community, but knowing someone on the other side is doing the same thing."

Mr Saca, a Christian who described himself as "a nationalistic Palestinian", added: "This is not some hippy, left-wing love festival. But the Palestinians want their freedom and the Israelis want their state. We have to understand the views of the other side. Our grassroots leaders come from across the political and religious spectrum. We have members who are from Hamas, who are religious and conservative, but who denounce violence and support the two-state solution."

Last updated: 2:23pm, May 19 2011