October 06, 2007

OneVoice, one million voices?

But what difference does it make if they all say the same thing? Last week the JC carried an article about OneVoice event.
Rabbi Tony Bayfield, the head of the Reform movement, had invited Mr Livingstone to organise an event in support of the group.

But in a letter, the Mayor wrote: “Unfortunately, it would not be permissible for me as Mayor of London to host such a meeting at City Hall.

“However, I would reiterate that I remain committed to supporting those who work for peace in the Middle East and who would advocate a viable, two-state solution.”

Rabbi Bayfield said: “I suspect that it is a way of saying he’d rather not do this. At least he has again, unequivocally and unreservedly, committed himself to the two-state solution and there must be some value in that.”

Supporters of OneVoice are due to hold a day of action in several cities across the world, including London, on October 18.
Now I read the article last week but I didn't have a clue what it was about. I did smell a rat when I saw that Tony Bayfield was involved. He is a zionist who is more than happy to conflate Jews with zionists and he has even said, in a Guardian article, that the state of Israel is to Jews what the gospel is to Christians. Actually this is what he said
My point is this: religions are not all the same. The textbooks which make them look the same by describing each at equal length, under neat chapter headings, grossly distort. Consider this thought: perhaps the Jewish attachment to land is as important to Jewish self-understanding as the need to share and spread the "good news" is central to Christianity.
At first glance it looks like he is saying that Israel is to Jews as the gospel is to Christians, as in "look, you have your book, we have our colonial settlement, ethnic cleansing and racist laws." But his mention of the Christian propensity to "share and spread the "good news" may have meant "you Christians have done ethnic cleansing so why shouldn't Jews." Read the rest of the article. It's a bit Howard Jacobson in that it tries to turn the whole of Jewish history into a history of zionism. It's a load of nonsense.

Ok, that was a bit of a digression but I wanted to point out that this guy will say pretty much anything that pops into his head to defend the zionist project, all the while being a supporter of two state, of course. Anyway, Ken Livingstone has responded to last week's JC article in this week's JC:
Your report on whether City Hall should host an event for OneVoice (Ken refuses to host OneVoice, September 28) does not reflect my views. Correspondence with Rabbi Bayfield on matters of concern to Jewish Londoners is cordial and constructive and I do not conduct my relations with him or other community leaders through the pages of newspapers.

A peaceful resolution of the situation in the Middle East would undoubtedly be of great benefit to good community relations in London.

To that end, I strongly support a peaceful solution to the situation in the Middle East, which requires that Israel withdraw from the territories it occupied in 1967 and the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside an Israeli state within secure borders.

The powers of the Greater London Authority in the field of international relations are limited by law. However, it is right and proper that we should support steps internationally which are of benefit to the people of London.
Is there anything between the lines here? I say that because I can't see how the original article didn't reflect Livingstone's views. Maybe I missed something or maybe Ken thinks that this OneVoice represents something incompatible with his own take on what a two state solution should be like.

Ok so let's take a look at OneVoice. This is their opening blurb:


See anything suspicious? Well did you? Ok, try this quote:
On October 18, 2007, OneVoice will hold the largest simultaneous mobilization of Israelis & Palestinians in the history of the region. Via live, internationally-broadcast public summits in Israel, Palestine, and in communities worldwide, One Million Voices to End the Conflict will give ordinary citizens a platform to voice their commitment to end violence, occupation and terror on both sides.
Ok then, if you missed the word "moderate" in the first blurb you might not have noticed the "commitment to end violence, occupation and terror on both sides." So this is a group of moderates who see "violence, occupation and terror on both sides." Not only that, these moderates get the blessing of an absolute monarch right there on the home page of their website. Yup, His Majesty King Abdullah II ibn al Hussein is a moderate among these moderates. No wonder Tony Bayfield is so enamoured of them and no wonder Ken wants to distance himself. Where does the funding come from for a group that has a video ad from a King? Never mind. Let's see what the Palestinian Campaign for an Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel has to say about this event booked for 18th October 2007.
On October 18th, One Million Voices, an organization led by Israelis and international figures with the support of some Palestinians, is organizing a public event in Jericho and Tel Aviv, simultaneously. The event will include performances by renowned artists Brian Adams and Ilham Madfa'i. As stated on the organization's English webpage, the objective of the event is to “mark the first time that massive numbers of Israelis and Palestinians gather simultaneously to unite against violent extremism.”

According to the widely accepted boycott criteria advocated by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), the event falls under the category of normalization projects and violates the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), endorsed by over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations, trade unions, political parties, and grassroots movements, for the following reasons:

1. Participants are required to join the One Voice Movement and sign a mandate -- ostensibly based on a "two-state solution," but without any commitment to international parameters -- which assumes equal responsibility of "both sides" for the "conflict," and suspiciously fails to call for Israel's full compliance with its obligations under international law through ending its illegal military occupation, its denial of Palestinian refugee rights (particularly the right of return), and its system of racial discrimination against its own Palestinian citizens.

2. The event is sponsored by Israeli institutions (mostly from the private sector) and endorsed by mainstream Israeli political figures from parties including the Likud, Labour and Shas. These Israeli "partners" are unquestionably complicit in maintaining Israel 's occupation and other forms of oppression.
Not happy then. I must say, I looked for OneVoice's "mandate" and I couldn't find it on the site. I can't find it. Can anyone else out there? Thanks if you can.

UPDATE: Thanks to Ernie in the comments for directing me to this.

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