A left-wing group labeling those opposed to a PLO state “extremists” cancelled its events in Jericho and Tel Aviv after other leftist and Arab groups deemed it not radical enough.
Israel’s increasingly anti-Zionist left-wing, together with the People’s Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror group, brought about the cancellation of concerts organized by the One Voice group, which seeks the establishment of a PA state and the destruction of Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria.
A coalition of groups complained that One Voice does not sufficiently condemn Israeli “war crimes” and “violations of international law” and leaves out the “right of return” in its amorphous platform.
One Voice seeks, through celebrity endorsements and high-profile concerts and events, to collect the signatures of one million Israeli and PA Arab “moderates,” paving the way to a permanent status agreement it hoped would be reached at the upcoming Annapolis Conference. The group defines anybody who wishes to see “two states for two peoples” in the Land of Israel as a moderate. “Ending the conflict can only be achieved through a two-state-solution, according to all Palestinian and Israeli scholars and officials who have sought to truly negotiate and achieve an agreement,” its web site states. All others are labeled “extremists.”
The group itself claims to be a “mainstream nationalist grassroots movement with over 584,000 (as of 10/13/2007) Israeli and Palestinian members.” The definition of membership is filling out a ten-second online form endorsing the two-state formulation and renouncing “extremism.” Filling out the form was a requirement in advance of the free concerts offered by the group.
The group planned to gain signatures for its initiative through high-profile simultaneous concerts in Jericho and Tel Aiv. Concertgoers were to be allowed entry only after signing the group's petition.
A campaign by leftists groups and PFLP terrorists, however, forced them to cancel the concerts, according to the group. The organizations founder told the Associated Press that One Voice received threats that their Judea/Samaria office would be blown up if the concert went on as planned.
The Campaign Against One Voice
Ben White, a columnist for the British newspaper The Guardian, explained why he opposed One Voice: “Strikingly, the Tel Aviv concert was scheduled to take place in HaYarkon Park - the same location where, almost 60 years ago, the Palestinian village of Jarisha was wiped off the map by Jewish armed forces.”
There is increasing friction between left-wing groups that call for Israeli withdrawals up to the pre-1967 borders and those who deny the legitimacy of a Jewish State. The latter groups consider Tel Aviv to be “occupied territory” and demand to allow the entry of millions of descendents of Arabs that fled the region during the 1948 War of Independence.
ISM Founder Campaigns Against ‘One Voice’
Neta Golan, one of the founders of the International Solidarity Movement, spearheaded the effort to induce One Voice to take an even more anti-Israel stance. Golan volunteered herself as a human shield to protect Yasser Arafat and has repeatedly interfered with IDF counter-terror operations. She herself documented an attempt to act as a human shield for the killers of Tourism Minister Rechavam Ze’evi during an IDF operation to apprehend them from a Jericho jail.
An email sent by Golan to Israeli groups read: “One Voice is an organization who's [sic] platform among other things that supports: the annexation of the settlement blocs and the recognition of Israeli sovereignty over Jewish ‘areas’(meaning settlements) in Jerusalem. Declaring a ‘Palestinian state’ on the isolated cantons that are left of the west bank after this annexation and allowing hte [sic] refugees to return to these cantons. Thus relinquishing their rights and declaring and end of occupation. in other words official apartheid. Please withdraw your support!”
Another group, calling itself the Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) dispatched a statement about the events under the heading “Celebrating Peace or Camouflaging Apartheid?”
“According to the widely accepted boycott criteria advocated by the PACBI, the [One Voice concerts] fall under the category of normalization projects and violates the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)…Participants are required to join the One Voice Movement and sign a mandate…which assumes equal responsibility of ‘both sides’ for the "conflict”…and denial of Palestinian refugee rights (particularly the right of return).”
A few days later, the PACBI reported that pressure tactics had begun to pay off. “Most of the Arab artists have withdrawn their participation from the concert, including DAM Rap, Reem Talhami, Jamil Al Sayeh, and Al Asayel Group. In addition, many individuals and organizations that have been listed as endorsers, including Bishop Atallah Hanna, have pulled out…Furthermore, we have learned that several alleged endorsers, including President Mahmoud Abbas, were listed without their prior knowledge or consent. As for collecting signatures, the concert in effect serves as a bribe to the public, as concertgoers would be required to sign OneVoice’s mandate prior to entry.”
Just days before the event, and after One Voice had collected all the online signatures of those wishing to attend, the group announced the cancellation of the Jericho concert and then its Tel Aviv show as well.
“Fringe groups waged a slanderous campaign to incite threats against OneVoice staff and supporters,” the group lamented. Although the concerts were cancelled, the number of signatories to the group’s site – considered “members” rose significantly as locals sought entry to the free concert, which featured Israeli and PA music stars respectively. Still, despite the “over 600,000 members” the group’s online forum has garnered only ten posts at press time.
Khulood Badawi, a radical Israeli-Arab activist with the Marxist Hadash Party, dispatched an email gushing about the success of the pressure applied by leftist groups: “Wow...all our efforts have paid off. ‘Security concerns’ my a** (they're just hiding behind excuses). And ‘extremist ideologies’ means people who strive for a just peace that does not include carving up the West Bank into cantons, separating Gaza [and] ignoring our precious refugees' right of return.”
One Voice reportedly wrote on its Arabic-language site that the event was postponed for “technical reasons.”
The PACBI also issued a release heralding the cancellation. “The cancellation of the Jericho-Tel Aviv event, planned by One Voice…[is] a substantial accomplishment for the Palestinian boycott movement. A solid partnership between diverse civil society organizations [i.e. leftist groups and terror groups like the PFLP –ed.]…has succeeded in thwarting the event’s organizers’ attempt to mislead public opinion and to use deceptive slogans to market a political program that concedes some fundamental Palestinian rights.”
Also of note is a claim by the PACBI that One Voice attempted to pass off more radical PA Arabs as “moderates” by modifying the message of its Arabic web site to convey a much harder line. “The discrepancy in the political language used by the organizers in their Arabic web page and the main English page was only an indicator of a deeper deception,” a PACBI statement read.
The PACBI also echoed a complaint voiced by Israel’s Ashkenzi Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger that his name appeared endorsing the event without his being informed what its message was. “They falsely claimed, for instance, that the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, was the event’s main patron, a claim that was categorically dismissed in an official statement issued by the President’s office on 11 October; they also included names of well-known national figures as members of various committees of their organization without those individuals’ consent or even knowledge, as was later disclosed.”
The radical PACBI hailed the cancellation as proof of the intransigence of PA public opinion. “This achievement is further proof that a clear majority in Palestinian society continues to insist on the full realization of the inalienable rights of the people of Palestine, paramount among which is the right to self-determination and the right of return for the refugees, as guaranteed by international law.”
Veteran left-wing activist Gila Svirsky, one of the heads of B’Tzelem and former director of the New Israel Fund in Israel, criticized those who sought to have the events cancelled. “Canceling a concert for peace is not something to be proud of. If you did not want to attend, that is your privilege. But to promote a boycott of a peace concert? The only thing this concert was about was demanding a 2-state solution. I know that some of you prefer a one-state solution. But you should not get in the way of those who are trying to reach a 2-state solution. There was nothing in the declaration about refugees, Jerusalem, the border, etc. Just a general call for a 2-state solution, and that the leaders negotiate until it was achieved.”
A Jewish columnist for The Guardian, Seth Freedman, however, managed to blame “extremists on both sides” for the cancellation, citing Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger’s report that he was deceived into lending his support to the initiative.