OneVoice Israel (OVI) hosted its first “Peace Pays Off at the Bar” gathering outside of Tel Aviv at the Agnes Bar in Hod Hashoron. The December 1 social event, featuring guest speaker Gershon Baskin, was successful in engaging a new swath of the Israeli public at a time when political upheaval has taken Israel by storm.
The Agnes was packed wall-to-wall with 50 people, the crowd representing all aspects of Israeli society. Baskin, an OVI board member and the founder and co-chairman of the Israel-Palestine Creative Regional Initiative (IPCRI), spoke to a wide variety of issues relating to the peace process and about his many years of experience working with Israelis and Palestinians – publicly and privately – to promote understanding of both narratives in the conflict. Baskin is well known for his keen political insight and his secret back-channel meetings between Israel and Hamas that successfully negotiated the release of Israeli solider Pvt. Gilad Schalit.
“We got very close to an agreement with the Palestinians, at least twice before,” Baskin told the audience. “Today, many of them have lost faith in reaching an agreement with us. [But] the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be solved.”
“As an Israeli citizen who loves this place and is proud to be an Israeli, there is no other place I would want to live. The conflict is resolvable and we can reach a formula acceptable to both nations. We have people who agree to the outline of a peace based on two states.”
“Peace Pays Off at the Bar” is an expansion of OVI’s “Peace, It Also Pays Off!” campaign, which asked Israelis to consider how they would rather spend 32 billion shekels—the amount the conflict costs Israel each year at the expense of social and economic programs. The first “Peace Pays Off at the Bar” event took place at the Little Prince in Tel Aviv on October 6 that saw Col. (Ret.) Miri Eisin speak to 70 people.
Dan Shika, OVI’s Central Regional Director, commented on the prospects of spreading “Peace at the Bar” beyond Tel Aviv, saying, “This was my first event held outside of Tel Aviv and I am very pleased that we were able to get the OVI message to 50 new people and hopefully by word of mouth our message will continue to spread throughout the area.”
Above: OVI Central Regional Director Dan Shika introduces Gershon Baskin at The Agnes Bar on December 1.