Renowned Seinfeld actor Jason Alexander arrived in Israel earlier this week, with the media questioning the sincerity of his efforts to bring “serenity now” to Israel and the conflict. But the OneVoice Delegation Tour - an eclectic group of business professionals and philanthropists from the U.S. and Europe - strives to be more than yet another celebrity tour for a trendy cause.
The delegates arrived on Sunday for a weeklong trip geared toward providing participants with a broader, more informed understanding of both the Israeli and Palestinian narratives of the conflict, while fostering a deeper commitment to a two-state solution.
“As an American Jew, you feel like it is your job to advocate for the state of Israel,” Josh Bernstein, president of Bernstein Management and director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and the United Jewish Endowment Fund told Haaretz.
“But Israel has grown from a state that is fighting for its existence to a democracy, and unfortunately, it doesn’t always uphold the values it was built upon. For American Jews, this has become awkward – this is not the Israel we love.”
Many of the delegates shared Bernstein’s sentiments, expressing a love and commitment to the state of Israel, but difficulty reconciling their Jewish values, vision for a democratic country, and the present reality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
James and Sonia Cummings, chairman and trustee of the Nathan Cummings Foundation, that launches and sponsors community projects that promote economic and social justice based on Jewish tradition and democratic values, were disappointed at the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships’ inability to reach a solution. However, they remained hopeful that the youth they had met through OneVoice were part of a new generation that could inspire change.
“It is so important to enlighten the Diaspora about what is really going on in Israel – we need more unity,” Sonia Cummings told Haaretz.
“It is about the future of the next generation. Meeting with young people on this trip has been very enlightening; there is hope, they are living in the present. Maybe we can grab that, and communicate it to the Diaspora, so that we can create a movement of peace,” she added.
For more, go to Haaretz.com