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February 24, 2005

Daniel Lubetzky: One-Question Interview

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Daniel Lubetzky is the Chairman of the PeaceWorks Foundation, which conceived and guides the OneVoice Movement, empowering ordinary Israeli and Palestinian citizens to wrestle the agenda for conflict resolution away from violent extremists.

Born and raised in Mexico City, Mr. Lubetzky studied abroad in France and Israel and received his B.A. in Economics and International Relations, magna cum laude, from Trinity University, and his J.D. from Stanford Law School. Fluent in Spanish, English, Hebrew and French, Mr. Lubetzky has lectured at Harvard, The Fletcher School, and The University of Pennsylvania/Wharton, as well as at the World Economic Forum, the World Bank, and the United Nations.

In 1997 he was selected by the World Economic Forum as one of 100 Global Leaders for Tomorrow (GLT). In 2004 he received on behalf of the PeaceWorks Foundation the World Association of NGOs Peace Security and Reconciliation Award. He is Chairman, Founder and President of PeaceWorks Holdings LLC which is a business corporation pursuing both peace and profit through joint ventures among neighbors striving to coexist in conflict regions (with ventures in the Mideast and South East Asia and a sales network reaching 5,000 customers in the US).

Q: Unfortunately, black-and-white, push-button issues are much easier to explain and to adscribe to than reasoned. subtle ones. How can non-extremists, who do not set public policy and do not dominate the public debate, put their views forward to the public? What has been your experience in that respect in Israel and other regions of conflict?

A: The challenge is to conceive innovative and compelling actions, events or initiatives that force people to re-consider ingrained but incorrect notions. The challenge is compounded because you need to generate media coverage if you are to reach broad numbers of citizens, yet you do not want to resort to actions that would position you as being on the fringe. By its nature the media seeks the unusual and newsworthy, and it is easier for the media to think that blood and violence is newsworthy, or that some radical fringe action is so.

The overwhelming majority of people that want peace are
uninteresting to the media -- yet because of the prevalence of media in our lives, this creates a dangerous distortive power balanced in favor of minorities of violent extremists. "False polarization" is the term for the resulting belief that the OTHER is a monstrous enemy -- because that is all each side is exposed to.

Creative and effective alternatives include mobilizing broad
segments of the population to be part of CITIZEN NEGOTIATIONS where hundreds of thousands of citizens themselves form part of the process of crafting a grassroots mandate for how to resolve the conflict. This highlights the hidden common ground that exists among peoples.

Targeted use of celebrities and dignitaries to point attention to
people on the ground doing important work can also be effective if the message is focused.

At the OneVoice movement, www.OneVoiceMovement.org, we try to
conceive of creative projects on a monthly basis to highlight the will of the overwhelming majority of Palestinians and Israelis to resolve the conflict.


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The Workshop

On March 11th 2005 the Atocha Workshop on Global Terrorism, hosted by the Safe Democracy Foundation, will create a repository of original thinking on Global Terrorism that will continue to be fed weekly in the form of a weblog by creative thinkers on the subject from around the world.

The launching event will take place at the Atocha Train Station on March 11th, 2005 at the restaurant Samarkanda. Here, in in an atmosphere that will encourage creative thinking, around 400 people will participate as policy proponents, webloggers or as public; all will be engaged in the discussion of the proposed policies.
Preliminary Program >>

The People

The Workshop will bring together journalists, politicians, activists and scholars in the fields of democratic advocacy and terrorism analysis (see full list). We are introducing them by means of One Question Interviews. Anyone can register to the Workshop and participate by asking them further questions, challenging their assumptions or proposing their own alternative ideas.
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The Proposals

The general criteria for published ideas in the Atocha Workshop Weblog are that they be original, creative, potentially executable and most important that their implementation would likely lead to a more democratic world. The basic concept of the Worshop is that in politics, as in biology, diversity is needed to fight a threat. Political leaders, when confronted with the problem of global terrorism need a menu of possible responses. From the proceeds of the discussion on the weblog plus the physical event we will offer a series of Policy Proposals.
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The Issues

During the discussion stage we will be working from a series of topics that we will be refining down to ten main issues to be discussed at the physical conference. As you read this, participants in the workshop are already working together to boil them down to 10 from an original working set of 37.
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Credits

The Atocha Workshop is sponsored by the Safe Democracy Foundation.