EXCLUSIVE: Entrepreneur Daniel Lubetzky is launching a movement with prominent figures in the business world, Hollywood, politics and more to combat culture wars in America, telling Fox News that fostering independent thinking and communication is key to taking on the "distrust, blind tribalism, and dehumanization" in American culture today.

Lubetzky, the founder of KIND Snacks and a recurring "shark" on ABC's "Shark Tank," in an exclusive interview with Fox News Digital, said he is creating "Starts With Us" to try to help bring Americans a "very concrete set of toolkits" in order to take on "this culture of contempt."


The businessman has been involved in peace building work for decades, specifically in the Middle East, but now, he is bringing that experience to the United States.

Shark Tanks's Daniel Lubetzky

Entrepreneur Daniel Lubetzky is launching a movement with prominent figures in the business world, Hollywood, politics and more to combat culture wars in America. (Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

"Our country is suffering from this culture of contempt that is metastasizing in some very nasty things that you are seeing in both extremes," Lubetzky said. "‘Starts With Us’ will try to help us all to recognize that every citizen has the power, and with that power, the responsibility, to help America realize its full potential."

Lubetzky, the son of a Holocaust survivor, immigrated to the United States from Mexico when he was 15.

"There is all of this self-righteousness, this rigidity, and what we are trying to do is get back to the America that I immigrated into," Lubetzky told Fox News. "The America where you can have very strong convictions, but you have the kindness and the courage and the strength — not weakness — the strength to be able to respect the other side, and to respect that maybe other ideas do have a role."

He added: "For me, it is really ironic that, when I came to America, I never thought that I would need to fight to defend the essential tenets here in my own country."

Lubetzky said that the current "culture wars" inspired him to create "Starts With Us."


"This tribalism and these social media echo chambers, the cable news echo chambers, the way politics are becoming — we all like thinking that we have all of the answers and the other side must be infidels," he said. "It is very unhealthy and it is very, very dangerous."

In 2002, Lubetzky founded the "OneVoice Movement," a nonprofit initiative that sought to amplify the voices of moderates in the Middle East with the goal of finding a path to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Lubetzky told Fox News that more than half a million people, including both Israelis and Palestinians, signed onto the movement’s vision for peace promoting "non-violent resolution to the conflict."

Lubetzky told Fox News that signatories "still disagreed on certain issues," but said they were "united" by a common belief that "an extreme approach would never lead to progress."

"Start With Us" logo

Lubetzky said "Starts with Us" will help give Americans the toolkit to approach differences with compassion, curiosity and courage.  ("Starts with Us")

"OneVoice was created by this confused Mexican-American-Jew out of New York," Lubetzky said describing himself. "But it taught me, it taught me, some fascinating things."

"Now, fast-forward 20 years later, I am finding that a lot of those things that we learned about how to navigate differences, how to collaborate with courage, how to empower moderate thinking and voices so we can fight to learn not to give up on your values, but to learn how to fight for your values with nobility, with kindness and respect — I am finding that we need that here in the United States more than ever," he explained.

Lubetzky warned that "we are all suffering from this, because social media algorithms are serving us what we want to hear, rather than what we need to hear, which is viewpoints that inform as opposed to confirm our beliefs."

"So we are all being desensitized and trained to think like robots rather than to be critical thinkers," he said. "We have the best, most entrepreneurial nation. We allow for the marketplace of ideas to win, and that is why we’ve historically had the best form of government — because we allow people to debate things and ensure they are not ostracized because they agree or disagree with our opinion." 

"We allow the possibility that you might disagree and still be a great person right? Not like, if you disagree, you’re evil," he said. "And so, it is really essential that we bring back these values."

Shark Tank's Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban is a founding partner of "Starts with Us." (Getty Images/ GP Images)

Lubetzky has rallied support from dozens of his peers, along with bridge-building and conflict-resolution experts, with some becoming founding partners of the organization, including businessman and "Shark Tank" shark Mark Cuban, "Shark Tank" shark Lori Greiner, "Seinfeld" actor Jason Alexander, founder of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics Bobbi Brown, rapper will.i.am, former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, chef Jose Andres, polarization researcher Peter Coleman and more.


"We have 160 or more leaders from business leaders to musicians, to celebrities, academic thinkers, sports figures, and what they all have in common is, because they span a spectrum of voices, a lot of people seem to assume they are this or that, but they break all stereotypes," he explained.

"We span a political spectrum, and it puts people that are conservative, progressive, Republican, Democrat, as well as independent together," he continued. "And what they all bring is the values that we want to foster — that kind of critical thinking and curiosity. They welcome debate and cherish it."

Jason Alexander, Seinfeld actor

Actor Jason Alexander told Fox News that "the world is suffering from a fear issue," which he said "always turns into anger, as we've seen continuously play out." (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Actor Jason Alexander told Fox News that "the world is suffering from a fear issue," which he said "always turns into anger, as we've seen continuously play out." 

"If we can all stop shouting, start listening, and try to find some common ground, I believe we can change the world," Alexander told Fox News. "That’s why I have joined Daniel and other founding partners of the Starts With Us movement.

Alexander added: "It truly does start with us, and I want to be a part of that change."

Of the founding partners, Lubetzky told Fox News that they "have been able to have compassion towards everybody, even people who disagree with them, and have the courage to work across lines of difference."

will.i.am, rapper

Rapper will.i.am is a founding partner of the organization. (Kimberly White/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize)

Lubetzky told Fox News that "Starts with Us" will "empower" individuals to practice the "3Cs." 

"The three Cs are compassion, curiosity and courage, and they are actually very interlocked," Lubetzky explained, urging individuals to have "curiosity even for ideas you don’t agree with, compassion even for people who are different than you are, and courage even in the face of discomfort." 

Shark Tank's Lori Greiner

"Shark Tank" shark Lori Greiner is also a founding member of "Starts with Us."(Photo by JC Olivera/WireImage)

The grassroots movement is set to use media and technology to "reach and galvanize people" through storytelling — specifically real-life stories of individuals practicing the "3Cs in radical ways."

Lubetzky said "Starts with Us" will also share "evidence-based exercises" on social media to help people to "discover their own power" and to "show up to tough conversations and interactions differently." 

The organization is also building an app that will enable live one-on-one conversations.


"Starts With Us" is also partnering with workplaces, universities, high schools, faith groups and more to incorporate its programming.

"If so many of us are fed up with the extremism that’s taking our country, if we speak up, politicians are going to come to us — politicians are going to follow us," he explained. "We have to be the leaders — we the people have to be the leaders and demand from politicians the values that we want to live by."

He added: "It is the only way."