مقاتلون من اجل السلام / לוחמים לשלום
An open dialogue, cultural initiatives and exchanges between Palestinians and Israelis are rare and difficult to obtain. The ongoing military conflict, fixed prejudices and imaginaries, and a lack of openness in the region are hindering are joint dialogue for mutual understanding. However, there are a few civil movements who try to break down these collective barriers and raise the consciousness in both societies in regard to this bloody conflict.
The non-violent resistance group “Combatants for Peace” is the very best example that a jointly movement for a better relationship is possible. It is a civil movement jointly established by former Palestinian militants and Israeli soldiers in order to promote a peaceful solution of two states (according to the Oslo Treaty) through dialogue and non-violent means. The bi-national movement “Combatants for Peace” leads a pacifist struggle against the occupation, fights for peace and justice in various joint actions. The activist’s goal is to enhance trust and solidarity between Palestinians and Israelis and, in the end, lead their societies out of the vicious cycle of conflict.
“Combatants for Peace” was formed in 2005 by a group of 12 Israeli soldiers from the Israeli army (IDF) and four former Palestinian fighters, mostly from the Fatah movement. Both sides took an active role in the violent struggle in the region and decided together to drop their arms. They become convinced that a military solution to the conflict is impossible and motivated to talk to each other” "Initially we were full of fear, but we learned that we're all human and can talk together,” said Palestinian Fatah fighter Sulaiman al-Hamri to the Jewish Journal. After a series of meetings, the group of Israelis and Palestinians jointly expressed the desire to fight peacefully for a solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and formed the “Combatants for Peace on Pessah” in 2006.
Today the movement consists of more than 250 activists involving also non ex-military participants who gather in weekly group dialogue meetings. But dialogue is not the end in itself, but rather a starting point for a number of concrete actions and real change in the area. For instance, the movement engages to help Palestinian farmers who have limited access to their fields due to military presence or who face harassment from settlers. The Combatants remove road blockages that tears the Palestinian villages apart, assist in the re-building of demolished houses and provide cultural and social activities such as tours of east Jerusalem, lectures and nonviolent demonstrations.
In a press release Raed Hadar and Avner Wishnitzer, Palestinian and Israeli coordinators of the movement emphasise: “We believe that only by joining forces, will we be able to end the cycle of violence, the bloodshed and the occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people. We no longer believe that it is possible to resolve the conflict between the two peoples through violent means; therefore we declare that we refuse to take part any more in the mutual bloodletting
Recently, the efforts of the “Combatants for Peace” were honoured with the 4th Euro-Med Award for Dialogue between Cultures 2009. The award, an initiative of the Anna Lindh Foundation and its partner Fondazione Mediterraneo, promotes the dialogue between cultures shared by the 43 countries of the Union for the Mediterranean. The official Ceremony was held in Stockholm, on 21st of September 2009, the International Day of Peace.
Please visit: www.combatantsforpeace.org
Jewish Journal: Former Israeli and Palestinian fighters push for peace—together
Anna Lindh Euro Mediterranean Foundation: www.euromedalex.org