Who are the Combatants for Peace?

Combatants for Peace is an egalitarian, bi-national, grassroots movement based on the belief that the cycle of violence can end only when Israelis and Palestinians join forces. Combatants for Peace was founded by Israeli and Palestinian former fighters who recognized that peace can only be achieved by breaking the cycle of violence. They had the courage to lay down their arms and jointly pursue a just resolution through nonviolence and cooperation.

Through its activities, CfP is laying the groundwork for a peaceful and secure future for both Israelis and Palestinians. The Combatants work together to build bridges so that the humanity of all is recognized and respected. CfP demonstrates, through the community it has built, that there is an alternative to violence.

CfP is first and foremost about values. For more than a decade Combatants for Peace has modeled its vision on freedom, security, democracy, dignity and respect for all. It is based on these values that the CfP strives to end the occupation. Military occupation cannot be reconciled with any of these core values.

CfP’s primary goal is to create a community of Palestinians and Israelis demonstrating, through their cooperation and non-violent struggle, that “There is Another Way.” The movement aims to change attitudes on a mass scale and create a joint groundswell of support in order to end the occupation and bring peace to both peoples.

How is Combatants for Peace different from other groups seeking an end to the conflict?
  • Combatants for Peace is Unique.

Combatants for Peace is a bi-national, egalitarian grassroots movement of Palestinians and Israelis, dedicated to nonviolence. It is the only movement ever, anywhere in the world, that is composed of former fighters from both sides, who are working together for peace, freedom and equality while the conflict is still going on. CfP is a model for people and nations everywhere.

  • Combatants for Peace is building a better future together. 

Unlike the very few other “joint” organizations, CfP is primarily an activist group, working to implement grassroots solutions, build hope and inspire real change. The media shows us images of hatred again and again, but Combatants for Peace changes the way the two sides see each other and relate. CfP activities are designed to inspire compassion and empathy for the “other.” The message of Combatants for Peace, “There is Another way,” is based on the core values of humanity and equality. CfP serves to remind us that transformation is possible!

Combatants for Peace rebuilds homes that have been destroyed, builds playgrounds and safe spaces for children whose lives are plagued by violence. CfP organizes educational programs: going into schools and pre-army seminaries in order to teach youth compassion and understanding. The movement holds “learning peace” seminars for adults who have been mired in war to learn the art of peace. CfP organizes Non-Violent Activist training workshops and Non-Violent Communication training workshops to teach themselves and their communities how to respond nonviolently in violent situations. The movement uses direct action, such as marches and demonstrations, to demand freedom; it uses art, theater and storytelling to build empathy and forgiveness in both communities. Most importantly, the Combatants transform themselves and those around them.

  • Combatants for Peace is not advocating a particular political solution.

CfP recognizes that there may be different possible solutions to the conflict. As a movement it does not advocate particular positions on the details of a future solution. CfP supports the two state solution or any other solution that is mutually and amicably agreed upon by both parties.

  • Combatants for Peace embodies the hope that peace is possible.

If former fighters and military officers can transform themselves and work together nonviolently towards a solution, then truly anybody can. Combatants for Peace is working hard to demonstrate to people in both societies that together we can rise above hatred, fear, oppression and violence. Not only does CfP challenge the occupation, its activists also create a living example of the way things can be: a society based on peace, equality and dignity. They show the world that there is a partner for peace. This is their message, and their work is to spread hope.

  • Combatants for Peace is about human values.

The movement emphasizes the moral over the political and demands that the political be moral. A solution that is not moral will not hold.

  • Combatants for Peace enjoys legitimacy in both communities. 

Because the movement was founded and is run by former fighters on both sides, it holds respect and legitimacy on both sides. Thus, CfP is in a unique position to affect change. Many of the members of Combatants for Peace come from the heart of the conflict. They were part of the violence and experienced its effects first hand. On both sides, they served the national cause of their people through the use of force and violence, but they came to understand that nonviolence serves the interests of their societies far better. Their moves from violence to non-violence are acts of taking responsibility, of emancipation from the roles written for them by their respective societies. It is an act of breaking free.

  • Combatants for Peace represents a third narrative.

CfP strives for peace by building trust and respect between Israelis and Palestinians. It demonstrates that through nonviolent cooperation they are no longer enslaved to the old narratives of conflict but, rather, can move forward together to achieve their goals. It is this sumud (steadfastness) to such basic moral principles, and the orientation towards a better future, that allows them to represent an alternative, a third narrative: a narrative of a hopeful future rather than of a painful past.

What does Combatants for Peace do?
  1. Build an ever-expanding bi-national Israeli-Palestinian activist community.
    • Nine Bi-National Activist Groups. CfP has established a network of nine bi-national, regional activist groups. An Israeli city paired with a Palestinian city in the West Bank. CfP brings residents from these cities together to work cooperatively on local issues. Through these groups, CfP also conducts tours in the West Bank, rebuilds demolished homes, schools and playgrounds, and uses creative theatrical expression and storytelling a as means of generating understanding and compassion for each other.
    • Bi-national women’s group, focuses on empowering women to stand up and make a difference together in their communities. They cooperate with other women’s groups promoting peace, and bring the messages of transformation, non-violent action and cooperation to their societies.
    • ‘Theater of the Oppressed’ group, uses theater to inspire social and political change by giving each side the opportunity to stand in the shoes of the other. The theater techniques also serve to help their communities overcome the personal trauma of the conflict.
  1. Mobilize broad and effective bi-national, non-violent activities promoting freedom and security for both peoples.
    • Monthly Freedom Marches – Since November 2015, CfP has been holding monthly marches in strategic locations accessible to both Palestinians and Israelis, mainly along Route 60 in the West Bank, just south of Jerusalem. The marches incorporate puppets, music, and other creative expression to show their communities that Israelis and Palestinians together are seeking an end to the occupation through non-violence.
    • Nonviolent protests are organized against road blocks, house demolitions, confiscation and expropriation of Palestinian land by Israeli authorities.
    • Cooperation as a tool to strengthen the impact of the message and expand its resonance.CfP creates partnerships with other local initiatives and groups in coalitions; it assists and cooperates with international efforts such as the Sumud Freedom Camp, organized in 2017, to rebuild homes for Palestinians whose homes were demolished by the Israeli Military.
  1. Catalyze a mass change in public opinion.
    • The Joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony. This ceremony is held annually on Israel’s traditional Memorial Day, constituting a unique alternative service for Israelis and Palestinians to commemorate all those whose lives have been lost in this conflict. Over the past 11 years Israelis and Palestinians have come together in Tel Aviv to attend the Ceremony. In 2017, 4500 people attended in Tel Aviv, along with a parallel joint ceremony was held in Beit Jala to accommodate those denied entry permits by the Israeli authorities. 50,000 people worldwide watched via live-stream. The ceremony’s primary message each year is that we can, together, break free from the cycle of violence.
    • Encounter: This program allows Israelis and Palestinians to encounter the “other” and learn about each other’s narrative. It allows people to know and understand the personal transformation of someone from the “other side” and begin to change their own understanding of the conflict. The Encounters are open to the public, in a variety of venues, and are also geared to specific target groups such as high schools, youth groups, pre-army preparatory schools and more. In 2016, the combatants met over 3000 people in 68 different encounter events.
    • House Meetings: House meetings provide the movement a more intimate setting to share personal stories, emphasizingpast involvement in the cycle of violence and sharing the process of transformation. These meetings end with Q&A and open discussion. The house meetings invariably touch the hearts and minds of all those involved.
    • Educational tours: During these full-day tours CfP activists bring both Israeli and international participants to tour in different areas of the West Bank. Participants have the opportunity to learn about the daily challenges of the occupation and to see the other side. The day ends with meeting a Palestinian member of the movement and hearing his or her personal story.
    • Screenings of Disturbing the Peace: This award-winning documentary film portrays both the history and current socio-political context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; it inspires profound hope that ending the conflict is possible. The film chronicles eight personal transformations from violence to non-violence through telling the story of leading activists.
    • “Learning Peace” Seminars: This is a series of lecture and discussion meetings, open to the public, in which CfP hosts public figures and academics who are concerned about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The event ends with CfP members sharing their stories and facilitating an open discussion. These sessions serve to educate the public to “learn the art of peace.”

Does Combatants for Peace advocate for a one state, two-state or other resolution of the conflict?

Combatants for Peace works towards a two state solution in the 1967 borders, or any other mutually agreed upon solution that will allow both Israelis and Palestinians to live in freedom, security, democracy and dignity in their homeland. Combatants for Peace will support any political solution that provides for the needs of both peoples and is mutually agreed upon and accepted by the governments of both peoples.

Does Combatants for Peace advocate for complete Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank?

CfP advocates an agreed-upon resolution of the conflict that will effectively end the occupation while providing lasting freedom and security for both Palestinians and Israelis. As distinct from the unilateral disengagement from Gaza, there must be a negotiation process and it must include mutual understandings and agreements for joint cooperation on an ongoing basis in order to assure the sustainability of peace, freedom and security for both peoples in Palestine and Israel.

What is Combatants for Peace’s position on the core issues of the conflict: right of return, Jerusalem, borders, etc?

Combatants for Peace does not advocate particular positions with respect to the core issues of the conflict. Rather, it maintains that all of these issues must be part of the negotiating process between the two governments. An agreed upon resolution that recognizes and provides for both Israelis and Palestinians to live in freedom, peace, dignity and security will be supported by CfP. Combatants for Peace embodies and advocates cooperation and co-resistance – not isolation and separation – through non-violent action, art and education. It respects the rights of both peoples and stands firm upon the bedrock of moral, human values.

What is Combatants for Peace’s position on BDS?

Combatants for Peace does not participate in the BDS movement. CfP takes no official position regarding BDS.

Is Combatants for Peace 'Normalizing'?

No.  Occupation is not normal and CfP does not behave as if it is. The movement speaks out against oppression and battles the occupation using nonviolent means at the grassroots level.  Our joint actions are designed to promote peace, justice and human dignity.

How does Combatants for Peace address the power imbalance between the two sides?

Combatants for Peace is dedicated to both cooperation and equality between Palestinians and Israelis. We recognize that within the greater Palestinian/Israeli society, the two peoples are far from equal; because of this, we strive to model a new way based on mutual respect and equality. Every position in Combatants for Peace is held by two members of the movement: two directors, one Palestinian and one Israeli; two General coordinators, one Palestinian and one Israeli; two leaders of every regional group, two treasurers, two media directors, etc. Every position is held jointly and every decision is made together between the two sides, with equal representation, mutual respect and dignity.

What do the Combatants think of the separation wall?

Combatants for Peace believes that we need to build bridges, not walls. Lasting peace cannot be achieved through separation and fear. Peace will only be achieved through equality, freedom, compassion and reconciliation. Combatants for Peace serves as a model of these values every day.

What is Combatants for Peace’s position on the Israeli Settlements?

As a movement, Combatants for Peace operates against creeping annexation and settlement expansion, while advocating Palestinian rights. Israeli settlers live under a different set of laws than Palestinians, with one group receiving full rights and the other subject to military rule and occupation: two sets of laws, two sets of roads, two sets of norms alongside confiscation of Palestinian land and dislocation of local Palestinian inhabitants. Clearly, this system runs counter to the core values of CfP.

There is widespread international condemnation of Israel and Israeli governmental policies. How does Combatants for Peace feel about the State of Israel and Israeli government policies?

Combatants for Peace believes that all Israelis and Palestinians have the right to live in peace, security and dignity in their homeland. Only by working together cooperatively, on a grassroots level, will it be possible to inspire the mass support needed to press the respective leaderships to find a just and amicable solution. That being said, Combatants for Peace opposes the present right-wing Israeli government policies of land confiscation, imprisonment of people including juveniles without trial, restricting the right to non-violent protest, limiting freedom of movement, demolishing homes, and more. Three million people live under occupation, denied equal rights of the most basic kind; Gazans are denied even the most basic needs. Combatants for Peace opposes these policies and is dedicated to freedom, fairness and equality for all people, regardless of faith or ethnicity.

Extremist groups succeed to infiltrate communities and brainwash youth (on both sides) because they fill a financial and psychological gap. How does CfP counterbalance this and contribute to filling the gap?

Combatants for Peace is dedicated to transformation and to inspiring young people to believe – and act – in another way. CfP holds educational programs for peace in a variety of different contexts, both formal and informal. These events instill hope and tolerance. By sharing their own stories of transformation, activists seek to “humanize the other” and provide profound living examples of a different path. All this serves as a direct counterbalance to hatred. Combatants for Peace also offers direct, nonviolent alternatives to protest the occupation, so that youth who want to make a difference in their communities have other options besides resorting to violence. Furthermore, the movement provides outlets such as art, theater and storytelling, to transform and heal the often vengeful and angry feelings many youth experience in both Palestine and Israel.

How will CfP inspire the respective governments and leaders to make peace?

Combatants for Peace is not willing to rely on their governments to build peace. Instead, the movement is building it, itself, through widespread, grassroots change and community creation. CfP has been a model of bi-national, egalitarian co-existence and democracy for over ten years. It leads by example and shows the world that hope and tolerance really can overcome hate, even in the worst of conflicts. Combatants for Peace is well aware that hate and fear are the true enemies; it works tirelessly to overcome these.

The vast majority of both Israelis and Palestinians support a negotiated settlement to end the conflict. The majority of Israelis support the idea of an independent Palestinian state next to the state of Israel. However, a key line used by the Israeli government since the failure of the Camp David talks in 2000 is that there is no partner for peace on the Palestinian side CfP’s joint actions are evidence that there is a partner, just as its joint support for non-violence belies the conceptions that “all Palestinians are terrorists” and all “Israelis are war criminals.” Combatants for Peace demonstrates to all that “There Is Another Way.”

Combatants for Peace has shown the world that it is not about specific solutions. It is about the values people share, the way they speak, the way they listen and the way they act. When the majority of people believe in and strongly demand lasting peace and reconciliation, the governments will have no choice but to respond.

Why is American funding necessary?

CfP’s activities have grown over the years with ever increasing numbers of participants and events, but funding has been limited. As a result, the movement is unable to accommodate all those who wish to be active. For example, unless transportation is provided to the monthly Freedom March or other demonstrations, many people who would participate cannot. Similarly, financing cannot always be found for local events – supplies as well as logistics.

Without the necessary funding, CfP has also struggled to engage in the media campaigns necessary to convey its message and achievements to both the Israeli and Palestinian publics at large, as well as internationally. This has hindered the growth of the movement to reach still more locales, institutions and people as well as its ability to effectively make change.

With widespread support and recognition, Combatants for Peace will be able to grow to levels that will be impossible for political leaders to ignore. CfP has demonstrated that ongoing violence and war do not have to be the inevitable fate of Palestinians and Israelis. By recognizing the humanity and rights of each other, respect and cooperation can be forged and life-altering experiences occur. With recognition and support, Combatants for Peace will be able to show the world that Peace is possible.

What is the relationship between Combatants for Peace and American Friends of Combatants for Peace?
  • CfP is a nonprofit ltd company under Israeli law and is recognized by the Palestinian Authority. Equality of representation is held as a key value in the organization, and hence, each management position is paired and held by a member of each community: one Israeli and one Palestinian. All major decisions are taken by bi-national bodies.
  • American Friends of Combatants for Peace is a licensed 501c3 within the USA, governed by a Board of Directors. It is a separate legal entity from Combatants for Peace, but it serves as the CfP’s fiscal sponsor in the USA. Donations awarded to AFCfP are funneled directly into CfP’s costs and activities. All donations to AFCfP are tax deductible.

What does Freedom mean to you?

 

De Palestijnse en Israëlische leden van Combatants for Peace strijden sinds 2005 zij-aan-zij geweldloos voor vrede. Kijk de Vrijheidslezing met hen hier terug -> http://bit.ly/2nlnC6R

Posted by De Balie on Friday, April 7, 2017

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