The heart of the Combatants for Peace movement is in our house meetings. We regularly meet with large numbers of Israelis, Palestinians and Internationals, intridcuting them to the narratives on both sides. Our main programs target Israeli teens before they join the army, interested Palestinian communities, the general Israeli public and political or International delegations. We use our personal stories and the stories of our transformation to show everyone that change – both personally and politically, is possible.
Segregation is caused by and reinforced through the demonization and dehumanization of the other side. Each side retreats into its respective militarized national narratives that portray the other as intransigent, responsible for the continuation of the conflict and as the eternal enemy. Israelis and Palestinians see little hope for a peaceful future. The ever-increasing isolation and enmity towards the other, prevents Israelis and Palestinians from seeing in each other as a potential partner for peace. This creates a sense of despair and hopelessness around any peaceful resolution to the conflict.
When Israelis and Palestinians meet face to face in a genuine and open way, they become more open and able to hear and see each other’s perspectives. When we listen to each other’s stories, we are able to humanize the “enemy.” Furthermore, when Israeli and Palestinian activists from Combatants for Peace stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity against the occupation, both audiences on both sides are able to more deeply understand the reality we all live in – and recognize the suffering that the occupation causes everyone.