Who We Are:
Combatants for Peace is a nonviolent civil resistance movement working to end the Israeli occupation. We fight for equality and human rights, with the aim of bringing a just and secure future for both Palestinians and Israelis. We inspire change from the grassroots. We do not believe change will come from the “top-down;” our political leaders can not, and will not, save us. Instead, we are building a massive coalition movement, starting with real people on the ground. Together we demand concrete changes to our social, legal and political systems. Our nonviolent activism demonstrates that there is an alternative to violence (both acute and systemic), and our bi-national partnership lays the groundwork for a peaceful future by modeling community building, connection and cooperation.
Combatants for Peace serves as a model and catalyst for democracy, equality, freedom, and dignity. We aim to build a just and peaceful society from the ground-up, through egalitarian community building, grassroots organizing, and joint nonviolent civil resistance. We are the largest joint (Israeli and Palestinian) group on the ground, and the only joint group actively engaging in activism and resistance. We were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017 and 2018.
American Friends of Combatants for Peace is an American 501c3 nonprofit organization that was established to financially support Combatants for Peace in Israel and Palestine, and to build awareness about their work throughout the United States. Please note, the programs described below are the programs of Combatants for Peace in Palestine and Israel.
Joint Memorial Ceremonies
Yom Hazikaron (the Israeli day of mourning) and The Nakba (the Palestinian day of mourning)
Israel and Palestine have each established a national day of remembrance wherein they mourn the consequences of the decades-long conflict with one another. Historically, and culturally, both communities have elevated this day of remembrance to one of sacred observance. Israelis mourn on Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day) and Palestinians on the Nakba (Day of Catastrophe).
In mourning together, we seek not to equate these narratives. Rather, we understand that occupation creates a pain that is shared by all of society. At the forefront of each community’s mourning is an expression of deep pain and grief for the tragic losses that this conflict has wrought. Traditionally, both of these days serve to reinforce cultural narratives of victimhood, hopelessness, and despair. By mourning together, we can begin to move beyond these narratives and identify a path towards transformative change.
The Joint Memorial Ceremony is the largest jointly organized Israeli-Palestinian peace event that has ever taken place. This year over 280,000 people participated in the event. Nearly every peace-building NGO in the region participates in some way, whether through co-sponsorship or by sending their members to attend.
The Joint Nakba Ceremony amplifies and honors Palestinian history and experience, and this year reached over 30,000 people worldwide. The Ceremony is an opportunity to share an often ignored and deliberately silenced history on a world-stage. Honoring the pain of the past – and the present – is the only way to forge a peaceful future with true justice and dignity for all.
By bringing the “other side” – the enemy – to each other’s traditional day of mourning, Combatants for Peace transforms despair into hope and builds bridges of compassion. We remind ourselves that occupation, oppression, and violence are not inevitable. By mourning together we have begun to shift public opinion on a massive scale.
Protecting Basic Human Rights
Helping Palestinian Communities stay on their land
Since the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic, incidents of harassment and violence against Palestinian communities in Area C have skyrocketed. Across the West Bank, settlers have injured 227 Palestinians since the start of the pandemic, and the military has injured over 14,000 Palestinians, with almost 13,000 civilians injured in 2021 alone. The military has also increased home demolitions during the pandemic, leaving hundreds of families homeless and vulnerable at an incredibly dangerous time. 416 demolitions have occurred in the Jordan Valley since the pandemic began. In the small bedouin community of Khirbet Humsa, 196 structures have been torn down in the last year, which we have consistently restored.
Fighting demolitions and rebuilding structures, including in the villages of Humsa, Beita, Sheikh Jarrah, Susya, and more, is one of the key ways our work interrupts and mitigates the violence of the occupation against Palestinian communities. We also bring water, tents, shoes, and trucks full of other essential supplies to families after their homes have been demolished, to aid them in reclaiming their land and rebuilding their lives.
Another focus of our human rights work lies in escorting shepherds, through which we interrupt potentially violent encounters with settlers or the military. On an ideal escort, three volunteers leave Tel Aviv to arrive in the Jordan Valley by 6am, where they meet a group of shepherds and walk alongside them for the day. If settlers or soldiers attempt to harass the shepherds, as they so often do, it falls on the volunteers to stall these forces while the shepherds allow their sheep to continue grazing. Israeli activists can confront soldiers by speaking to them in Hebrew on the shepherds’ behalf, questioning their orders, and challenging their legal rights to remove the shepherds. Such escorts have vastly improved the ability of shepherds to accompany their sheep in grazing and, by helping them maintain the viability of their livelihood, have greatly reduced their economic insecurity.
More Actions: Legal appeals for human rights with lawyer, Eitay Mack; legal appeals to international leaders, UN, Congress & EU; smaller actions on the ground including cutting down an illegal fence put up by settlers cutting through private Palestinian land; helping Palestinian families with the olive harvest, protecting them from the settler violence that is often more intense during the harvest season; installing security in Palestinian villages, such as building fences around farms and putting bars on windows, again to protect families from Settler violence; and re-planting olive groves destroyed by settlers or the military.
Protests and Demonstrations
Taking to the Streets to Demand Equality
Nonviolent protest is a hallmark of successful civil and human rights campaigns, both currently and historically. Nonviolent protest raises awareness and publicly pressures governments to challenge and ultimately change unjust laws. In the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, for example, protests are held every Friday, used as a tool to pressure the Israeli government to stay the the ongoing eviction of families throughout the neighborhood. As a result of this constant pressure, many families throughout Sheikh Jarrah have been able to remain in their homes. Through an ongoing campaign of nonviolent protest, we hope to save the community in Sheikh Jarrah and to defend countless others across Israel and Palestine. We also stood up against violence last May, during the outbreak of violence, using nonviolent protest to voice dissent against the bombing and the siege on Gaza.
The Water Campaign
A stark result of the occupation is the grievous inequity in rights for rural Palestinian villagers as compared to the Israeli settlers who surround them. The basic human rights of Palestinians are systematically denied, while Israeli settlers are given the rights and resources that they need to not only survive, but to thrive. A prominent example of this disparity is in access to water. While Israeli settlements are given priority access to water sources, to the extent that lush gardens and swimming pools are common in the desert climate; Palestinian communities across the South Hebron Hills are not allowed access to running water and are forbidden from gathering rain water and digging wells. As a result, they are forced to purchase water in expensive tankards from Israeli companies. This has sparked one of our largest, most critical campaigns this past year.
In the fall of 2021, Combatants for Peace launched a campaign to provide vulnerable Palestinain communities across the South Hebron Hills with the water they so desperately need. As part of this campaign, we distributed water tankards to villages throughout the South Hebron Hills and drew international attention to the disparity in water rights throughout Palestine and Israel.
Within days of this campaign achieving widespread international attention, the UN announced a resolution demanding water equity between Israelis and Palestinians. Combatants for Peace was also invited to speak before the Knesset twice to address this campaign and the profound settler and military violence that came as backlash to it.
Thanks to the widespread coverage that this campaign received locally and internationally, a senior ranking General in the Israeli military has agreed to negotiate infrastructure building in the Palestinian village of Al Mofakara, outside of At-Tuwani in the South Hebron Hills. If this negotiation is successful, and running water is provided to the village, this will be a revolutionary and unprecedented victory.
The Freedom School & Palestinian Youth Group
Nurturing the next generation of human rights leaders
As the peace community grows increasingly marginalized, it has become more and more difficult to recruit young people into the community – and unfortunately the peace community across both societies has significantly aged. Over the past few decades, millions of dollars have been channeled into youth dialogue programs, often to little effect. In fact, despite these efforts, youth in both communities are becoming more radical than generations before, and increasingly more polarized. Public polls reveal that both Israeli and Palestinian youth are increasingly hopeless and do not believe peace is achievable.
Our youth group is a novel initiative that seeks to create two new groups of activists, one Palestinian and one Israeli, aged 20-29. These groups of young people are mentored by senior activists from Combatants for Peace, who help empower them to stand up and demand equality, justice, and peace.
Our youth programs are founded upon a new model, a revolutionary premise. Unlike other youth programs, which are focused on dialogue and external relationships, Combatants for Peace helps young people develop their own identities as activists. By focusing on personal identity and leadership training, we equip youth with the tools they need to make substantial, identifiable change. Our youth programs aim to inspire, empower, and embolden young people to stand up and make change within their own societies – not because they have a friend on the other side, but rather because that is who they are, and what they believe in the core of their identity.
Our programs give young people the tools and skills they need to make real, identifiable change. So, no matter who their friends are, or what their external environments promote, young people supported by Combatants for Peace learn to endure as activists, standing up against the occupation and demanding equality, freedom and peace. Our programs do not tell these youth the “correct way” to make change, instead, they empower young adults to find their own passion within the field of social justice. In the last 18 months, we have mentored 70 participants through these programs, 50 of whom are now actively engaged in the peace movement. Our alumni are currently active in dialogue groups, environmental sustainability groups and direct action groups.
Empowering women to lead the fight against oppression
An integral element of diversity is gender: though men are often seen to be leading the peace movement, it is women who stand at the forefront of community building across Palestine and Israel. From the non-violent leadership of Palestinian women during the First Intifada to ongoing organizing in Sheikh Jarrah, historically, women have led the way towards progressive social change in both Israel and Palestine. This is certainly true within the leadership of Combatants for Peace.
Combatants for Peace is a movement with women at its helm, one that actively seeks to empower women activists and organizers with the tools and training necessary to effect change. Our women’s group works to empower future women leaders through community building, educational workshops and empowerment trainings. We also make a concerted effort to elevate women to key leadership positions. We are the only organization in the peace movement on the ground to have a Palestinian woman in the role of Executive Director and to have our primary programming (the Joint Memorial, Joint Nakba, and youth groups) all led by women, as well.
In a society plagued by entrenched oppression and severe human rights abuses, it is evident that none of its members can truly be free until all of them are. By uplifting women’s voices and empowering women to hold key leadership roles within the movement, Combatants for Peace is empowering women’s leadership, and putting women leaders at the forefront of the resistance against oppression and occupation.
Training activists in nonviolence and nonviolent resistance
Together, former fighters work to transform both themselves and their societies. By personally breaking out of the cycle of violence we transform ourselves from within, and our work on the ground serves to transform society. We believe in what is commonly known as the “virtuous circle”: that personal transformation prompts social action, and that direct social action then prompts personal transformation. Together, Israelis and Palestinians, we use this virtuous circle to build a growing movement that is dedicated to freedom, equality, and ultimately, peace.
Among Combatants for Peace’s many programs, we have several critical programs that best highlight this virtuous circle. The first is our Nonviolent Communication (NVC) training for activists. Every month we host an NVC workshop, held in our Beit Jala office, that our activists attend. In this training, they learn how to embody the principles of nonviolence, deepening their personal repertoire of the tools required to solve conflicts. Remaining nonviolent when faced with both systemic and acute violence requires profound personal strength and training. These workshops equip activists with the tools they need to succeed. Through NVC, Combatants for Peace offers activist leaders the opportunity to learn and internalize a new way of communicating, thinking, and responding, both personally and politically.
More leadership development programs include the Theater Group and our Nonviolent Direct Action training. The theater group meets monthly and uses theater as an active healing technique both for the participants/activists involved in the group, and also politically within society, using theater as a form of political activism.
Our Nonviolent Direct Action training program teaches activists tools of non-violent activism and helps activists to remain nonviolent at all times, when faced with violent situations and/or confrontations by settlers or the military. The best example of the effectiveness of this training was several years ago in the village of Khan Al Ahmar, when our activists practiced being (literally) carried off by the military, rather than reacting in any way with their bodies, when faced with brutal military violence. As a result, not a single act of violence was carried out by the protesters during that months-long sit-in, and largely as a result we succeeded in saving the village from demolition.
Transformative Education for Israeli and International Audiences
Teaching communities about the occupation
Since the beginnings of Combatants for Peace, education has served as the bedrock of our movement. CfP founders spent early days pouring over the work of nonviolent activists such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela, educating themselves on the sociological roots of nonviolent movement organizing. Today, CfP has grown to provide a wide host of educational programming to diverse audiences. Education is fundamentally different from dialogue. We teach people about the realities of the occupation, which is a critical step in dismantling it. In this way, our direct action is informed and accompanied by robust education, as our movement seeks to transform not only systems, but individuals as well.
Our educational programs include encounter programs for Israeli teens about to enter the military. Pre-covid we reached about 4,000+ teens per year. This program shut down during Covid, but towards the end of 2021 has picked back up again. Other key educational programs include Learning Peace Seminars for Israeli adults, which included numerous educational events around the Joint Memorial, leading up to the Ceremony. Our Learning Peace Educational programming also hosted numerous online webinars about the Water Campaign, as well as several in person events around the recent release of the biography of Combatants for Peace founder, Sulaiman Khatib. Combatants for Peace also hosted educational tours for Israelis to visit Sheikh Jarrah, tour in the West Bank, and visit the villages in the North of Israel destroyed and evacuated by the Nakba.
We also launched a series of four 2-day intensive educational programs, training Israeli educators, tour guides and leaders – people who are poised to influence and teach others throughout Israeli society. These programs included a “Challenging Militarism” Seminar and a “Land Above Mountains,” and each of the four intensives reached almost two dozen educators.
American Friends of Combatants for Peace hosted a 2021 Summer Series of thought provoking educational webinars for Internationals. The series drew in over 3,000 participants. American Friends of Combatants for Peace also brought a group of eleven Americans on an educational tour to the region to meet the activists on the ground. This tour was built as a pilot program, in the hopes of developing a more robust educational tourism program for Americans in the post-covid era.
Buoyed by this momentum, we are looking to build on this growth and invest in these audiences. Systemic change is not driven by singular actions or temporary efforts, but rather by sustained investment and ongoing education. We are dedicated to building upon this work and advancing our movement for a just, equitable and peaceful future in Israel and Palestine.
Total Money Raised by American Donors: $732,014
- AFCFP (gifts given through AFCFP): $678,976
- NIF (gifts given through NIF): $16,083
- IWagePeace (gifts given through IWagePeace): $10,000
- AFPC-FF (gift given from AFPC-FF to the Joint Memorial Ceremony): $15,000
- Direct to CfP (gifts sent by American donors directly to CfP through either PayPal or J Give): $11,955
- Funds sent from American donors to Combatants for Peace Total: $451,278
- Funds sent directly from AFCFP to CfP: $375,000
- Expenses paid by AFCFP on behalf of CfP: 23,240
- Funds sent to CfP from American NGO partners: $41,083
- Funds sent from American Donors directly to CfP: $11,955
- Expenses: American Friends of Combatants for Peace Total: $214,586
- Overhead/Personel: $159,004
- Operations/Program: $55,582
Join Our Movement:
For over a decade, we have embodied and served as a model for our values of freedom, equality, security, and dignity for all. We envision Combatants for Peace as a strong, influential binational community – a community that exemplifies viable cooperation and co-resistance to the occupation, which forms the basis for future co-existence. Through joint nonviolence in the present, we lay the foundations for a nonviolent future. This future is only made possible through the support of our members. Each individual that supports our work lays the foundation for a more equitable future. We hope you will join us.