It is easy to declare peace when you have never encountered war – but what does it take to fight for peace when your family’s land has been stolen to build a wall – a wall intended to keep you out? Or to declare peace when a suicide bomber killed your sister? What does it take to let go of revenge?
This is the question that Combatants for Peace answers every day. Combatants for peace is a bi-national, grassroots movement made up of former enemy fighters in Israel and Palestine – people who just years before only looked at each other through the barrel of a gun.
Today, they work together for change. Today, they are brothers.
Combatants for Peace is not only revolutionary, they are effective. Their strongest accomplishment is the confidence and hope they inspire in people around the world – hope that this conflict can and will be resolved.
As Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus and Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1984 said, “Israelis and Palestinians cannot hear each other’s cries. People seem to find it easier to resort to violence if they cannot see the damage they are doing; if they cannot see the innate humanness in their so-called adversaries. Violence begets separation, separation begets violence and fear only generates more fear. ‘Combatants for Peace’ seeks a way out of this whirlpool of death.”
The Combatants for Peace are former fighters from both Israel and Palestine who have declared that there is no military solution to their conflict. Now they are working together to end the Israeli occupation and bring peace to their homeland – and they are no strangers to success.
The bi-national, grassroots nonviolence movement is reaching thousands of people every year and changing minds and inspiring hope all over the world. Their memorial service reaches over 4,000 people annually and is live streamed everywhere from Haifa to Fort Collins, Colorado. They give classes and lectures to some 3,000 people nationally and internationally, and slowly the world is starting to wake up and hear their message.
Combatants for Peace have been widely praised in the international media: featured on the front page of New York Times, interviewed on CNN, the BBC and Al Jazeera, featured in the Jerusalem Post – which described Mahatma Gandhi as the inspiration for their nonviolence movement.
The Combatants for Peace movement has won a large handful of humanitarian and peace building awards in the past decade including the Search for Common Ground award in 2007, the Courage of Conscience Award in 2009 and the The Livia Foundation Conflict Resolution Award – among others.
The documentary made about them, ‘Disturbing the Peace,’ has won half a dozen more. But now, the Combatants have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, a prize richly deserved.
There is no other place in the world – and never before in history – where enemy fighters made the conscious decision to lay down their weapons and work together for peace, while their nations (and leaders) were enmeshed in and committed to war.
Certainly there have been peace movements in the past… but what does it take to stand up to your Nation, to stand up to your leaders and join hands with the “enemy” in order to make change? It takes a warrior.
It takes an act of supreme courage, and the incredible thing is: it might just work.
As Ahmad Tibi, an Arab-Muslim Israeli politician and leader of the Arab Movement for Change (Ta’al), declared, “The Combatants are sending a message: There is another way. No occupation and no more oppression. We are standing for peace and freedom. We will not give in to despair. The Combatants show the world that there is hope. When I look at each and every one of you, you are the message for hope, life, peace and another future.” -Ahmad Tibi
The Combatants for Peace are an inspiration for people everywhere. They show the world that peace and freedom are not only attainable in some distant future, but rather, they are putting effort to demand Peace and Freedom now. The Combatants are not only fighting for peace, dignity and equality, they are building a community dedicated to it. They provide a model of community, of activism, of hope and of change.
Together the Combatants for Peace are standing up to injustice and building a future where both Nations can live in peace.
Recently, American Hollywood star, Richard Gere asked to meet with the group. He said, “One of the reasons I wanted to meet you is because I do feel the potential. It’s very hard for the two sides to come together, but you’ve been through it. You’ve been through the fire. It’s only people who’s been through the fire that can speak the depth of feeling, the depths of wisdom in the subject.”
Their Nobel Peace Prize nomination is simply a reminder that peace isn’t something that just happens – it is something we must actively create.