Run for Equality. Run for Peace. Run for Freedom.
Run to End the Occupation.
Just as Gandhi walked to bring an end to the occupation of India in the Great Salt March, activists all over the world are running to bring awareness and attention to the occupation of Palestine. Everyone, all over the world is welcome to run with us. You can join our cause if you are an experienced marathoner or are just a beginning runner. The minimum fundraising commitment to run with us is $250. Together we can bring freedom, peace and human rights to all people in Palestine and Israel.
The Jordan Valley Coalition
Launched in 2017, Combatants for Peace has partnered with Machsom Watch, Taayush and other human rights groups to defend the Jordan Valley against systematic violence and displacement from Israeli forces and settlers. We have accompanied shepherds on their daily work, provided protection from violence against farming communities in the area, and led advocacy with the military court system and Military Civil Administration of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. On November 12, 2017, we issued an open letter calling for urgent international intervention to prevent a massive forcible population transfer of Palestinians.
Combatants for Peace is actively challenging the ongoing human rights violations including: house demolitions; the denial of water supply; restricting Palestinian access to farmland, health care and education; repeated confiscation of farming machinery, residential tents, water tanks and livestock; and increasingly restrictive military checkpoints.
Jordan Valley Coalition Activity:
- Shepherds escort: The coalition manages a pool of activists from the Haifa and the North, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. These activists come in small groups to help Palestinian shepherds requesting escort. During escorts any incidents with either the IDF or settlers are documented.
- Legal documentation: In the last year we backed the activity on the ground with official complaints to the different Israeli military and civil authorities. This work has two objectives: The immediate objective is to try and stop human rights violations on the administrative level within days or hours of their occurrence. The second objective is to form an archive of official documentation, through the accumulation of legal letters and the documentation of the daily, systemic behaviors and events of the Israeli military in the Jordan Valley.
- Advocacy: open letters published online and on social media, as well as lectures and tours for Israelis and Internationals to see the situation on the ground
- Other ways of supporting the communities: We have built four playgrounds, and we use our network of volunteers for specific support in order to buy medicine for livestock, interface with military, create a record of events, etc.
Meet our Runners:
Ahmed Helou & Tuly Flint
Jericho, Palestine & Tel Aviv, Israel
As a teenager, my family moved to a settlement called Sha’arei Tikva. I worked alongside Palestinians in building the settlement: I was a high-school student from the Negev trying to earn some money, and they were residents of the nearby villages (Azzun-Atma, Beit Amin, Khares and other villages), trying to make a living. Through work, I got to know them and their families. When I was 18, I worked for about six months as a tour guide at the Ma’aleh Efraim Field School. I knew the Nablus area and the villages around it. These acquaintances made me think that maybe we could live together in the occupation as it is. I thought it was all right.
I wanted to contribute as much as possible and joined the Golani Brigade, an infantry combat brigade. I went to the medics’ course and was a company medic. I fought and treated the casualties on both sides. I went to an officers’ course and returned to Golani as a young officer. During the first Intifada I was a platoon commander in Gaza. We received the order to “break hands and feet” which I’m glad to say I did not to follow, but I know of others who did. I saw it with my own eyes, and did other things that I regret doing today. I decided to stay in the army because I had an educational vision – I wanted to influence from within, so that things would be done humanely. I had been in the Occupied Territories many times and I had done everything that was required of me – arrests, roadblocks, and house demolitions, all in a way that I thought was humane and easier for the population. I believed in an “enlightened occupation”. I was wrong.
I finished my service, and studied a Bachelor’s of Social Work and a Masters in clinical practice. I began to focus on treating trauma and post-trauma, mainly in the context of war and terror. In the reserves I advanced in rank and during the Second Lebanon War I was already a deputy battalion commander and later a lieutenant colonel. I commanded 700 soldiers. I finished my role as a battalion commander and moved on to serve as a therapist.
The 2014 war in Gaza, a.k.a. Operation Protective Edge, shocked me. I saw up close the suffering of the soldiers and the Palestinians. I re-discovered what I had known long ago: the eyes and gaze of the trauma victims are the same eyes and gaze on both sides. Broken eyes asking, and now what? I met soldiers with Moral Injury for whom I had no answers. There was not an individual event that pushed me to be an activist for equality and peace – it was a continuum of unnecessary suffering on both sides. I joined Combatants for Peace about three years ago. Currently, I am the Israeli General Coordinator for the movement. Working with Palestinian former fighters/combatants is healing my heart. For me, the movement is a bridge between being a combat fighter and being a man of equality and peace.
Tuly Flint, an accredited EMDR consultant, and an accredited Couples and Family therapist, and trained in Somatic Experiencing, CBT, Biofeedback and Narrative therapy both for families and individuals, holds a Masters degree in clinical social work from Tel Aviv University and is a speciallist in trauma and post trauma (PTSD) treatment with individuals, families and groups. He has a private practice in Tel Aviv and works in the southern parts of Israel with individuals, groups, families, young children and teenagers who go through traumatic events.
Ahmed was born in Jericho. At the age of 15, Ahmed joined the local Hamas movement. He raised Palestinian flags and threw stones at soldiers. In 1992 Ahmed was sentenced to seven months in Israeli army prison as a political detainee. During family visits Ahmad first learnt of the Oslo agreements and was amazed to learn that the Palestinian flag could now be flown freely. In prison Ahmed decided that there must be other ways to fight for liberation without risking death or lengthy prison sentences. He began looking for ways to help heal the conflict and end the occupation, while at the same time helping the people who are suffering.
After his incarceration Ahmed finished his studies and began volunteering in the Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances. During the 1996 clashes in East Jerusalem Ahmed provided medical attention to many of the wounded Palestinians. At one instance he ran to help an unconscious man and to his surprise, discovered his close friend from Jericho, Firas. Ahmed immediately lifted his friend in his arms and began running towards the ambulance, but was shot in his back, and collapsed. On his way to the hospital Ahmed fell in and out of consciousness. In one lucid moment he heard the doctor ordering the paramedic to cease the revival efforts of the second patient in the Ambulance – his friend, Firas, died in the incident. After six months of rehabilitation Ahmed slowly began to walk, though the bullet is still in his back to this very day. At the age of thirty Ahmed married Hiba, also originally from Gaza. Sixteen years have passed since Hiba has been able to meet her family in Gaza. Their four children have never met their grandparents.
Ahmed met civilian Israelis for the first time in various dialogue groups during the second intifada. He admits that up until then, all he knew about Israelis was from soldiers and check points. Even Though Ahmed and Hiba lost tens of their relatives to the numerous wars on Gaza, he thinks that bi-national cooperation is the only way to end the occupation and achieve peace.
Michael Feigenbaum, Omar Mansour & Guy Felixbrodt
New York City & Vancouver, Canada
Guy Felixbrodt is a life long educator, who has worked with all ages between one and twenty one and beyond. Guy is passionate about learning on the move through games, athleticism and juggling. He is Israeli, and currently resides in New York City.
“During my time as a Navy officer in the Israeli army, I was stationed in the waters off the shore of the Gaza strip. Our job was to patrol the waters to prevent the infiltration of terrorists and/or weapons and ammunition into Gaza that could then be used against Israel. One day we were ordered to stop a small fishing boat in order to inspect it. We called the fisherman to halt, but he didn’t stop. When I fired my gun in the air he started to flee in panic. In the end we fired a big shell right next to his boat, the water exploded and he finally stopped. His large nets were almost tangled from his haste and fear. His relief was palpable when we finally let him go. I saw in that instance how each side is simply trying to go about their mission: protect their country, feed their family. But due to differing narratives and a lack of compassion these narratives collide and cause us all to suffer. I realized how little I had been taught about my neighbors lives and I yearned for understanding. Ever since then I have pursued knowledge, compassion and peace. To this day I am still inspired by the late prime minister Rabin’s words: “Peace is made with enemies.”
I was born in Saudi Arabia to a Communist, Palestinian family from Gaza. When I was small, my family lived in Lebanon, where both my parents were pursuing their masters degrees. At the same time they were activists working to free Palestine. We moved back to Saudi Arabia when my parents decided to end their political life and shift to the banking sector instead. When I was 13, they sent me to a Christian school in the Gaza Strip, where we spent a lot of time studying marxism, capitalism, imperialism, and colonialism. While living in Gaza, I worked with several different international organizations, and had the chance to work with a lot of foreigners.
When I was 17, I was accepted into many universities in Europe and the USA, but I couldn’t pursue my studies abroad because of the Israeli blockade – there was no way into or out of Gaza since 2006. We were trapped. I spent more than 13 years of my life living in the big, open-air prison we call Gaza. We had 4 hours of electricity per day (usually at random times or in the middle of the night), little food, and even less water. The hospitals were empty of equipment and medicines, and the schools were short of books, pens and other necessities. There was little hope of employment, and hope was in short supply. The living conditions were inhospitable and inhumane.
I wanted to continue my studies, and was able to study Computer science while still living in Gaza. During my studies, I worked to improve the local farmer’s living conditions, helping them export their products to the EU in order to earn a living. I lived through three wars: three attacks on the Gaza strip. The shelling was unbearable, and I lost many friends and family members – more than I can count. In 2014, my University was destroyed by the Israeli war jets. In response, Canada offered me an education, and I was able to leave and start a new chapter of my life abroad. I finished my Masters degree in Global Business and since then I have studied, lived, traveled, and worked in over 13 countries around the world. I have worked with people from many diverse backgrounds and have been constantly amazed by the beauty of different cultures.
Today I live in British Columbia and work as a Global Business consultant. My goal is to take a leading position in Canadian international policies, and hope to help Palestine and Israel move towards reconciliation with justice and human rights for all. I despise racism and all forms of apartheid, and I believe deeply in the beauty of diversity. I am running for Peace because I know that it is the only way forward.
“Growing up in Haifa, Israel, a city of coexistence between all religions has profoundly imprinted in me our basic need for acceptance of others and peaceful coexistence between peoples. Serving in the IDF I was stationed in Lebanon, the West Bank, Gaza and the Jordan valley among others – where I experienced the cycle of violence first hand. I realized that my military service ran counter to the values that I grew up with. When I entered the military I thought I was doing it to protect my family – but I realized that by engaging in violence, I was only perpetuating the cycle even further. It was this experience that taught me the need to make a choice, and I choose peace. Since then, traveling the world as an artist has strengthened my resolve. With each passing day, I realize more and more that the need for this choice is a global one! It is up to each of us to make the decision to walk away from violence, occupation and unnecessary war – and forge a new path. This is why I’m running for peace.”
Performer & rhythm specialist- creates and teaches as a dancer and musician for theater and live television. Michael has performed internationally for the last 18 years in theaters, arenas and TV around the world in front of millions of spectators, collaborating in award winning shows with Franco Dragone (Cirque Du Soleil, The Han Show), Marc Routh (Stomp), Israel’s Mayumama, Voca People and David Broza, to name a few.
“The Han Show” by Franco Dragone (Wuhan, China).
“The Voca People” (Off-Broadway, Lucile Lortel award).
“Momentum” by Mayumana (Off-Broadway, Israel’s Theater Award).
“The House of Dancing Waters” by Franco Dragone (Macau, China).