As the peace community has become increasing marginalized, it has become more and more difficult to recruit young people into the community – and unfortunately the peace community in both societies has been aging. The youth are increasingly hopeless and do not believe peace is achievable.
This trend is happening in large part because of the increasing separation of Israeli and Palestinian societies, especially among young people who are coming of age in a post-2nd Intifada reality with highly restricted freedom of movement for Palestinians, and a marked decrease in dialogue or other cross cultural opportunities for meeting people from the other society. This segregation is both government enforced, as well as culturally enforced as it relates to both the trends towards anti-normalization in Palestinian society and a rightward shift overall in Israeli society.
In order to strengthen the joint struggle to end to the occupation and bring about a just peace for both peoples, there is a need for young Palestinians and Israelis to meet and build relationships based on trust, mutual respect and joint activism. The Combatants for Peace youth group is a new initiative, which seeks to create a new group, exclusively for youth aged 13-19. This group of teens will have adult mentors from within Combatants for Peace who help them learn how to tell their stories, guide them in building sustainable relationships with the “other,” challenge their notions of victimhood, and help empower them to stand up together and demand equality, justice and peace for both peoples.