Combatants for Peace

April 19, 2017

Combat Peace


Combatants for Peace was founded in 2005 by former Israeli soldiers and former Palestinian militants who decided to collectively put down their weapons and nonviolently fight for peace after connecting to the personal stories that they all shared with one another. Now it is led by at least 14 leaders from the Palestinian perspective and 17 leaders from the Jewish Israeli perspective, coming together to create a third space where they can find a new means for peace. Combatants for Peace believes that only through partnering together through nonviolent means will the bloodshed, settlement project, and overall occupation end. They seek to educate toward reconciliation and nonviolent struggle in both Palestinian and Israeli societies, and to pressure both authorities to terminate violence, end the occupation, and begin a constructive dialogue.

Below are two examples of some of the leaders, which can all be found on the group’s website here: Combatants for Peace.

Oren

 

Oren Kalisman was in the Israeli army as a lieutenant and then as a platoon commander, and he grew up becoming used to ignoring the Arabs’ presence in Israel. However, he slowly began to turn against the Israeli side, and the tipping point was when one Palestinian shot and killed one Israeli Jew, and in return the army killed 15 Palestinian police officers in revenge. After this event, he participated in “Breaking the Silence”.

SulimanSuliman al-Khatib is a Palestinian Arab who, at a very early age, joined the “Fatah” movement against the Israeli Occupation. After an occurrence where he stabbed Israeli soldiers, he was sent to jail for 10 years, and there he joined multiple groups, participated in discussion, read, and realized that there were many more narratives than he was first taught. He believes there is no military solution, only a joint, nonviolent struggle for peace, freedom, security, and human rights for all.


Combat Protest

A picture of Combatants for Peace at a protest staged by one of its regional bi-national groups.

Combatants for peace is based off of regional bi-national groups, each headed by one Israeli and one Palestinian coordinator.


Bethlehem-tour

One of the projects that they work on is doing an area tour of Bethlehem to see the separation wall, as seen above, to hear tales from local villagers, show participants the reality of the Occupation, and to see Combatants for Peace activists at work. These tours occur monthly, and afterwards is a talk between all participants from all sides and nationalities. This is one of the most direct creations of a third space here, an opportunity to inform and cross boundaries that might not have been breached before.


Every year the group, associated with other organizers, puts on a Memorial Day Ceremony in order to mourn the lives lost and give hope towards reaching a united goal, trying to break the barriers of the ideals so strongly held on both sides that push people to try to find solutions that do not align with the reality of the situation. The event will be live-streamed on April 30th

Here is a clip from the 2015 ceremony: Memorial Day Ceremony Clip


They are also supporting and helped create a new documentary, entitled “Disturbing the Peace.” Here is a description as is found on their website:

“World torn by conflict — in a place where the idea of peace has been abandoned — an energy of determined optimism emerges. When someone is willing to disturb the status quo and stand for the dream of a free and secure world, who will stand with them?… “Disturbing the Peace” follows former enemy combatants — Israeli soldiers from elite units and Palestinian fighters, many of whom served years in prison — who have joined together to challenge the status quo and say “enough.” The film reveals their transformational journeys from soldiers committed to armed battle to nonviolent peace activists, leading to the creation of combatants for peace.”

The film shows the steps that both sides are taking to not buy into one narrative. For the Israeli soldiers, this is a more difficult step as they are fighting a meta-Zionist narrative and the ideas of security that are supposedly justifying all of their actions that they have always been taught. Stepping away from viewing the Palestinians as the “other,” the ones who are barbaric and are threatening their existence, to seeing them as their neighbors who they have expelled and put under an Occupational regime.

A trailer of the film: Disturbing the Peace — Documentary

Ryan Averill


Influencing Works and Citations:

Jessica Benjamin, “Beyond Doer and Done To: An Intersubjective View of Thirdness,” Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 73:5; 5-46, 2004.

Ali Abu Nima, “United, Democratic State in  Palestine-Israel,” One Country: Metropolitan Books (New York), 101-133, 2006.

Edward Said, “Orientalism,” Vintage Books, 1979.

Combatants for Peace

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Co-existence

April 19, 2017

While researching various “peaceful coexistence” efforts in Palestine-Israel, I found many that put the “cart before the horse.” Such groups rely on the premise that peace can be achieved if only each side gets to know each other. Despite good intentions, this is quite naiive. When each child leaves the safety of summer camp, differences in ethnicity and citizenship ultimately prevent democratic coexistence. In other words: the challenge is structural, not mental. This week’s reading, “A United, Democratic State in Palestine-Israel,” (and Azoulay and Ophir’s One State Condition) speaks to this challenge. Informed by historical examples, all one-state solutions mentioned are built on the same premises: reconciliation entails mutual recognition and separation would “require each side to give up more than it is able”. Specifically, the Right of Return, Law of Return, and settlements must all be deemed legitimate. Today, however, Israeli’s far right government seeks to ignore mutual recognition and deny human rights. Permanent occupation, Arab Israeli disenfranchisement, and internationally-condemned settlements continue to perpetuate one-state with Jewish control. Thus, coexistence means political action and regime change. But with slow success within the political system, some Israelis choose the route of direct action and civil disobedience to establish their own facts on the ground.

Taayush-transparent

Ta’ayush in Arabic means “Living Together” or “Coexistence.”  It is also the name of an Israeli-Palestinian solidarity/activist group. Formed in 2000, the group’s mission is to “end the Israeli occupation and to achieve full civil equality through daily non-violent direct-action” (Ta’ayush Website). Non-violent is the operative word and their resistance rejects both violent Israeli occupation and violent Palestinian actions.

Hebron-argue
Indiologist and Ta’ayush activist David Shulman (on the right) recently donated his Israel Prize money to Ta’ayush (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLKxtrJHd_s)

Ta’ayush does most of its work in area C of the Occupied territories, most notably in the South Hebron Hills. There they strive to support Palestinian farmers “in their struggle to retain their homes and agricultural lands” (Website). The Bedouins specifically, whose shepherding lifestyle is under threat, benefit enormously from Ta’ayush activism. Specific actions include aiding in farm work, physically protecting farmers, repairing water cisterns, repaving roads, organizing convoys of food and medical supplies, reoccupying “illegal” Palestinian villages, and aiding in legal issues. The Ta’ayush website also features well-written blogs from activists as part of Ta’ayush’s mission to shed light on the occupation. The blogs also offer a glimpse into the meaningful friendships developed through solidarity.

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Ta’ayush activists repairing a cistern (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyFqHRwP7ok)

With Azoulay and Ophir’s “planes of power” in mind, the privilege of Jewish Israeli citizenship allows Ta’ayush activists to be civilly disobedient.  They can confront threatening soldiers and settlers with fewer repercussions. And often just their presence prevents intrusive actions by settlers. That said, it is dangerous work and activists are often arrested, slandered, and physically hurt by tear gas, rubber bullets, or rocks.  But it is  Ta’ayush’s determination in the face of adversity that should give us hope. Obviously, there is much geopolitical uncertainty in the era of Trumps and a democratic state with Israeli-Palestinian coexistence seems far away. Thus, in the meantime, it is especially imperative for those with privilege to resist the occupation in all ways possible, whether through boycotts, political actions, or direct actions.

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Ta’ayush activist being harassed by masked settlers

Author: Collin Ginsburg

Works Cited

Abunimah, Ali. One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. New York: Metropolitan, 2006. Print.

Azoulay, Ariella, and Adi Ophir. The One-state Condition: Occupation and Democracy in Israel/Palestine. Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 2013. Print.

Guybo111. “David Shulman – Israel Prize Winner Donates Cash Award for Ta’ayush.” YouTube. YouTube, 12 May 2016. Web. 19 Apr. 2017.

Taayush. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2017.

The West Bank(sy)

April 18, 2017

2017 marks a historic year, it has been 100 years since the British occupation of Palestine and the start of the issues being faced today in the region. As a testament to the struggle, the well-known anonymous graffiti artist Banksy has opened The Walled Off Hotel, filled with his artwork, in the West Bank only steps from the separation wall.

front entrance

“The Walled Off Hotel” front entrance

The Hotel will be up for at least a year and is completely open to tourists who can: stay in rooms filled with his artwork

banksy room.jpg

Every room in the hotel is filled with Banksy artwork depicting the Israeli-Palestine conflict (often through a sarcastic lens)

visit the gallery

gallery

The Gallery is filled with independent artwork, all represent the conflict but come from various artists. Everyone may visit whether they are staying at the hotel or not.

have a drink at the piano bar

piano bar

The Banksy style is found everywhere, note the security camera “trophies” on the wall

or even buy spray paint and tools to mark the separation wall which, in their words is “not not illegal as the wall itself remains illegal under international law.”

the wall graffitti

The hotel house a “Wall*Mart” which will sell the tools needed as well as expert advice on how best to mark your section of the wall

The hotel tags itself as the hotel with “the worst view in the world” and hopes to draw the attention of locals and tourists alike in order to create a common ground on which to view the conflict from both sides and to spread the knowledge of this ordeal to hopefully broaden international discussion into resolving it.

wost view.jpg

The worst view in the world, complete with bay windows and a telescope

The artist himself has said that he will not be receiving any revenue from this hotel but instead the money gathered will first go towards breaking even the costs of creating it and then will go to local projects. Not only is the hotel open to everyone but it is run as an “independent local business” and therefore acts as a common ground for all to visit and participate in.

Through this project Banksy hopes to “tell the story from every side and give visitors the opportunity to discover it for themselves”. The hotel effectively creates a third space in order to disseminate knowledge and allow visitors to leave and contemplate what they have learned, spreading this knowledge and hopefully raising awareness.

Author: Nicolas Abbott

Sources:

http://banksy.co.uk/index.html

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-palestinians-banksy-hotel-idUSKBN16R1RC

https://www.dezeen.com/2017/03/13/banksy-opens-art-filled-hotel-along-west-bank-barrier-hotels-interiors/