Combatants For Peace: It Won't Stop Until We Talk

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With the toxic Bibi circus in town - cue talk of "tentacles of terror," a "march of conquest," a "nuclear threshold" and an Iran that "cannot be trusted," presumably as opposed to a morally upright Israel - find hope in the extraordinary efforts of Combatants For Peace, a joint movement of Israeli and Palestinian veterans of the ongoing cycle of violence who, "after brandishing weapons for so many years, and having seen one another only through weapon sights...have decided to put down our guns and to fight for peace." The group is led by two former combatants - a longtime soldier in the IDF and a Fatah resistance fighter who spent seven years in Israeli jails - who both lost their daughters to war. Mindfully "not waiting for our governments," they refuse to further take part in "the mutual bloodletting"  and argue that "only by joining forces will we be able to end the cycle of violence...and the oppression of the Palestinian people."

Combatants hold activities ranging from reconciliation meetings where Israeli and Palestinian veterans hear and try to understand the others' narratives, workshops at schools and youth groups, art and theater projects, tree plantings, non-violent demonstrations and other joint programs aimed at creating "partners in dialogue" - efforts they hope will pressure both governments to do the same. They've undertaken collaborations with The Forgiveness Project, inspired the award-winning documentary, "Within the Eye of the Storm," and worked with IWagePeace, which is now running an Indiegogo fundraising campaign and matching grant offer.

Formed in 2005, the group has adopted the mantra of the Parents Circle, Family Forum - another joint effort by families who've lost loved ones to "unrightable wrongs" - that, "It won't stop until we talk." At the root of the hate, fear and loss that has scarred all their lives and perpetuated an immoral Occupation, leaders stress, is "the refusal to talk. To really talk. To speak and to listen. To hear what is painful and to say what you fear to say. To talk not only to those with whom one feels comfortable, but with those whom you don’t trust and don’t like. To talk to your enemies." From the Palestinian father: "I lost my daughter but I did not lose my mind...For the memory of our children we go on...The easiest thing is to take revenge, whilst the hardest is to build bridges between people. We want to prove that partners for peace always exist. You only have to look for them."

Help make this, not Bibi's warmongering, the Israeli-Palestinian reality. Say those seeking a better way, "Your voice is critical, now more than ever."

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