NEWS RELEASE - On October 5th 2017, the CIPADH attended a meeting organized by B8 of Hope and presenting the documentary movie “Disturbing the Peace” produced by the field association “Combatants for Peace”, which was nominated for the Peace Nobel Price this year. The viewing of the movie was followed by a roundtable between the spectators and Chen Alon, a former Israeli soldier and Suleiman Khatib, a former Palestinian fighter who both created this association. This news release will, in its first part, give general details about the association. It will then explain the important and relevant subjects and topics present in the movie and in the roundtable that followed before concluding.
Combatants for Peace
This association was created in 2006 by Chen Alon and Suleiman Khatib. They both fought for their respective countries, Israel and Palestine, before deciding that they would rather combat without using weapons in order to finally establish peace. They produced a movie entitled “Disturbing the Peace” in order to raise awareness around the world about the situation on the field and propose actions that will help improve it and lead it towards peace.
Relevant topics and subjects mentioned in the movie
Some important situations were mentioned and showed in the movie. At one point, an Israeli soldier explains that if they liberate the Palestinians and give them freedom in their territory, they will come and attack them in Tel Aviv. The conflict has been going on for so long that they are now scared to let them go because of their thirst for revenge. That is why they keep them in control. This shows how far their mind is set about the conflict because they were born and raised in it.
It was then highlighted that there is blood in both sides: it has the same color and causes the same suffering. Blood brings more blood, so combating with weapons shouldn’t be a solution anymore. People from both sides of the conflict started slowly realizing that both parties were wrong. A mother that loses a child will suffer the same amount whether she is from Israel or Palestine or anywhere in the world.
A meeting was then organized by both parties to discuss. In the movie, you see them preparing to go to the meeting in Jerusalem. It was interesting to see that they both were really suspicious and scared. They thought it was a trap and brought weapons in case they would have to use them. When they all arrived, both sides were seeing the other one as terrorists or asked themselves if these people killed their families. There was palpable tension in the room; it took a while before both parties started to be confortable enough in order to have a constructive conversation. They both agreed that the first step in order to restore peace is to confess, even tough they will bring more tensions. Knowing that, both parties made efforts to remain calm. All of these efforts were made for peace. They began to be more and more comprehensive towards each other, which led to more productivity. “Combatants for Peace” was then created.
Both activists explained that this association is not only about this conflict; it is about setting an example for the whole world. It is a long-term change they are aiming for. It was challenging for them to grow up with certain narratives and then leave their comfort zone to meet the other side. It took a whole year of secret meetings in order to confess the stories.
They then explained that they have a lot of political discussions about possible solutions but the drastic change will obviously have to come from the governments. As soon as they find a solution that corresponds to everyone, they will directly apply it. The problem is that today people are becoming more and more hopeless so it is thus becoming more difficult to apply solutions. Now is the time to think out of the box and embody the hope left, not just talk about it. A few years ago, Chen and Souleiman were willing to kill each other. Now they are like brothers and this did not happen because of politicians and leaders. During the discussion, it was also mentioned that one of the problems lies in the unwillingness of certain politicians to act “in order not to loose the few votes they need”. So they are presenting alternatives to political-based solutions. Their role is to hold the hope and show people that it can be done. They believe in the right of people to live in freedom, safety and dignity. This is much more important than drawing maps.
Last year they celebrated 10 years of Combatants for Peace and had a march for freedom with around 700-800 people, which was well covered by the media. They also organized summer camps, football games and cooking classes for both sides to be together and a lot of great things happened. There is still a lot of hatred but when you put Israelis and Palestinians together, 9 times out of 10 friendships are made.
These two men have proven that the impossible is possible. They have a great amount of hope to restore peace. When fighting on the field jeopardizes this hope, they think about Nelson Mandela, Gandhi and Martin Luther King and continue their combat.
By Taline Bodart