Israeli and Palestinian ex-combatants visit UK to promote non-violence and end to occupation
Sixteen members of Combatants for Peace - a bi-national movement of Israelis and Palestinians who have put down their guns to engage in dialogue, reconciliation and joint non-violent struggle - will be visiting the UK during 21-30 July to promote a message of non-violence as a means of ending the occupation and helping to end the Middle East conflict.
Comprising former members of the Israeli Army and Palestinian armed groups, the 16 will be giving public talks, staging theatrical events and talking part in workshops in London, Coventry and Warrington.
The tour, being hosted by the community arts organisation Encounters (www.encounters-arts.org.uk) in association with Amnesty International UK, will see the group staging theatrical events and running workshops based on their remarkable personal stories. The 16, from Tel Aviv in Israel and Tul-Karem in the occupied West Bank, regularly risk arrest and face persecution from their own communities for their activities, including for crossing into so-called “no-entry zones” to meet face-to-face with members of the “other side”.
Members available for interview include Nour Shehadeh (1), 40, a former leader of his local Fatah military wing who was arrested and detained by the Israeli authorities several times, and Chen Alon (2), a former major in the armoured corp of the Israeli army who fought in the first intifada of 1987, was called up during the second intifada and later became one of the founders of the “refusniks”, spending time in jail.
Combatants for Peace’s UK Representative Ben Yeger said:
“We no longer believe that the conflict can be resolved through violence. We believe that the bloodbath will not end unless we act together to terminate the occupation and stop all forms of violence.
“We’re calling for the establishment of a Palestinian State alongside the State of Israel, and we will use only non-violent means to achieve our goals.”
Amnesty International UK Campaign Manager Kristyan Benedict said:
“What Combatants for Peace’s members are doing is remarkable and we support them in their aim of seeing Israelis and Palestinians living peacefully together with their human rights and dignity respected and protected.”
Timetable of events
Warrington Peace Centre (www.foundation4peace.org)
Sat 24 July, 10am-5.30pm: “Rainbow of Identities” workshop led by Combatants for Peace
Sat 24 July, 7.30-9.30pm: “No Victory in Violence”: an evening with Combatants for Peace
Centre for Peace and Reconciliation Studies, Coventry University (www.coventry.ac.uk/peacestudy)
Tues 27 July, 7.30-9.30pm: “No Victory in Violence”: an evening with Combatants for Peace
Frontline Club, London (www.frontlineclub.com)
Wed 28 July, 7-9pm: Israel and Palestine: Combatants for Peace, chaired by the Guardian’s Middle East editor Ian Black
Amnesty International UK, Human Rights Action Centre, London (www.amnesty.org.uk)
Thur 29 July, 10am-5.30pm: “Rainbow of Occupation” workshop with Adrian Jackson, Theatre of the Oppressed expert and Artistic Director of Cardboard Citizens Theatre Company
Thur 29 July, 7-9.30 pm: “No Victory in Violence”: an evening with Combatants for Peace, chaired by Kristyan Benedict, Amnesty International
(1) for more information on Nour Shehadeh: http://cfpeace.org/?cat=6&story_id=657
(2) for more information on Chen Alon: http://cfpeace.org/?cat=6&story_id=686
For more information on Encounters: www.encounters-arts.org.uk/currentprojects.htm#combatants