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[Western MA] Save Jan.18th for Combatants for Peace!

To all on our Western Mass Brit tzedek mailing list:
We bring you a VERY SPECIAL OPPORTUNITY TO HEAR FROM an Israeli
and
Palestinian who renounced armed struggle to tour the world
calling for peace!
Thursday evening Jan. 18th at 7:30 p.m. At the Bangs Community
Center in Amherst

FORMER ISRAELI, PALESTINIAN COMBATANTS JOINED IN QUEST FOR PEACE

[Amherst]--A former Israeli soldier Elik Elhanan and a former
Palestinian combatant and prisoner Sulaiman Al Hamri will appear
together on Jan. 18th at [7:30 p.m.] at [the Bangs Community
Center in downtown Amherst] to advocate for non-violent
alternatives for achieving a resolution to the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The speakers, who represent the
Israeli-Palestinian group Combatants for Peace, are coming to
[Aamherst AND
Northampton] as part of a 22-city national tour to the United
States, sponsored by the chapters of Brit Tzedek v?Shalom, the
largest and most vibrant American Jewish peace movement
dedicated to the resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Elhanan and Al Hamri will share their experiences in
transitioning from veteran fighters to peace advocates with an
American Jewish audience for the first time. They will discuss
frankly the violent actions in which they have played a part and
the turning points at which each recognized the limited utility
of violence, as well as how their personal histories led them to
believe that a negotiated two-state solution and the engagement
of the international community in facilitating it are critical
to the national aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians.

Following a year of devastating bloodshed which further proved
the futility
of finding a military solution to the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict, these
men are bringing an innovative model for working together to end
the
violence.

The Combatants for Peace movement was founded in 2005 by
Israelis and Palestinians who were once actively involved in
perpetuating the cycle of violence. After having seen one
another only through weapon sights, they decided to put down
their guns, and to fight instead for peace through dialogue,
reconciliation and educational outreach. They believe that these
non-violent means offer the only opportunity to secure the
futures of their
respective people by working together to end the Israeli
occupation, halting the settlement project, and establishing a
Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem, alongside
the State of Israel.

In addition to organizing countless meetings between Israeli and
Palestinian veterans, the Combatants for Peace have worked
together to raise the consciousness in both larger Israeli and
Palestinian societies of the aspirations and fears of those on
the ?other side,? and in so doing to create partners in
dialogue. Through lectures, joint projects, non-violent
demonstrations and media outreach, the group members aim to
educate both peoples about the merits of non-violent struggle
and to put political pressure on both governments to stop the
vicious cycle of violence and resume constructive dialogue.
Elhanan is the Israeli coordinator of Combatants for Peace. He
is familiar with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict both as a
fighter and as a victim: from 1995 to 1998 he served as a
soldier in an IDF combat unit. In 1997 his sister was killed by
a Palestinian suicide bombing in Jerusalem.

?I have seen the damage the violence can cause,? he says. ?I
decided not to take part in that cycle anymore, and to work for
peace through dialogue and joint activities with other
Palestinians who think like me.? Elhanan believes that those who
are dedicated to peace, social justice and equality?be they
Israelis or Palestinians must separate themselves from
those who profit from or believe in violence as a way of life.

Al Hamri is the Palestinian coordinator for Combatants for
Peace. His long history of peace work includes co-founding
Combatants for Peace in April 2005, and working with other
Israeli peace groups such as Taayoush. Al Hamri also recently
participated in the Swedish Human Rights Forum as a guest
lecturer. He spent four-and-a-half years in Israeli prisons for
his involvement in anti-occupation protests and demonstrations,
before deciding
to pursue a non-violent approach to resolving the conflict.

Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace
(www.btvshalom.org ), is a national
grassroots movement with more than 35,000 supporters and 39
chapters, that educates and mobilizes American Jews in support
of a negotiated two-state resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict.

Western Mass co-chairs:
Nancy Felton nancyfelton@verizon.net
Carolyn Toll Oppenheim ctollopp@comcast.net

The Combatants for Peace movement
(http://www.combatantsforpeace.org
) was started jointly by
Palestinians
and Israelis, who have taken an active part in the cycle of
violence;
Israelis as soldiers in the Israeli army (IDF) and Palestinians
as part of
the violent struggle for Palestinian freedom. After brandishing
weapons for
so many years, and having seen one another only through weapon
sights, they
have decided to put down their guns, and to fight for peace.
--------------------------------------------------

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