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Brit Tzedek v'Shalom
Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace
Former Israeli, Palestinian Combatants to Speak Jan 16 at Temple Emanuel, Jan. 17 at JCC
Shalom New Haven
The speakers represent the Israeli-Palestinian group Combatants for Peace. They are coming to the new Haven area as part of a 22-city national tour in the United States sponsored by Brit Tzedek v'Shalom.
The Combatants for Peace movement was founded in 2005 by Israelis and Palestinians who were once actively involved in combat. After seeing one another only through weapon sights, they decided to put down their guns, and the 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 peoples.
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. They strive to put political pressure on both governments to stop the vicious cycle of violence and resume constructive dialogue.
Elhanan and Al Hamri will describe how their personal histories led them to believe that a negotiated two-state solution and the engagement fo the international community in facilitating it are critical to the national aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians.
Elik Elhanan is he 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 that 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 Palestinians who think like me."
Sulaiman Al Hamri is the Palestinian coordinator for Combatants for Peace. He spent four-and-a-half ears in Israeli prisons for his involvement in protests and demonstrations, before deciding to pursue a non-violent approach to resolving the conflict. He co-founded Combatants for Peace in April 2005, and has worked with other Israeli peace groups.