The Combatants for Peace use non-violent methods, such as Theater of the Oppressed tactics, to promote dialogue and a joint effort to end the occupation of Palestine. Recently this group, Israelis who were once soldiers in the Israeli army (IDF) and Palestinians who were once involved in the militant struggle for freedom, chose the blocked road that ascends to the village Shufa (near Tul Karm, West Bank) as their stage. The scene was a checkpoint within the West Bank. The scenario was a typical daily occurrence: an old, ill Palestinian arrives at a checkpoint (where he presumably needs to cross to seek medical care), and the soldiers have to decide to let him pass or detain and interrogate him to follow standard procedure. However, the roles of the cast were switched: an Israeli played the sick Palestinian man, while Palestinians played the two Israeli soldiers.
As Chen Alon, an Israeli CFP organizer, reflected on the scene and mentioned, “how little freedom is left to me when they give me a role I didn’t choose,” an actual army Jeep with soldiers suddenly appeared informing the group that the place was off limits. Sensing the irony, the mixed Israeli and Palestinian audience burst into laughter. Later an equally ironic but much less humorous situation arose: a car belonging to settlers from Avnei Hefetz (near Shufa) blocked the group’s bus thinking they were trying to organize a new settlement there. Alon recalls, “after realizing who we [were], one of the settlers said to his children: ‘You see, children, those people are worse than the Arabs.'”
The Combatants for Peace (600 members and growing) continue to oppose such racist thoughts and stereotypes by adhering to the belief that violent solutions to the conflict are impossible, thus they will operate in nonviolent ways to attain peace, cooperation and understanding. Visit the Haaretz site for the full story of the staged event along with interviews of participants, click here for photos of the demonstration, and check out the Combatants for Peace site for more info about their history, mission and actions.