Saturday, May 06, 2006

Who says there's no hope in the Holy Land?

Nearly a month ago, the Christian Science Monitor published a story entitled "Enemy soldiers gather - to strive for peace." The article begins "Shunned by their respective governments, former Israeli and Palestinian fighters have been meeting in secret, seeking common ground." It goes on to describe what I hope will prove to be an exciting new development in Israel and Palestine.

I wonder if these courageous people have any plans to become involved with some of the youth reconciliation programs like Seeds of Peace and Seeking Common Ground. Like the Bereaved Families Circle, their voices seem to be real, meaningful, and challenging. If anything, I tend to believe those voices could be more helpful for Israeli and Palestinian youth than summer camp experiences.

The stark white room buzzes with Arabic and Hebrew conversation as a group of about 50 men jovially shake hands and arrange themselves in seats around its perimeter. The men range in age from 20 to 60. Some wear suits and polished shoes; others are dressed casually in sweat pants and T-shirts.

They have one thing in common: All are former combatants who struggled to defend their state - but half of them are former Israeli soldiers or pilots, while the other half are former Palestinian "freedom fighters," many of whom served time in Israeli jails.

These men once fought against each other. Together they form a new organization called Combatants for Peace, which - after being kept secret for a year - will make its public debut in Jerusalem on April 10. The date coincides with the Jewish holiday of Passover and Palestinian Prisoners Day, which is devoted to those detained in Israeli prisons.

Combatants for Peace brings together these ex-fighters to encourage dialogue, peace, and an end to conflict in the region.

Continued at the Christian Science Monitor website:

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