3/14/2009: Courage of Conscience Speaking Tour
Date: Saturday March 14th, 4:00-6:00 PM Location: Temple Kerem Shalom, Concord MA
Combatants for Peace Yaniv Reshef and Bassam Aramin Show a Way to Stop Brutality in Israel and Palestine
Former Soldier | Former Fighter
Israeli Yaniv Rashef, whose home is in range of Gaza missiles, was a foot soldier in a sabotage unit of the Israeli Army – and chose to fight no more. Palestinian Bassam Aramin served seven years in jail for planning an attack against Israeli soldiers – and chose no more violence. Just two years ago, Bassam lost his daughter to an Israeli soldier’s rubber-coated bullet. They are Combatants for Peace, now over 600 former Israeli soldiers and former Palestinian fighters, working together without revenge to justice, peace – and playgrounds.
Bassam Aramin, 41, was awarded the 2007 Eliav-Sartawi Award for Middle Eastern Journalism by Search for Common Ground in NY and the Bremen Peace Award, in Germany. Born in a Palestinian village near Hebron, he is a former member of Fatah who served a 7 year prison sentence after being arrested at age 17 for helping to plan an armed attack against Israeli soldiers. As he has written in the Jewish Daily Forward, “But as I served out my sentence, I talked with many of my guards. I learned about the Jewish people’s history. I learned about the Holocaust. And eventually I came to understand: On both sides, we have been made instruments of war. On both sides, there is pain, and grieving, and endless loss.” Mr. Aramin is married and had 6 children. His late daughter Abir was killed by an Israeli soldier’s rubber coated steel bullet while walking home from school. Besides being a founding member of Combatants for Peace, he heads the Al Quds Association for Democracy and Dialogue in Jerusalem and is a director at the Palestine National Archives in Ramallah. He has been accepted into the Masters of Peace Studies program at Bradford University for fall, 2009.
Yaniv Reshef, 37, is an active member of Combatants for Peace, working with former Palestinian and Israeli combatants in the southern Israel / Hebron area. Yaniv lives in Israel, just 19 km from Gaza in an agricultural community that suffers frequent missile attacks. He believes that Combatants for Peace offer a tangible way for people to stop the brutality – and he helped organized C4P meetings in the neighboring large town of Sderot so that townspeople could hear his Palestinian and Israeli partners first hand. Formerly a foot soldier in a sabotage unit of the Israeli Army, he served in Lebanon and in the Occupied Territories between the years of 1991-1998, then chose not to go into the army reserves because he does not agree with Israel’s state policy in the Occupied Territories. Yaniv, a historian by education, has worked as a newspaper editor and web-designer most recently for a nonprofit in nearby Sderot, providing services to people with disabilities and children. He is now building his house in Nir Akiva (lit. Akiva Meadows) the agricultural cooperative where he was born. Until 1948 this area was the Palestinian village of Kawfakha.
Combatants for Peace
Combatants for Peace are former Israeli and Palestinian fighters who no longer see each other as enemies. They are a movement numbering over 600 former Israeli soldiers and former Palestinian fighters, who now work together without revenge, using nonviolence to build justice, peace – and playgrounds. Aramin lost his ten year old daughter to an Israeli soldier’s rubber bullet, Reshef lives in range of Gaza missiles–yet both hold a deep commitment to working with one another, to end the violence and make peace.
Donations to cover travel expenses for the Combatants for Peace are most welcome