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Must-See Documentary about ‘Combatants for Peace’

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By Robert Snyder

With the vanishing prospects of a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, it can be difficult to muster energy or optimism. But these are precisely the feelings prompted by the new film “Disturbing the Peace,” which chronicles the struggles of a bi-national organization of Israelis and Palestinians called “Combatants for Peace.”

“Combatants for Peace” stages nonviolent protests for “a mutually agreed upon solution that will allow both Israelis and Palestinians to live in freedom, security, democracy and dignity in their homeland.” According to The Nobel Peace Prize Watch, http://www.nobelwill.org/, which monitors nominations for the prize (which are officially secret), it has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

We screened “Disturbing the Peace” at Rutgers University-Newark last week and I enthusiastically encourage all of you to screen it on your campuses or in community organizations. The film is at once visionary, intelligent and realistically hard-headed.

At Rutgers University-Newark, our screening was powerfully supplemented by a discussion with one of the filmmakers, Marcina Hale, and two “combatants,” Sulaiman Khatib and Ella Naor.

Some of the ideas raised included:

1) In the present situation, arguing about one state, two states, and two homelands in one state is not useful. It is far better to pursue joint Israeli and Palestinian initiatives (like protests over the lack of civil equality) that will lay the groundwork for a big solution later.

2) The commitment to joint, nonviolent protest by Israelis and Palestinians is central to “Combatants for Peace.” As difficult as it can be to maintain this bi-national approach, it helps people in both camps get out of their respective bunkers.  

3) “Combatants for Peace” has arisen in part because the old Israeli left is weak and marginalized. Israel needs new organizations and new alignments to fight the occupation and pursue peace.

4) BDS is not helpful because academic boycotts reduce the possibilities for contacts between Israelis and Palestinians. Such contacts, which have grown ever more scarce, are essential to sustaining dialogue and building a bi-national movement for change.

All the speakers were good, but Sulaiman Khatib was especially insightful. I went into the event with the usual blend of despair, anger and frustration that shape my engagements with the question of Israel and Palestine. I left it with a margin for hope and some new ideas about how to move forward in difficult times.

I strongly encourage all to see the film and work to get it the widest possible viewing in the USA.

To arrange a screening, contact Reconsider at: DTPSCREENINGS@RECONSIDER.ORG

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