Op-Ed: On May 7th, a Joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Ceremony event will be held in Tel Aviv, with screening events across the USA. Here, Palestinian coordinator Adam Rabee (a member of Combatants for Peace) shares his story and why he is connecting with people from the “other side”.
Five years ago, I made a choice to walk the path of nonviolence. I realized that there is no military solution to our conflict, and I began meeting with, and eventually partnering with Israelis. But this wasn’t always my path. I was a young teenager in the beginning of the first Intifada, and at that time my world was full of violence and fear. I desperately wanted to protect myself and my family, and so I joined the local Fatah movement, and worked with local resistance groups.
Very quickly I became an activist who participated in the violent struggle for the freedom of Palestine. I spent years in jail as a result, and lost many friends to the violence. Eventually I realized that this never-ending circle of violence and reactivity only ever brought more hate and more conflict to both peoples.
There is a deep sense of hopeless in the Palestinian community. My friends and family do not believe me when I tell them that there is a partner for peace on the other side. Our communities often live shattered lives, struggling to survive under a harsh military occupation. Our children have trouble seeing Israelis as anything other than violent soldiers with guns. But I know that we have a partner – and that is why I work for peace.
The political process, the leadership, is blocked on both sides. But great change in any society rarely comes from the leaders. Rather, it is our duty to make our voices heard and transform our societies from within. It is time that we raise a new generation: a generation that believes (on both sides) in the right to live in peace with our neighbors, without the hate or the fear that has grown out of this ongoing conflict.
We, Combatants for Peace, and myself, want to show our dispirited people that there is hope. There are good human beings on both sides – and we do have a partner. The memorial ceremony brings our people hope and shows the world that there is another way. This is my third year attending the event, and my first year organizing it. I can tell you first-hand how incredibly important the event is for both Palestinian and Israeli societies. Its effectiveness is unparalleled, and truthfully, it is probably the most important event Combatants for Peace organizes all year.
I personally call upon you to join us in supporting this incredible event. Stand with us and show the world that real change is possible.