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Former Israeli Soldiers and Palestinian Fighters Unite for Peace

June 9, 2009

This story reminds me of Jesus in Matthew chapter 5-7.   Combatants for Peace is a group of former Palestinian fighters and Israeli soldiers who have united to reject violence and tell their stories to each other as a way of finding peace. As a teenager Bassam Aramin was imprisoned by Israeli forces for flying the Palestinian flag. He became more militant and later received a seven year sentence for planning an attack on Israelis. In prison, he and one of his jailors began a dialogue—not to convince each other, but to understand each other. Then in 2005 he met a former Israeli soldier, who told the story of all he had ever done in his career: humiliating Palestinians at checkpoints, torturing them, cutting down their olive trees. As Aramin listened his anger grew. When the soldier finished his story, Aramin told him: “I want to eat you.” But Aramin was frustrated because the soldier wouldn’t argue with him—he agreed that what he had done was wrong. Not to be outdone Aramin told of all that he had done—even exaggerating so that his deeds would be comparable to that of his enemy. At the end, the other man replied: “I want to eat you.” But somehow through this telling of stories and honest anger, these men became friends, and eventually partners in the search for peaceful solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Then, on January 16, 2007, Aramin’s 10-year-old daughter was shot in the head and killed by Israeli soldiers while she was walking home from school. Aramin has made repeated requests to speak with the soldier responsible, but has received no response. He is a man deeply committed to peace, even after suffering such senseless loss.

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