RAMALLAH, Aug 1 (JMCC) - 'Combatants for Peace,' a joint Israeli-Palestinian performing arts group that brings former fighters from both sides together in 'forum theatre,' is bringing a unique method to Middle East peace making.
Combatants for Peace was formed five years ago after a group of 12 Israeli soldiers who refused to serve in the territories met with four former Palestinian gunmen. Since that first meeting the group has grown and now has more than 150 members, and it recently won the prestigious Anna Lindh Award for Dialogue Between Culture.Read
We are the only joint bi-national group that uses this technique says Ben Yeger, the UK representative of the organisation and himself a former Israeli soldier. The benefit is that it bridges difference in a way that talking does not do on its own.
During their theatrical performances the Israelis in the group play the Palestinians and vice versa. There was one scene where I had to act like I was a Palestinian woman trying to get through a checkpoint says Ricky, an Israeli female member of the group, and for me, suddenly being forced to confront what Palestinians deal with on a daily basis, it was the moment when I completely understood what was being done in my name.
Trying to inhabit the world of the other side is also difficult for the Palestinian members of the group. Among the sixteen is one Palestinian man who was in prison for three life sentences for killing Palestinians who had been collaborating with the Israelis. There are also former members of Hezbollah in the party. These are people who were educated to hate Israelis, says Ben Yeger, so for them to even be in the same room as Israelis is huge for them.
more at the Guardian