NH Council of Churches - Former Israeli Soldier, Former Palestinian Fighter Launch U.S. Speaking Tour

Synagogues, Churches, Mosques, Universities Hosting Their Viable Message of Peace

February 23, 2009 Concord, NH - On Saturday, February 28th, Palestinian former fighter Bassam Aramin and Israeli former soldier Yaniv Reshef, members of the Jerusalem-based Combatants for Peace (C4P), will launch a U.S. speaking tour to present Americans a tangible way to stop the brutality between Israel and Palestine. They are Combatants for Peace, 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.

Mr. Aramin is a former Fatah fighter, who served seven years in jail from the age of seventeen for planning an attack against Israeli soldiers - and chose no more violence. Mr. Reshef was a foot soldier in a sabotage unit of the Israeli Army - and chose to fight no more.


The Courage of Conscience comes to NH on March 1, 4 PM - Community Church Durham; March 4 & 5 - Keene; March 11, 7 PM - So. NH Univ. Manchester; March 12, 7 PM - Unitarian Universalist Church Concord. In NH they will be hosted by and speaking at churches, schools and universities. The common thread is wider public knowledge of possibilities for peace in the Middle East.


"Combatants for Peace is growing, forming new groups, committed to talk and work together in every situation, even in this tragic time of political extremism," said Mr. Aramin who was one of the original founders of Combatants for Peace. "We will not stop; we cannot let our peoples down."


The tourbegins in Boston and continues on to New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey and Washington DC. Aramin and Reshef will be awarded the Courage of Conscience Award on March 13th at the Peace Abbey, in Sherborn MA, accompanied by an exhibition of stitchery art depicting their work called "Piecing the Pieces" by Wash. D.C. artist, Amelie Porter. A Courage of Conscience Bus will take them and 70 peace activists to a briefing at the United Nations on March 17th. The art exhibition rejoins them in Congress in a special reception and presentation. They will be raising funds to build Abir's Garden: a Safe Place to Grow,a playground project in memory of Bassam's daughter Abir, to be built by the Combatants for Peace at the Si'ir School for Girls in the West Bank, where Abir's cousins go to school.


"Today, I draw the line not between Israelis and Palestinians," said Mr. Reshef, whose home in Israel is just 19 km from Gaza in an agricultural community that suffers frequent missile attacks. "But between people who choose peace - vs. those who pursue war and brutality." Mr. Reshef recently helped organize Combatants for Peace meetings in the neighboring Israeli city of Sderot so that townspeople could hear his Palestinian and Israeli partners first hand. 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.


September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, founded by family members of those killed on September 11th who have united to turn their grief into action for peace, The Peace Abbey, a thriving multi-faith retreat center that formed in response to a visit by Mother Teresa, and The Rebuilding Alliance, a nonprofit that rebuilds war-torn communities and makes them safe.