You are on page 1of 9

Documentation of

Combatants for Peace
UK Tour
22-30 July 2010

Hosted by
Encounters

Encounters offer imaginative spaces and processes for people to
explore their relationship with themselves, each other, where
they live and the wider natural world.
www.encounters-arts.org
Combatants for Peace UK Tour
July 2010
In his dual role as a creative Director of Encounters and UK representative of
Combatants for Peace (CfP), Ben Yeger worked with partners in Israel, Palestine and
the UK to bring 16 members of the Tul-Karem / Tel- Aviv group, one of the five bi-
national local activist groups operating in Israel/Palestine, to the UK in July 2010. This
unique group uses theatre as a tool for dialogue, action and transformation and
Encounters hosted a 10-day tour of public events for this group to share their personal
stories and non-violent, creative methods for resolving conflict.

For an organisation whose bi-national
members routinely risk arrest and resentment
from within their own communities simply for
meeting together, this extraordinary UK visit
offered a safe space for CfP members to
deepen relationships and resolve conflict
within their group. The movement started in
2005 by Palestinians who had been part of the
violent struggle against the occupation, and
Israelis who had fought in the Israeli army.
Having put down their arms, Combatants for
Peace members are engaged in a non-violent struggle against the Israeli occupation
and for a viable peace in the area. They are committed to using dialogue and
reconciliation as a way to promote the establishment of a Palestinian state with its
capital in East Jerusalem, alongside the State of Israel.

Tour Schedule
Day 1-4 : Warrington
The tour started at the Warrington Peace Centre
(www.foundation4peace.org) and the group spent the
first two days in an internal creative conflict resolution
process joined on day three by members of ‘Survivors
for Peace’ who are people who have been directly
affected by violent conflict. That evening there was a
presentation by Jo Berry, whose father was killed by
the IRA in the bombing of the 1984 Tory Party
conference in Brighton, and Pat Magee one of the
bombers, who told their own extra ordinary story of
reconciliation (see - www.buildingbridgesforpeace.org
for their story).
On the final day in Warrington, Chen Alon (CfP co founder), Ben Yeger
(Encounters/CfP) and other members of CfP led ‘Rainbow of Identities’ an experiential
workshop for the public, members of Survivors for Peace members and the CfP group.
The workshop explored the complexities of conflict, using Augusto Boal theatre of the
oppressed techniques.

That evening sixty members of the public attended the first ‘No Victory in Violence’ of
the tour, an evening where CfP members shared their journeys from division and
violence, towards non-violence and peace. This event was conducted using Boal’s
Forum Theatre and the telling of personal stories.
“Combatants for Peace must really understand about peacemaking - we have a lot
to learn from them, they have a lot to share”
Warrington participant- Member of Survivors for Peace

Day 5 : Peak District

The group took time to reflect
in nature and absorb the
intense first stage of the tour
through a walking trip in the
Peak District in Yorkshire.

This allowed for much
needed time to rest and
regroup following the intense
public engagement that had
gone before at Warrington.
Encounters increasingly work to develop people’s relationship with the natural world as
a way of bringing perspective, peace and new insights to personal and relationship
conflict. Much of the Israeli/Palestinan conflict is rooted in conflict over land and being
nourished by the wild, vast and publicly accessible landscape of the Peak District
alongside each other was an important part of the group process.

Day 6-7 : Coventry

The group travelled to Coventry where they were hosted by the Centre for Peace and
Reconciliation at Coventry University.
Coventry is the UK city of Peace and
Reconciliation and the group toured
the city visiting the famous Coventry
Cathedral and visiting the Herbert Art
Gallery and Museum with its wing
dedicated to Peace and
Reconciliation, learning about other
Peace processes. The ‘Rainbow of
Identities’ workshop was facilitated
again this time with students from all
over the world who were attending the
Coventry University international
summer school for peace and
reconciliation.

The ‘No Victory in Violence’ evening was presented in Coventry, attended by sixty
people.

“It’s interesting to use the medium of Theatre…and very encouraging to see
Jewish people and Palestinians working together in this way. And if only this
could grow and develop more then perhaps there is a hope that more people can
see some hope for the future”
Coventry audience member
Day 8–10 : London

Four members of the CfP group shared
their personal journeys from division and
violence towards non-violence and peace in
an evening at the Frontline Club
(www.frontlineclub.com) in London. The
event was chaired by Ian Black, the
Guardian’s former Middle East editor and
was attended by 120 members of the public
that were moved and inspired to hear of
grass roots non – violent work.

Day nine was the last public day of the tour. It started with Adrian Jackson, a leading
expert on the Theatre of the Oppressed, and Artistic Director of Cardboard Citizens
Theatre Company leading - ‘Rainbow of Occupation’ an experiential Theatre of the
Oppressed workshop that Adrian devised specifically for the CfP visit. The workshop
was attended by the CfP group and forty members of the general public.
“What I like is the optimism, the proof
that Theatre can change things. It’s very
strong for me to point to groups (like
CfP) working in the real world - and
every time I’m blown away, I’m moved”
Adrian Jackson

The final evening in the UK culminated in another ‘No Victory in Violence’ evening at
Amnesty International’s human rights action centre. Amnesty were partners in the tour
and the evening was chaired by Kristyan Benedict, Campaign Manager for, Amnesty
International UK. The event included a presentation of Forum Theatre and powerful
personal stories from two of the co – founders of combatants for peace, Nour Aldin
Shehada and Chen Alon. The event was attended by two hundred and fifty people and
the final day’s workshop and evening raised £1400 for CfP.

“Amnesty International were delighted to work with Combatants for Peace in 2010
and to support them in our shared aim of seeing Israelis and Palestinians living
peacefully together with their human rights and dignity respected and protected.
They are remarkable, tenacious and inspiring individuals and as a collective an
example of what being the change you want to see in the world looks like. The use
of Forum Theatre was innovative and effective. It allowed a creative gateway to
channel highly complex issues present in the conflict in an engaging way…The
performances and the interactions they created were played out with an
underlying spirit that the current conflict is not inevitable and indeed should not
be inevitable.” Kristyan Benedict – Campaigns Manager, Amnesty International UK
Conclusions / Reflections

The visit of 16 members of Combatants for
Peace in July was very full, intense,
challenging and without a doubt a huge
success. The tour had high impact and was
deeply transformative for all who took part;
members of combatants for peace, workshop
participants, audiences, partner organisations,
funders. Through initial evaluation with Israeli,
Palestinian and other UK based participants
the impact has clearly been multi faceted,
touching people on emotional, intellectual and
political levels. The full impact on the 16
members of CfP is in the process of being
fully evaluated and a report will be produced.
However it is clear that this unique project met
many of its original aims; to strengthen
relationships between the Israelis and Palestinians, to have time to plan for the future
work, to share the difficult realities of building bridges for peace between the two
peoples, to share the vitally important work that CfP do in Israel and Palestine with wide
and diverse audiences.

Throughout the tour creative methods were used to explore conflict and tell the stories of
transformation from violence to non-violence. The overwhelming response from all who
came in contact with the tour was that this approach was potent and powerful, creating a
gateway for understanding these issues in a new way.
Outcomes from the tour

 Number of new people we have engaged with through the public events and
Theatre workshops - approx 500
 Press coverage; local radio coverage at each location, BBC world service, TV -
BBC world, Arabic world service, Newspapers - Observer on Sunday, Palestine
Solidarity campaign magazine, Church Times, Jewish Chronicle, Amnesty
International magazine
 Relationships strengthened ; Amnesty International UK (AIUK) - have committed
to partnering and co funding another UK CfP visit in 2011 and supporting the
development of Cfp work in Palestine/Israel, Tom Clark - one of the main funders
of the tour is committed to deepening his relationship with CfP and Encounters,
Adrian Jackson (Cardboard Citizens) will continue to offer Specialist Theatre of
the Oppressed work within future CFP tours, The owner of the Frontline Club has
invited CfP back for future events
 A film and exhibit commissioned by the Herbert Gallery in Coventry as part of the
2010 Peace Festival
 Following attendance at the Amnesty No Victory for Violence event, a young
Jewish Woman who will be cycling across the world on a peace pilgrimage to
arrive in Palestine/Israel, has decided to dedicate funds raised to CfP.

The Future

 We are in the process of planning another CfP visit to the UK in 2011 that will
include the six CfP regional co-coordinators. This will be residential in Encounters
new home on the Dartington Estate. It will include a series of public events in the
South West then a two day workshop in London with Adrian Jackson, artistic
Director of Cardboard Citizens and another series of Public events at the Front
Line Club and Amnesty International.
 Ben Yeger and Basam Aramin (Palestinian founder member of CfP now studying
at Bradford University on the Peace Studies course) will be joining Political
Comedian Mark Thomas on his comedy tour of the UK where he tells his story of
walking along the Israeli built dividing wall and his encounters with people along
the way including CfP.
 Ben Yeger and Bassam Aramin will also do a small tour around a variety of
venues in the South West in collaboration with the Forgiveness project
(http://theforgivenessproject.com/). This tour will include personal stories and a
short creative workshop.