Juan Cole reprints a statement from a dialogue group made up of Palestinian and Israeli ex-fighters: Combatants for Peace.
Through our dialogue group, where Israeli and Palestinian former combatants meet regularly, we try to touch the hearts and minds of both societies. We try to help our communities become more aware of the reality of the other side, so that nobody can say "I didn’t know." We want Israelis to comprehend the full scale of the oppression inherent to the Israeli occupation, and we want the Palestinians to know that behind the occupation there are humans, who are also suffering. We want both sides to understand the price of violence. Our message is simple: Peace is possible. The only way to reach peace is through dialogue and negotiations, and the only solution is a two state solution -- an end the occupation, in keeping with UN resolutions.
People frequently respond to us as if we were detached from reality, yet nothing could be farther from the truth. Our Palestinian members were all active in violent opposition to the occupation, serving long prison terms for their activities; the Israelis among us all served many years as combat soldiers on the conflict's front lines. We know the lay of the land, and we know the reality. We know the price we’ll have to pay for peace, and we’ve learned with our very flesh that the price of war is a hundred times greater. We live among our peoples and we see and suffer the consequences of this conflict.
People often say "but you're just a few good people. The majority feels differently." But this is not the case. First of all, we’re not good people. Indeed, until not long ago, we were very bad. As soldiers we killed and maimed, we bombed and tortured. Our Palestinian counterparts stabbed, and shot and planted bombs, killing and maiming as they went.
But we’ve changed. We understood that power has limits and that violence can only lead to more violence; that non-violence is better, as both a tactic and as way of life. Like us there are many more "bad" people who might change, who will change, if they’re given just a bit of hope.
Read the whole thing. Especially read this:
...we don't contest the national values of our respective peoples; on the contrary, we struggle for them. We don't contest the right of Israel to exist in security and prosperity; nor do we contest the right of the Palestinians to resist the occupation and achieve their own state. We question only the methods that have been employed to achieve these goals in the past. These methods were not only ineffective, they were wrong.. Israel is not safe, Palestine is not free, and only the cemeteries are flourishing. Let us try another way.
The Dove loves it when hardened ex-military men express views so close to her own. I am not really a dove; my true nature is angry, viper-tongued and harsh. I've just seen enough of war to think it's a dumb way to gain peace.