Avner Wishnitzer was born on Kibbutz Schiller near Rehovot. Where he grew up, serving as a combatant was considered not only a patriotic duty but also a personal test; and as his conscription date approached, Avner chose to serve in the IDF’s special forces. After passing the tests and finishing his training, Avner served as a combatant and completed his compulsory service in 1998. Throughout both his childhood and his military service he had no contact with Palestinians, and was not exposed in any way to the realities of military rule in the West Bank.
Although Avner always opposed the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, it was almost a theoretical opposition. The whole affair seemed distant and only loosely connected to his life. It was the second Intifada that started changing the way he perceived things: He felt that the common impression it left in Israeli society was too simplistic, and that the story could not be so one-dimensional. Avner wanted to see the reality in his own eyes, without mediation. For the first time in his life, he joined political activities in the West Bank, there he encountered the reality of military rule — not as a passenger looking out of the vehicle window, or as broken images on the news; but this time, as a faces and names, as a complete existence.
Avner admits that up until this point, it was convenient for him to narrow down the Occupation to a cluster of small wrongdoings — such as uprooting olive trees, or illegal placement of impermanent housing on private Palestinian land. It was convenient to think of it as something done only by a few of the settlers. However, at this point, he started perceiving the Israeli occupation of the West Bank as an extensive system of oppression, dispossession and systematic settlement which cannot be justified in security terms. It was only then that he started to understand that this system is not a settler-, but a state enterprise and therefore this oppression was his too, and he could not shake off his responsibility. Gradually, Avner came to the realization that he could not be part of this oppression, and that was the background for his refusal to serve in the West Bank alongside 12 other combatants from his unit.
At the same time, it was clear to him that his opposition to the Occupation was not enough, and that he must act in order to near its end. Together with a couple of friends, he took part in the series of meetings that were held in Bethlehem in 2005, and those meetings eventually led to the foundation of CfP.
Ever since then, we have acted — Israelis and Palestinians together — to end the oppression, and the violence and dehumanization of the Other, in the belief that this is the only way a better future is possible for both sides.