Kholod Abu-Raeya is well aware of that fact that she’s an unusual phenomenon. A Palestinian woman in an organization such as Combatants for Peace is uncommon; but 30 year-old Kholod found the movement through another woman: her mother, a seasoned peace activist who brought her to an initial meeting with a group of Israeli women peace activists.
Kholod, an editor for BBC’s Media Action in Ramallah, admits that it was difficult for her. She felt hate more than any desire for peace. She went to the second meeting out of curiosity and a feeling that she needed to understand more, and then more again. The experience continued, until she stopped for a time.
Choked up with tears of excitement and unsolved emotions, Kholod describes hearing of Combatants for Peace a year ago. Curious to see what had changed in the activities of peace organizations, when a friend invited her along, she went. There, Kholod confesses, enters the greatest confusion she has yet to resolve. Maybe it’s the belief that despite everything promoting peace is still possible; maybe it’s the brave friendship she has found with the Israeli women in the group. “This is where I felt our work is more realistic,” she says. “This is the forum in which I can talk about my vision.”
Not everyone is thrilled by this young woman’s exceptional activity. Her parents support her; but her siblings are filled with misgivings. When she invited them to the movement’s film screening in Ramallah, they accused her of “normalizing”. “It is possible that had I had a shaahid brother they would have found it easier to accept my activity,” Kholod soberly analyzes the Palestinian socio-political experience.
To her mind, however, her vision seems to fit the agenda of Combatants for Peace; and it’s a simple vision: The borders of 1967, without settlements and without Occupation, the ability to move between Hebron and Ramallah without checkpoints and without worrying her parents. “Combatants for Peace are partners of my vision,” Kholod is certain. “Without that I wouldn’t be here.”