The village of Silwan, where Muhammad Awedah, a social worker, was born, is not only the largest part of East Jerusalem, but the most sought-after for Jewish settlement because of its proximity to the City of David. Muhammad remembers from his childhood how Palestinian families were expelled from their homes to settle Jews in them.
When the First Intifada broke out and he was only 16, most of the young men in the village were incarcerated for throwing stones and waving Palestinian flags. Muhammad's four brothers were among them. Every Friday he would wait for the Red Cross to ask for assistance in visiting his brothers for a monthly visit. A feeling of humiliation and frustration was seethed in him on those days.
The days that followed the signing of the Oslo Agreements were filled with hope for Muhammad and his family. They felt like the nightmare was over, they would have a state and the children would no longer go to jail. Yet with the outbreak of the Second Intifada, that hope waned. The violence escalated and the Occupation became crueler. Muhammad lost many of his friends, and more and more houses were destroyed in Silwan.
Following the changed reality, Muhammad sought a path of resistance. He and his friends chose non-violent resistance, the kind that entailed neither the spilling of blood and nor the loss of friends' lives. Most of the resistance was aimed against the home demolitions and the settlement of Jews in their village.
Throughout the struggle, Muhammad looked for what he calls "the sane voice" on the other side. He began looking for the right partner for the way of life he had chosen. His search led him to Combatants for Peace, an organization that was then only in its first year.
There was an immediate connection between Muhammad and the other participants, which produced a non-violent struggle against the Occupation in Silwan, Jerusalem's other neighbourhoods, and in the lands of the West Bank. Mohamad has now been with CfP for 8 years, the last few of which he has spent as the movement's Palestinian coordinator.
The movement's success – however limited – proved to others that things can also be achieved with non-violence, a path which symbolizes the path of freedom and peace -- the path of Combatants for Peace.