Where Division Exists, Peacebuilding Persists

GRLبنت had the pleasure of learning about Fighters For Peace محاربون من أجل السلام (FFP), a non-profit organization consisting of ex-fighters from the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990) that builds peaceful and social bridges amongst Lebanese communities. During the war, these ex-fighters fought on opposing sides based on religious and political affiliations, however, a group of ex-fighters came together to reconcile their differences and ask for forgiveness for their past actions. In 2013, ex-fighters recognized sectarian divides developing amongst youth when violent clashes broke out in Tripoli. These ex-fighters saw history repeating itself and decided to form FFP to educate and promote social cohesion amongst youth and adults, including Palestinians and Syrians living in Lebanon.

Gaby Jammal is an ex-fighter and volunteer at FFP that has worked as a Project Manager specifically focusing on building bridges between Sunni and Shia groups in the Heart of Beirut and in three Palestinian camps. Gaby shared with GRLبنت that he began fighting in the Civil War when he was only 13 years old as a Christian Palestinian against the right-wing Lebanese Christian militias. His group was based on political ideology rather than religious sect. His experiences during the war shaped his professional career in production, foreign media, education, and journalism.

Gaby explained that FFP develops educational resources and dialogue between opposing groups within Lebanon in order to avoid future conflicts. The organization now consists of 50 ex-fighters, twelve of whom are women. “Generally, women are not thought of as ‘fighters’ by society, but women also fought critically in the Lebanese Civil War.


Therefore, we cannot forget their experiences & voices,” says Gaby. Gaby explained that female ex-fighters are influential in convincing girls & women not to participate in war and in dissuading their sons & brothers from joining.

FFP has worked on projects that organize Syrian women as peacebuilders that lived in both the Syrian opposition and regime-controlled areas, partnered in understanding Iraqi youth’s reasons for joining ISIS, and enhancing social cohesion of Syrian refugees in Germany. They also conduct the Green Line Tour, which is the road dividing Beirut’s Eastside (majority Christian) and Westside (majority Muslim). Prior to the Civil War, Martyrs Square was a social meeting location where people gathered from both sides, but after the Civil War, has remained an empty yard. During the Green Line Tour, Gaby shares the personal stories of ex-fighters and the historical sites located on the Green Line to tourists.

FFP holds the Playback Theatre where audiences share their personal stories related to the wars and their stories are “played back” on the spot by professional actors on stage. Gaby explained that such dialogue methods allow people to share their war traumas and create an oral history for Lebanese youth to learn about the Civil War. This is important since Lebanese school textbooks do not mention the Civil War. This is due to politicians, many of whom were fighters, not wanting to discuss their war crimes and factions still blaming the other side for the war. However, FFP believes that education about the Civil War is necessary so that youth do not repeat the same mistakes of the previous generation.

FFP’s projects have reached 27,000 students in secondary education and universities. Their work in education is crucial since Lebanese political parties begin influencing students at a young age. However, FFP remains neutral by not being politically affiliated with any party due to conflict of interest. Gaby shared that since sect division often benefits politicians and unity doesn’t serve their political agenda, FFP tries to reach individuals who are members of political parties rather than politicians themselves.

Many of the Lebanese political parties consist of ex-fighters from the Civil War that are waiting for the next war to happen. Gaby explained that there are an estimated 250,000 ex-fighters from the Civil War and many of them have not criticized their participation or made efforts in reconciling with their enemies. Some of these ex-fighters view FFP members as traitors since they have developed peaceful bonds with their opposing side. Gaby himself has friends that view him as a traitor due to his work with the organization.

Political parties are continuously trying to divide the Lebanese people, especially after the October Revolution in 2019, where people from all political parties and religious sects united in protesting against their government. Gaby believes that Lebanese citizens have finally realized that politicians are responsible for dividing people against each other. He hopes for less sectarianism to exist in Lebanon and for a peaceful future for the generations to come.