As the Palestinian-Israeli conflict flares up again it’s great to remember that there are many who seek peace.
The Parents Circle Family Forum comprises 600 bereaved families from both backgrounds who come together in grief and work towards reconciliation.
Robi Damelin expressed their sentiment clearly after she lost her son:
“It was only later, after the intense shock had subsided and a heavy pain was starting to bed in, that Robi Damelin was told what her first words were on hearing that her son had been killed: “You may not kill anybody in the name of my child.” She says now: “I suppose that was some kind of prediction of what I would do in the future. But I don’t know what revenge means. How many people should I kill? Would that bring David back? I was very motivated to find something that would prevent other families experiencing this pain.”
These families try to break the cycle of violence starting with themselves. They hold meetings and develop deep connections with each other. They travel and talk to politicians and children in schools, trying to pursued them of the futility of violence and a shared interest in ending it.
Mazen Faraj, a Palestinian whose father was killed by an Israeli sniper and who was jailed as a teenager, has this to say:
“Since I was a kid, I have been dealing with the conflict,” he says. “It is so hard to live in a country without security, justice, rights. After the loss of my father, I spent a lot of time not knowing what to do. It was a huge feeling. There are options – you can choose revenge and become a suicide bomber, or you can stay at home and die slowly with your memories, or maybe you can really do something useful. To become an extremist is the easy way, but to reach a solution in this conflict through dialogue, and to find understanding, would be more helpful for me.”
My hope is that such developments will become stronger and peace will eventually win out. It might be decades still before there’s peace for Israelis and Palestinians. In the meantime there’s hope as many continue to work on building more peaceful ways of co-existing.