Posted by on February 06, 2013 in Blog
By Jade Zoghbi
Spring Intern 2013
On February 6, 2013 a policy briefing in Washington D.C. was held inviting guests from the The Parents Circle-Families Forum, Alliance for the Middle East Peace, and The Telos Group to take part in an important conversation. Mr. Bassam Aramin and Ms. Robi Damelin shared their personal stories and relationship to the Israeli-Palestine reconciliation process. To them, the conflict and war is personal and has deeply affected their lives.
“It is essential to become aware of the human factor…without reconciliation, there remains only the political”, says Ms. Robi Damelin, a strong woman who delivered her story with poise and dignity.
Originally from South Africa, she is the Israeli member and spokesperson of the Parents Circle. Foremost, she is the mother of David whom she lost in 2002 when his life was taken by a Palestinian sniper. Her experience in South Africa helped her look at the Israel-Palestine conflict and recognize how important the reconciliation process is, globally. She was also very active in anti-apartheid activities during her time in South Africa. The pain of her son’s loss has since been channeled towards preventing another family from experiencing similar pain, and to work towards reconciliation through her membership at Parents Circle.
What does reconciliation mean to you? The reconciliation process is integral to any Israeli-Palestinian solution. Pain is a universal emotion and its impact is not dictated by a national citizenship, but by being of the human race.
Signing the necessary papers for a settlement between Israeli and Palestinians, but not followed by a process of reconciliation, deems this endeavor ineffective, incomplete. The political solution is core to the process, but it must consider the steps involved in the reconciliation that follows it. They should be moving together. A solution will ensure respecting human rights, two official lands for two peoples, and a peace treaty. By seeking to advance an issue central to the policy community, to regard engagement with the other as a diplomatic relationship is key.
Forgiving another stranger, individual, for the pain they have caused them, whether by taking their land or their child, is just giving up on the right to revenge, according to Ms. Damelin.She observes that there is a growing movement of Palestinians and Israelis working together to combat violence and participate in all sectors of society to shape the framework for sustainable peace.
Her friend, Mr. Bassam Aramin, who made an important contribution at the briefing, is a Palestinian member of the Parents circle. He lived the Palestinian struggle while growing up in the city of Hebron where he became involved in the struggle since a young age on. He is the father of Abir, the ten-year old girl whose life was taken by Israeli Defense Force soldiers. In 2005, he co-founded Combatants for Peace, an organization of former Israeli and Palestinian combatants leading a non-violent struggle against the occupation. He expresses his strong belief breaking the cycle of violence and revenge, and responding to grief and loss by connecting with others.
The two came together through the Parents Circle, an organization which fosters relationships between Israelis and Palestinians who lost members of their family due to the conflict.
The two represent the only members of the organization who have successfully been an active component of the reconciliation process. Together, they are part of the solution for a pragmatic manner to combat violence and choose peace.
The experience of meeting others has helped many to find closure. Yet, while the human factor is now considered, the political practices, and barriers to peace remain in dire need decision-making and advancement.
Ms. Damelin further remarks that the revolution of the Documentary, as a learning tool for the public, is more and more serving in place of the media. Hence, she planned a trip to South Africa to learn more about its Truth and Reconciliation Commission and to draw lessons from its history which appeared parallel to the Israeli-Palestine occupation. She is the main character of “One Day After Peace” (watch the trailer) in which she shares her thought-provoking journey between her past in South Africa and present in the Israeli-Palestine conflict. Her goal is to inspire others to find peace within, to save the lives of children, sons and daughters, and to witness the healing of old wounds in her home country.
Finally, the lessons were clear and sound: Consider the humanity in the other. Stop taking sides. Create a political solution. The dream to end the occupation and grant all their human rights lasts.
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