Robi Damelin’s son, David, was killed by a Palestinian terror attack in 2002. Sometime later, she joined one of the more remarkable efforts at reconciliation to emanate from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Parent’s Circle. It is a group of Israeli and Palestinian family survivors of terror. I think it is one of the bravest things that a human being can do–to find the guts to confront the violence that caused immense suffering–and to say ‘No’ to it. Damelin announces in Haaretz that her group plans to expand to include Lebanese victims of Israeli violence. Her statement is an impassioned plea to the Middle East’s mother-survivors of such violence to come together and reject the gun and the grave in favor of talking at the negotiating table:
Mothers of Israel, Lebanon and Palestine: How many more graves until we shout stop? How much collective mourning until we shout stop? Let us look into each other’s eyes and recognize each other’s pain with empathy; let us see the human being behind the green and the blue. Let us force all to come to the table and not to a grave to talk. How many more of our children need to die before we realize there is no revenge for a lost child? We cannot let them take our children away without a word. Where is our voice in all this madness?
Mothers of Israel, Lebanon and Palestine, we must join together in a sense of understanding, and scream stop the killing, stop the killing. For so many years we have repeated the tournament of violence, it is time to look for another way, not the narrative of winning but rather a way of dialogue toward reconciliation, a way to see the human being behind the stigma – in other words, a way to recognize our joint pain.
To those in Lebanon who have lost loved ones in the conflict, we invite you to be in touch with our Palestinian and Israeli members at the Parents Circle Families Forum. We invite you to work with us in a dialogue with a long-term goal of reconciliation. We who have paid the highest price understand the consequences of a never-ending rhetoric of winning. We invite you to look at a future of some hope for the children of our area. A future free of violence, a future free of fear.
To her I say: Kol hakavod lach (“more power to you”).