Ali Abu Awwad is a resident of Beit Ummar, Hebron, where his family relocated in 1948. Ali grew up in a politically active family and was active in resisting the Israeli occupation during the first intifada (Palestinian uprising). He was arrested for his political activities and served four years of the 10 he was sentenced until his release following the Oslo accords. During the second intifada, Ali was shot by an Israeli settler and was hospitalized in Saudi Arabia. While there, he received the grave news that his brother had been shot and killed by an Israeli soldier at a checkpoint at the entrance to their village. Ali and other members of his family later joined the Bereaved Families Forum where they are active in spreading a message of reconciliation and non-violence to Palestinians and Israelis.

 

Ali describes joining the Parents Circle: “After my brother’s death, and contrary to pressures from various groups and individuals who came to express their condolences, I decided that revenging my brother’s death would not ease my pain and would not bring him back. I didn’t know what to do with the pain and there wasn’t an outlet for the grief. The Forum is a means of helping yourself in addition to being a means of resistance…I thought that the greatest tribute I could pay to my dead brother, our family and to my people would be to work to stop the cycle of violence and bloodshed…My duty as a Palestinian is to show the Israeli people that we have a just case and this can only take place when we stop the cycle of violence. I now believe this is the way to establish our rights”.

 

 

Robi Damelin lives in Tel Aviv. She immigrated from South Africa in 1967. Robi’s son, David, was killed by a sniper while on military reserve duty, in March 2002. David was 28 years old, and was studying for his Masters Degree in the Philosophy of Education at the Tel-Aviv University. He strongly believed that through education, he could make a difference in Israel

 

After David’s death , Robi felt a burning need to do something to try and prevent other parents from experiencing the dreadful pain of losing a child.  She closed her succesful Public Relations firm to devote her entire time and energy to the Parents Circle – Families Forum and its activities promoting dialogue, tolerance and reconciliation.

 

In Robi’s words: “since losing my son I have decided to devote my life to the work of The Parents Circle.  If the members of our group can reconcile and forgive, then surely we can be an example to the rest of the world… We are not affiliated to any political party, we who have paid the highest price for a war which should have ended long ago.  We wish to strengthen the voice of parents.  We believe that motherhood and fatherhood and the wish to save children who are still alive, are the only common denominators that overcome nationality, race and religion”.