Ali Abu Awwad is a resident of Beit Ummar,
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.
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.
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”.