Israel, Palestine can learn to co-exist as separate states if they truly want peace

By Kathy Kahn

Palestinian Mazen Faraj and Israeli Rebi Damelin, spokespersons for the Parents Circle (Photo: Kathy Kahn)

Palestinian Mazen Faraj lost his father to an Israeli soldier. South African-born Jew Rebi Damelir, now living in Israel, lost a son to a Palestinian sniper. The two share the loss of a family member and are part of a growing movement of Arabs and Jews seeking to live in peace.

The movement they belong to, The Parents Circle, met with more than 40 people of all races, colors and creeds at Stony Point Center on February 22 to share the message of reconciliation and the hope that Palestine will be granted statehood.

For Faraj, he could not imagine he would one day be carrying a message of reconciliation after losing his father to Israeli gunfire. He attended a Parents Circle meeting to learn how to deal with his hatred. “You can sit and feel like a ‘victim’ and never feel like a whole person, or you can do something to contribute besides feel hatred.”

Damelir said her experience with South Africa’s apartheid struggle for freedom formed her identity at an early age. She brought that strength with her when she moved to Israel, where her son, a student in Tel Aviv, was killed by a Palestinian sniper’s bullet.

Today, this odd couple is very comfortable in their skin, their faiths and in their mission to spread the word of reconciliation and peace to all faiths, hoping some common ground—and common sense—will end the senseless killing and fighting over land. “All of us cry, and those tears have no color,” said Damelir. “Reconciliation must be part of the process in discussing the Israeli-Palestine conflict. We must learn to forgive and move forward.”

Both commented on the level of violence in Israel’s schools and in the streets, saying the politics of the region keep the fires burning. To learn more, visit www.theparentscircle.org.