Israeli and Palestinian Youth Gearing Up For Summer Program

“In the dialogue meetings there are moments that it feels like everyone is together: there is no Israeli or Palestinian side. Everyone is listening together to the same pain and to both sides.”
-Inbal Harel, 14 year old Israeli participant, 2016 PCFF Youth Summer Program

The Parents Circle is gearing up for its 2017 Youth Summer Program which will bring together 40 Israeli and Palestinian bereaved and non-bereaved youth (ages 14-18) together for a rare opportunity to share their stories, listen to the stories of their peers from the “other side”, see the human in the other and have fun together through nature, arts, games, trips and more.

Please consider making a donation today.  We have already raised 30% of our goal!. You can make your contribution here!

Today’s young people in Israel and Palestine have grown up in societies in which violence and bereavement are a part of daily life. These same young people are the future of Israel and Palestine. It is vital that they are given the opportunity to form and strengthen beliefs in non-violence and dialogue.

Help spread the word about our campaign through emails, social media, and word of mouth. We hope to reach new supporters and audiences through this campaign in addition to reaching our funding goal of $21,000. Share this page with your friends!

For every $1,500 we raise, we can support one pair of Israeli and Palestinian youth to participate in the Summer Program at no cost to them. Our goal is to raise $21,000 to be able to provide 14 teenagers–7 Israeli and 7 Palestinians, ages 14-18– the opportunity to participate in this transformational experience.

“I felt we were entirely connected…”
–Israeli participant, PCFF 2014 Youth Summer Program


The 12th Annual Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony

“You have to love this land and love people in order to see that between the sea and the Jordan there is space for two nations. The space is in the heart.”

On April 30th, Combatants for Peace– in partnership with the Combatants for PeaceParents Circle– held the 12th Annual Memorial Day Ceremony.

This incredible and unique event, which allows individuals from both sides of the conflict to come together in a common cry for peace and recognition of the pain of the other side, saw a number of successes. Despite violent protests from right-wing groups who threatened attendees as they entered the building, over 4,000 Israelis filled the arena in Tel Aviv. Despite the Israeli government’s refusal to allow 225 Palestinian attendees and speakers into the country to participate, over 600 Israelis and Palestinians attended a sister ceremony organized over the weekend in Beit Jala.

Watch the entire 2017 Ceremony here

“This cause is noble. It’s to stop the streams of blood on both sides and to search for a path to restore freedom, honor, hope and equality for both peoples.”
–Marianne Sa’adeh, bereaved sister and ceremony speaker

American Communities Mark Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day

On Sunday, our friends and partners across the US organized seven events across the country– in New York City, Washington, D.C., Boston, Fort Collins, Oakland, and Seattle– and they joined hundreds of individuals around the globe— in places like Zurich, Berlin, Rio de Janeiro, London, and elsewhere— in standing together with those who have paid the highest price in the conflict.



We quickly mobilize to stand together on Memorial Day

Dear Friends,Combatants for Peace logo

As you know, tonight is the Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony, during which Israelis and Palestinians stand together to remember the lost loved ones and speak in one voice to prevent further bereavement.

What you may not know is that the nearly 300 Palestinians who wished to participate in the Tel Aviv event have been denied entry by the Government of Israel to enter Israel. In response, the Parents Circle and Combatants for Peace have quickly organized a “sister” event in Beit Jala, the West Bank where many of the Palestinians will participate in the Ceremony from and watch the livestream of the event in Tel Aviv. Israelis have been invited in mass to join them in Beit Jala and many of our program alumni and friends will be headed to as I write to stand in solidarity and be together, permits or no permits.

Please join us in support of our Israeli and Palestinian members today, more than ever, who continue the struggle and in memory of all their lost loved ones.

If you cannot be at the U.S. based events today in NY, DC, Los Angeles, Boston, Fort Collins, or Oakland, please join us today on the livestream at 2:00 PM EST:


In solidarity,

Shiri Ourian
Executive Director
American Friends of the Parents Circle

This is how we build peace in Israel and Palestine

Since January, the Parents Circle-Families Forum has held nearly 15 “Women to Women” Dialogue Meetings. These important meetings are led by bereaved Israeli and Palestinian women who share their stories of loss and offer their extraordinary choice of reconciliation as a message of inspiration and hope. In a safe space, women, perhaps for the first time, have the chance to meet someone from the “other side” and engage in dialogue. We had been unable to conduct these vital meetings in Palestine since the escalation of violence in October, 2015.

"Women to Women" Dialogue meeting in Tel Aviv, January 8th
“Women to Women” Dialogue meeting in Tel Aviv, January 8th

“All mothers have the same pain when they lose one of their own, and it doesn’t matter where they are from”
Palestinian mother at January 5th meeting in Beit Jala

“It is important to continue to conduct such meetings in order for more people to learn about the situation on the other side”
Israeli participant at January 15th meeting in Rishon Letzion

Israelis and Palestinians Launch Joint Projects

Israeli and Palestinian alumni of our Parallel Narrative Experience (PNE) groups have successfully launched several joint projects to fill crucial peacebuilding needs in Israeli and Palestinian communities, including:

  • Peace Conference – In February, over 150 Israelis and Palestinians attended a conference planned and organized by PNE alumni. This event was conducted to strengthen the attendees’ abilities to act as peacebuilders in their own communities.
Parents Circle members Bassam Aramin and Rami Elhanan address Peace Conference attendees
Parents Circle members Bassam Aramin and Rami Elhanan address Peace Conference attendees
  • “The Generations Club” – A club in Idna for Palestinian children. Led by volunteering Palestinian youth, this joint project provides positive and safe activities for the children, as well as developing responsible leadership among the youth. The project also includes a series of meetings between the club’s children and youth and Israeli youth and their families in order for them to get to know the other side and educate them for non-violence.
Adults circle from the Families Gathering of the Generations Club
Adults circle from the Families Gathering of the Generations Club


Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony April 30

“The Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony comes to remind us that war is not an act of fate but one of human choice.”

Dear Friends,

On April 30, 2017 cities around the world will be joining the 2017 Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony produced and led by Combatants for Peace, in partnership with the Parents Circle – Families Forum. Satellite events are being held across the world, to watch the ceremony from Tel Aviv, and to stand in solidarity with those who have paid the highest price in the conflict.



Would you like to participate or host a ceremony in your city? Here are the events being planned:

New York City

Join us for a event at the 14th Street Y at 6:30 PM EST to watch a recording of the 2017 Ceremony, hear from speakers and engage in discussion.

East Bay Area, CA

Local partners in the Bay Area will host an event on April 30th in the Oakland/Berkeley area. Attendees will have the opportunity to watch a recording of the 2017 Ceremony, and time will be given for small-group discussions.

Fort Collins, CO

J Street Fort Collins is hosting Who Knew?, a shared memorial celebration with Americans, Israelis, and Palestinians. Attendees will be able to watch the livestream of the ceremony, as well as view the documentary Disturbing the Peace.

Events are also being planned in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, CA, Tufts University (Medford, MA) and Chapman University (Orange, CA), as well as London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Zurich, Rio de Janeiro, and Johannesburg.

Email us to learn more about any of the satellite Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony events, or how you can host an event in your community!



American Communities Mark Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day

“The Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony comes to remind us that war is not inevitable”

Dear friends,
On April 30, 2017, thousands of Israelis and Palestinians will come together to remember the shared pain experienced on both sides of the conflict. The Israeli-Palestinian Alternative Memorial Day Ceremony, which has been held following Israeli Memorial Day for the past twelve years, comes to remind us that war is not an act of fate but one of human choice.

This powerful ceremony will be streamed online live from Tel Aviv, and we are inviting you to participate:

Invite your community and constituents to a selected venue on Sunday, April 30 to watch the livestreaming of the Israeli-Palestinian Alternative Memorial Day Ceremony. English subtitles will be available.

Learn more about the ceremony and how you can share it in your community here.

Parents Circle Visits The US

Last month, two Parents Circle’s members– bereaved mother, Robi Damelin, and bereaved son, Mazen Faraj– visited the US to share their stories of loss and reconciliation. Here are some of the highlights from their speaking tour:

A Conversation With Peacemakers and Silent Walk

In North Carolina, Robi Damelin and Mazen Faraj spoke together at events at UNC Chapel Hill and Duke University, sharing their individual stories of loss and their shared vision of a way toward peace.

Following the events on both campuses, Robi, Mazen, and students held silent walks for peace. Students and speakers alike, wearing patches from our Taking Steps project, marched in silence to show solidarity with bereaved Israelis and Palestinians.

Silent Walk for peace at Duke University, February 21, 2017

J Street 2017 National Conference

We were honored to attend and speak at this year’s J Street National Conference. This incredible conference brings together speakers and social justice activists from around the world to discuss the way toward a two-state solution.

Robi, Mazen, and Elik Elhanan speaking in a J Street session moderated by Craig Zelizer.
Robi, Mazen, and Elik Elhanan speaking in a J Street session moderated by Craig Zelizer.

Robi and Mazen were joined by bereaved brother, Elik Elhanan, for their speaking session on Sunday, February 26, where they discussed their uncommon path of forgiveness in the face of loss, and how their work humanizes the conflict.

Watch a recording of their session here.

In peace,

American Friends of the Parents Circle


Meet Rami and Mazen

My name is Rami Elhanan. I am a graphic designer and a 7th generation Jerusalemite. I am a Jew; I am an Israeli, and before everything else, I am a human being.

Rami Elhanan and George and Najwa Sa'adeh
Rami Elhanan, PCFF Israeli General Director, speaking in Madison, WI, October 2016

On the first day of the school year in 1997, a few days before Yom Kippur, my daughter, Smadar, and her friends went to Ben Yehuda St. in Jerusalem to buy books. There, they met their death. They were killed by two Palestinian suicide bombers who murdered 5 people that day, among them three little girls aged 14.

When someone murders your 14 year-old little daughter, the one and only thing you have in your head is unlimited anger and an urge for revenge that is stronger than death.

During my first experience with the Parents Circle, I saw something that was completely new to me. I saw bereaved Palestinian families: men, women and children, coming towards me, greeting me for peace, hugging me and crying with me.

From that day on I have dedicated my life to one thing only: to go from person to person and loudly tell all that this is not our destiny! Nowhere is it written that we must continue dying and sacrificing our children forever in this difficult holy land.

Read Rami’s Full Story

My name is Mazen Faraj. I grew up in the Dheisheh Refugee Camp in the West Bank. I was 16 during the First Intifada when I, like my five brothers, was put into an Israeli jail for the first time.

Mazen Faraj and Rami Elhanan
Mazen Faraj and Rami Elhanan, PCFF’s Palestinian and Israeli co-Directors

In 2000, it was the Second Intifada. The situation became worse with more bloodshed. In April 2002, my father was killed by the Israeli army when he was working in Jerusalem and crossing back to the West Bank. Israeli soldiers shot him for no reason. He did not have any gun. He did not have any stone. He did not have any fault. So the hospital called us at home and said there was someone, a 62 year-old man with more than 60 holes in his body. They found on his ID that his name was Ali Faraj. My father. He didn’t have a gun. Didn’t have a suicide bomb. Just a human in the street.

I joined the Parents Circle in 2005. I wanted the two sides– the Israelis and Palestinians– to understand each other, not necessarily to agree with each other. We don’t have to be friends.

My father is with me all the time. Something I can’t forget: myself and my heart. He is a big part of my soul.

Read Mazen’s Full Story


An important meeting with Pres. Abbas

Peace Activists Meet With PA Head

On January 5, 2017, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas held an important meeting with hundreds of Israeli and Palestinian peace activists, writers, and academics.

Members of the Parents Circle were among those present at this crucial meeting. Bereaved Israeli mother, Robi Damelin, presented Abbas with a “Bird of Reconciliation” watch from our Taking Steps initiative, as a token of our gratitude for the PA President’s continued peace and reconciliation efforts.

Robi Damelin and President Abbas
Parents Circle spokesperson, Robi Damelin, presents “Bird of Reconciliation” watch to Abbas

Among the topics discussed was the recent UN resolution 2334, calling for the cessation of illegal settlements, reinforcing the need for a two-state solution, and condemning violence on both sides.

Pres. Abbas stood firmly with the Parents Circle’s motto: it won’t end until we talk. “The truth is we didn’t need UN resolution 2334,” Abbas said. “It is enough for us to talk in order to get to peace.”

2016 End-of-Year Successes

Our campaign to support the Young Ambassadors for Peace (YAP) program was a huge success! Together, we raised more than $40,000 for this vital initiative.

Yigal Elhanan and Arab Aramin
Yigal Elhanan and Arab Aramin, young peace leaders

The funds we raised will help us provide leadership training and capacity building to 25 bereaved Israelis and Palestinians, ages 18-27, helping them become the next generation of peace leaders.

Thank you to everyone who supported the campaign. Your generous contributions are sincerely appreciated.

In peace,

American Friends of the Parents Circle


6 Highlights from 2016

As we approach the beginning of a new year, we want to share some of the highlights from 2016 with you, a partner in our work:

1. Launched Taking Steps – Bereaved parents Robi Damelin and Bassam Aramin visited U.S. Congress to Taking Steps launch in US Congressofficially launch our new social business, Taking Steps in the Path for Peace, on International Peace Day. This event was hosted by Rep. Diane DeGette, with support from more than 20 other congressmen and women

2. Held Silent Walks – Groups across the U.S held Silent Walks in solidarity with messages of peace and reconciliation. Taking Steps Silent Walk at Tufts UniversityParticipants wore Taking Steps patches, laces, and shoes– hand-embroidered with the Bird of Peace. Silent Walks were held at Tufts University (Medford, MA), Congregation Kol Ami (White Plains, NY), and as part of the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom’s 2016  Muslim & Jewish Women Leadership Conference.


3. Trained Peacemakers – The Parents Circle brought together more than 100 alumni of our Parallel Narrative Two-Sides projectExperience (PNE) project, to design and implement joint projects, including a Hebrew-Arabic phrasebook, a Palestinian rights website, a culture club, and an Internet-based cross-border program for families.


4. Represented by Youth Peace Delegations – We were honored to send 3 groups of PCFF Youth Peace delegation to ItalyIsraeli and Palestinian youth/young adult peace leaders to serve as representatives to Koyasan, Japan, where they met the Japanese Prime Minister, and to Italy, where Israeli and Palestinian youth met and engaged with Italian youth. Learn more about our Young Ambassadors for Peace.

5. Increased Female Facilitators – This year, we saw a 70% increase in the number of PCFF Women's Groupfemale facilitators for our activities, including delegations abroad, narrative groups, and dialogue meetings. The remarkable growth in the number of bereaved female leaders in the Parents Circle owes much to the great success of our 2015 Indiegogo campaign, Israeli and Palestinian Women Become Peace Leaders.

6. Midwest Tour & New Israeli General Director – We were honored Rami Elhanan and George and Najwa Sa'adeh speak in Madison, WIto speak to groups in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Our bereaved speakers were hosted by churches, synagogues, and other groups in the Midwest to share their powerful stories of loss, peace, and reconciliation. We were delighted to have Rami Elhanan, the new Israeli General Director of the Parents Circle, as one of the speakers. Rami lost his 13-year-old daughter, Smadar, when she was killed in a suicide bombing in Jerusalem in September, 1997.

All of these amazing accomplishments were made possible by contributions made by our friends and supporters. Thank you for your help and support this year!