“Breaking the Walls between Us”

By Robi Damelin

Early Friday morning, buses left from all over Israel and Palestine and some 200 women came to be together and discover the humanity in the other in honor of International Women’s Day. It was thrilling to arrive and see how many new faces, friends of the bereaved members chose to spend the day together. This was such an opportunity for the Parents Circle to share our message with those who had never heard it.

This year we marked international Women’s Day in the West Bank so that Palestinian women from Jenin, Nablus, Beit Omar, Deheisha Refugee Camp and many other villages would be able to attend without having to ask for permits. After all, freedom of movement is a basic human right.

READ MORE

Children’s Deaths Unite Moms Across Cultures

Atlanta Jewish Times

by Patrice Worthy

An Israeli-Palestinian movement of mothers who have lost sons to the conflict is connecting with American mothers whose sons have been killed to form a united front against gun violence.

Israeli Robi Damelin founded Parents Circle Families Forum, an organization for bereaved Palestinian and Israeli families, after a Palestinian sniper killer her son David. She was angry, but she’s trying to channel that energy to do good.

“Right now is the most important time to use your voice for change,” she said. “You have to talk to people you don’t like or agree with; if not, they only become more radical.”

Damelin brings together other mothers who have lost sons to gun violence and hate.

She recently spoke about PCFF at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights with Lucia McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis, the 17-year-old killed in Florida by Michael Dunn in 2012 for playing loud music at a gas station.

READ MORE

Why do we call each other “brother”?

Arab Aramin and Yigal Elhanan, 2016 Memorial Day Ceremony
Arab Aramin, left, and Yigal Elhanan, 2016 Memorial Day Ceremony

My name is Arab Aramin. I am Palestinian, 22 years old. And my name is Yigal Elhanan. I am Israeli, 24 years old. We should hate each other. But instead, we call each other brother. Why? We both have lost our sisters in the bloody and violent conflict. We are united in our shared vision: no one else should lose a sister or any family member to this conflict.

The Parents Circle’s new Young Ambassadors Program will help train 25 bereaved Israeli and Palestinian young adults ages 18-27, like us, to become the next generation of peace leaders.

We ask that you make a contribution today to the end of year campaign to help us raise the $30,000 needed to carry out this program. In order to take our leadership to this next level, we require training, capacity building and more opportunities to meet each other, learn about each other and gain tools to break the silence.

We met each other in the summer of 2014 at the Parents Circle’s Youth Program – a week long summer program that brings bereaved and non-bereaved Israelis and Palestinians together. Over time, we have become united in fighting injustice together. This struggle is often lonely and cold. We need others to join us to break the cycle of violence.

 

In memory of our sisters, Abir and Smadar,

Arab Aramin and Yigal Elhanan

 

A Thanksgiving Message from Tal and Ibrahim

"I am thankful for all the blessings in the world. I think it's the best way to start and finish your day." --Ibrahim Shatat
“I am thankful for all the blessings in the world. I think it’s the best way to start and finish your day.” –Ibrahim Shatat

“My name is Ibrahim Shatat. I’m 25 years old, and from Beit Jala, Palestine. My sister, Irene, was 12 years old when she had an accident. She was hit by a car. And because we live in an occupied country, the Israeli army had closed the streets so cars could not get through. The army did not let the ambulance take her either, so she bled to death. She died in our arms.”
“I hope no one will lose their loved ones because it is so hard.”

Read more.


 

"I am thankful for the hope that still exists." --Tal Oren
“I am thankful for the hope that still exists.”
–Tal Oren

“My name is Tal Oren. I’m 20 years old, and from Herzlyia, Israel. On July 24, 1995, my grandmother, Zehava, was killed by a suicide bomber while riding the bus to Tel Aviv. I joined the Parents Circle following the footsteps of my family. I participated in many of the youth activities.”
“As a bereaved grandson, I know today that neither revenge nor violence will bring back my grandmother.”

Read more.

 


Both of these incredible people have chosen to become Young Ambassadors for Peace.

Please make a year-end gift so Ibrahim, Tal, and 25 other young Palestinian and Israeli adults can receive leadership and peacebuilidng training and become Young Ambassadors for Peace.

"As a human, I know the only way to end our conflict is the way of peace, reconciliation and dialogue." Tal Oren
“As a human, I know the only way to end our conflict is the way of peace, reconciliation and dialogue.”
Tal Oren

PCFF Members to speak at locations in OH, IN and more

We are excited to announce that 3 of the Parents Circle’s members– Rami Elhanan (the new Israeli General Director of the Parents Circle), and George and Najwa Sa’adeh– will be speaking at churches, synagogues, and elsewhere in the Midwest in October and November 2016.

Plymouth Congregational Church UCC (Fort Wayne, IN)

“Israeli and Palestinian Parents Grieve, Work Together for Justice and Peace” October 25, 6:30 pm at Plymouth Congregational Church of Fort Wayne. Organized by the Indiana Center for Middle East Peace.

ft-wayne-event

First Presbyterian Church of Tecumseh (Tecumseh, MI)

Their first speaking event is to be held at First Presbyterian Church of Tecumseh in Tecumseh, MI. The event, “Israeli and Palestinian Parents Grieve and Work Together for Justice,” will be on Wednesday, October 26.

tecumseh-mi-event

Bluffton University (Bluffton, OH)

The 3 will be speaking at Bluffton University in Bluffton, OH on Thursday, October 27.
READ MORE

Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (Elkhart, IN)

On Friday, October 28, they will be speaking at a public event in Elkhart, IN at the Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary.parents-circle-ambs

More information about this event can be found at the AMBS webpage.

Lakeside Congregation for Reform Judaism (Highland Park, IL)

They will be speaking at Lakeside Congregation on Wednesday, November 2.

north-shore-chicago-event

Our Lady of the Brook (Northbrook, IL)

Rami, George, and Najwa are to speak at Our Lady of the Brook Catholic Parish on Thursday, November 3.

pcff-flier-northbrook-version

The three are to speak at other locations in the Midwest in October and November. Make sure to check here and our twitter to stay up-to-date.

Read Rami Elhanan’s story

News article about the Sa’adeh’s

 

If They Can Choose Peace…Anyone Can

We are excited to launch our 2016 Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign to raise $15,000 so that we can connect and engage with bereaved Israelis and Palestinians who have not yet joined our organization, provide them with Parents Circle program scholarships and encourage them to join us in using their stories of loss to inspire hope and reconciliation.

We need your help! We have already raised 40% of our objective. Please make a donation and help us reach our goal. You can donate here.  

The Parents Circle doesn’t want new members; we want the cycle of violence to end, but this conflict continues to take innocent lives on both sides. Help us continue our efforts to reach out to the bereaved and invite them to take part in our programs. Our members are our greatest resource in combatting hatred and divisive propaganda, in the pursuit of a lasting peace and an end to the cycle of violence and bereavement.

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 $15,000. Share this page with your friends!

The funds we will raise will help our outreach coordinators meet with new members and will provide 15 scholarships for new members to participate in dialogue meetings, narrative workshops, and peacebuilding activities as they become advocates for peace and reconciliation.

You can help a little or a lot – please reach out to Christopher Beachy (americanfriendspc@gmail.com) if you have any questions about how to be involved.

In peace,

American Friends of the Parents Circle-Families Forum

Reconciliation Defeats Revenge

Picture12

While watching the bereaved African-American mothers on the stage at the Democratic Convention, I thought just how much we mothers, who have lost children, have in common, regardless of color, creed or national identity. I thought that all bereaved mothers in the world should rise up together and say, “Enough! Stop the killing. Let our children live out the course of their lives. We cannot continue to have the dreadful task of burying our sons and daughters and of continuing our motherhood by tending to graves and pretending that planting flowers and plants brings solace.”

Read the rest of this HuffPost blog article by PCFF spokesperson and bereaved mother, Robi Damelin, here.

Storymakers 2016

Help the Parents Circle-Families Forum spread its message of peace, reconciliation, and hope for bereaved Israelis and Palestinians! Vote for “Taking Steps” for TechSoup’s Storymakers 2016 challenge, share it on social media, and help us win $5000!

Watch the video and vote here.

“If I who lost a loved one to the conflict can walk the path of peace, then surely you can too.”

NPR Interview with the Parents Circle’s Bassam Aramin

A Palestinian Takes A Different Road In His Fight

Bassam NPR 2Hear and read from Bassam Aramin, the Parents Circle’s Palestinian spokesperson, about his youth in Palestine, and how his time in an Israeli prison and the loss of his daughter Abir to the conflict caused a radical change in his heart, from hatred to peace. From the NPR article:

Bassam Aramin was not born hating Israel, but he learned young.

He was 5 or 6 years old the first time he saw Israeli soldiers. This was about a decade after the 1967 war, when Israel captured the West Bank. Aramin’s large family lived an ancient lifestyle. Like many families in the area, their home was in a cave in the south, near Hebron. They farmed for a living.

Now 46, Aramin looks back on a fast track to hating and to fighting Israel that would be familiar to many Palestinians. But eventually he flipped — both his worldview and his ways.

He credits a very unexpected stir of empathy that happened in an unexpected place.

READ AND HEAR THE INTERVIEW

PCFF’s Robi Damelin Receives Dewey Award

Dewey Winburne SXSW flyer Robi SXSW Dewey 3Congratulations to the Parents Circle’s Israeli spokesperson, Robi Damelin! Robi was honored yesterday at SXSW’s Dewey Winburne Community Service Awards ceremony for her continued and brave work in peacebuilding and reconciliation in Israel and Palestine. From the SXSW webpage for the awards:

Dewey Winburne was one of the original co-founders of the SXSW Interactive Festival, but he was many other things in the Austin community: a family man, a teacher, a visionary, a connector and an innovator. He believed that technology could bridge the digital divide and help those less fortunate than others. Although Winburne passed away in 1999, his legacy continues. His life exemplified how one individual can truly make an impact in their community.

The Dewey Awards celebrate the spirit of community in Austin that we think is unique to SXSW. Each spring, ten recipients are recognized for their use of digital technology to help others. Each honoree will receive a complimentary registration to SXSW, a $1,000 grant to their favorite 501(c)(3) and a chance to spread the word about their work to the SXSW community.