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.

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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.

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