What’s New

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!



“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.


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


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.


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!

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