The 68 Children Art Exhibition

by Robi Damelin
Bereaved Israeli mother and International Spokesperson
Parents Circle – Families Forum

The Palestinian and Israeli bereaved members of The Parents Circle have experienced a truth in the depths of the hole in the heart which never heals. An understanding that life will never be the same and that we must do anything possible to prevent others from suffering. This last war, just a repeat of the one before— only with more sophisticated weapons— took the lives of 68 Palestinian and Israeli children. Many of these children had nowhere to run, no shelter, and no safe haven. What good can possibly come from the pain of their families? A pain so intense that sometimes one cannot breathe. How much hatred and revenge can happen to the families of these dead children if we do not stop the killing. There must be hope for the future in the equation of peace, otherwise it will never happen.

68 compassionate artists created 68 illustrations, one for each child who died so senselessly. They wanted to express their pain and sadness through their art. Members of the Parents Circle met with Or Segal, the curator of the exhibition and the person who inspired so many to join in the commemoration of all of these children.  Who will remember them in the next years, so perhaps an illustration in their name will keep their memory alive.

These sensitive and heartbreaking illustrations are not all sad and depressing; there are expressions of kindness and understanding and it is hoped that those who come to view the exhibition (which is part of Illustration Week) will take a picture home and hang it in a child’s room, not only as a beautiful decorative illustration, but with the message that children are precious and that they can be educated to reconciliation and non-violence, which is the message of all of the members of the Parents Circle. Children can be taught the sanctity of human life.

One thing that has become clear over the years is that the pain of loss is the same for both Palestinians and Israelis, and the tears that fall over any grave are the same color. Our children scream out from their graves to stop the violence. Surely it is time to look for another way. Just look into the eyes of a mother who has lost a child and you will see the sadness which is always there, no matter how joyful the occasion.

The generous artists are donating all the proceeds of the Exhibition to the Parents Circle – Families Forum. The funds will be well spent. Each year we run a summer camp for bereaved Palestinian and Israeli children. It is so heartwarming to watch the transformation from “fear of the other” to friendship. By the time the camp is over, these children do not want to go home. It is so rewarding to see that those who came as youngsters are now the facilitators, and some have even become Young Ambassadors for our message.

We have found that there is more that unites us than divides us. We are all members of one family: the human family.

The exhibition was open from the 18 – 27th November at the Social Space Gallery in Tel Aviv.