Peace in our time


by Yoav Peck
Co-Director of Community Relations
Parents Circle – Families Forum

January 10, 2022

On Saturday, we completed the second group in a bi-national series for members, known as “Moving Transformations.” A project of the Parents Circle – Families Forum, with generous support from the Bread for the World Foundation, brings Palestinian and Israeli members together, who have in common that they have lost a close family member as a result of the conflict. The transformation they’ve made, each in their own way, is from grief, rage and revenge to reconciliation and peace-building.

Our purpose in this series is to enable the members to renew their commitment to reconciliation through direct contact, and on this occasion, to grapple with the idea that their personal loss contains within it a message, and that they can be the spokespeople of this message. Facing opposition to this sort of activity within their societies, and their own modesty, yet willing to engage with the other side, mutually learning in a hotel room overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem.

The Saturday workshop participants filmed each other and reviewed their short telephone clips together on a screen. Responding to each other’s work, movingly appreciating each other’s personal expression as they spoke through the films of their fallen children.

Often people who come from abroad will say to me, “We expect the turnaround, the momentum for change to come from Jerusalem.” I resent the expectation, until I remember that I have it too. In this photo, taken from the hotel room in which we held Saturday’s meeting, is the whole story of the middle east. The black dome of El Aksa, third holiest place in Islam, below it 100 meters away, the Western Wall, holiest physical expression of Judaism, and in the background, just to the right of the two towers, the grey domes of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where Jesus died on the cross.

The ultimate symbolic photo of the possibility of endless devastating enmity or achieving peace in our time.

We can do this, each of us, all of us. We draw inspiration from the Forum members who spent their Saturday in a hotel room with people from the other side, parents of fallen IDF soldiers with parents of fallen teenage Palestinian youths. Connecting over coffee, closing the gaps of misunderstanding, sharing their hopes with each other. Engaged in a process of mutual learning, daring to pave the way to the days after peace, when this sort of get-together will be natural and frequent.