[Monday, January 11]
“We are not doomed. We are not called to revenge. If you listen to the pain of another, they will listen to your pain and you can begin the long process toward reconciliation and peace.” That was the opening statement from an Israeli Jew at the beginning of a forum presentation made to the Canadian Lutheran World Relief’s Global Encounter team last Saturday evening.
Two men, one the Israeli Jew quoted above and a Palestinian Muslim told their personal stories of pain. For the Israeli, his fourteen year old daughter, known by all as “The Princess” due to her high level of achievement in academics, arts and sports was blown up in a suicide bomb attack. The Palestinian lost his father when he was shot at a border check point for no apparent reason. As a result, he had to go out and earn a living for his family and was denied the opportunity to pursue a higher level of education and the opportunities that brings.
Both are members of the Parent’s Circle – Family Forum Organization which advocates for peace through dialogue among those most affected by the political situation in this part of the world. The organization began in 2000 and since then there have been 7,000 families affected by senseless death. The organization sends pairs of members, one Israeli and one Palestinian to schools on both sides of the border to show that cooperation is possible. For many children of either country it would be the first time they would have seen an Israeli and Palestinian together, much less as friends and calling one another brother.
The organization also sponsors television series and children’s camps.
When asked why Israel acts the way it seems to do when Jews have been so deeply persecuted themselves, the Israeli representative said, “Israel acts like the battered child who turns into an abusive parent.” In a similar manner, the Palestinian said that many of his country people turn to radicalism and violence because they see no way out of their present situation.
Both agreed that they saw small signs of hope, particularly amongst the young. They said they are using the power of pain. It can bring revenge and bloodshed or it can bring peace and love through mutual understanding and empathy.