Of all the sites we visited and experts we heard from in Israel, meeting the women of the Parents Circle was one of the most moving.
The Parents Circle is a joint Israeli & Palestinian organization made up of over 600 families who have lost an immediate family member in the conflict. We talked and made jam with some of these women, mostly grieving mothers, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim, all who spoke of how the Parents Circle had given their sadness a purpose as they worked towards peace-building.
These stories are hard to hear. Some of these deaths came from snipers or mistakes. The women didn't all agree on political issues or national narratives. But their collective loss made them long for peace.
Our group was able to meet them in a neutral space, as the military checkpoints can make meetings like this nearly impossible. We used a translator if needed, but once we were all in the kitchen, the language was universal. We cooked and joked, and even celebrated a birthday. With a war happening just steps away, it was an afternoon like none of us had experienced.
We met Robi Damelin, an Israeli who lost her son David to a Palestinian sniper. She spoke to us specifically about women's role in the conflict, how what they're teaching in their home informs the next generation.
"Women are the ultimate victims of war. No one asks us if we should go to war, if we should sign the cease fire, or if we should perhaps go for peace." - Robi Damelin
Her words and story made a great impact on me, and I am honored to be hosting her this weekend at brunch at Kristen Howerton's home (the blogger behind Rage Against the Minivan). She'll be with Bassam Aramin, a father whose young daughter was killed by Israeli soldiers, and they'll talking with a group of us about their ideas and passion for reconciliation. You can read an interview with Robi Damelin and Bassam Aramin from NPR here.
The brunch is an open invitation, if you're local I would love for you to join us. These issues are complicated, I'm still learning from so many sources. This brunch is just a conversation. A side of it perhaps you haven't seen. RSVP to the event here, and make sure and let me know you're coming.