In preparation for this week’s program, “No More Taking Sides,” we’ve been following the recent developments in Robi Damelin’s life. Our show includes this film clip from the documentary Encounter Point of Robi reading the letter she wrote to the family of her son’s killer.

In 2005, just a few months after Ta’er Hamad had been arrested, she wrote:

After your son was captured, I spent many sleepless nights thinking about what to do, should I ignore the whole thing, or will I be true to my integrity and to the work that I am doing and try to find a way for closure and reconciliation…

…I understand that your son is considered a hero by many of the Palestinian people, he is considered to be a freedom fighter, fighting for justice and for an independent viable Palestinian state, but I also feel that if he understood that taking the life of another may not be the way and that if he understood the consequences of his act, he could see that a non-violent solution is the only way for both nations to live together in peace.

Over three years later, Robi indirectly received a defiant, militant reply from Mr. Hamad via its publication by a Palestinian news agency:

“Just as I refused to directly address the soldier’s mother, I cannot wish to meet her. I cannot meet with the occupier of our land on the same land. I carried out the operation as part of the struggle for freedom, justice and the establishment of an independent state, not out of a lust or love for killing. Acts of violence are a necessity imposed upon us by the occupation and I shall not abandon this path for as long as the occupation continues.”

In response, Robi wrote:

“Ta’er, how ironic, the people who most wanted to protect me from the words in your letter were my Palestinian friends and other bereaved parents in our group. They of all people have the right to talk about my actions and who I am for we have worked together for more than 6 years to try to end this terrible conflict and to give both sides a chance to live with a sense of dignity free from the terrible fear which engulfs us and gives us all the excuse for violence. The tears I saw in the eyes of my Palestinian partners in the Parents Circle when they met me after you chose to publish the letter were tears of understanding and yes friendship and love…”

“… The wisest reaction I had to the words of your letter came from my wonderful son Eran, who I thought would be terribly angry. Well he said, listen mum, perhaps this is the beginning of a dialog.”

In the audio embedded up top, Trent recently spoke with Robi from her home in Tel Aviv to learn more about how she’s reflecting on this exchange, and what it means for her work with the Parents Circle - Families Forum. It’s worth a listen to hear her ongoing tenacity.


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Reflections

According to Jewish law, saving lives is supposed to be the most important thing. The Israelis are too scared too scared to remember that.There are indeed many religious people in Israel and the US that are not part of the settler groups.

On the Arab side there is a great deal of antisemitism of Western origin now permeates the Arab world.

As i listened to this broadcast of two ordinary people trying to do extraordinary things in the name of peace, i wondered if we can use this example in the US to bring the Right, the Left and Independents together to change the tenor of the conversation in the US. I liked what Robie said about being pro one way or another and how the "taking of sides" is in itself so decisive (my words, not her's, but that is the message i took from what she said). I would love to connect with people who are interested in trying to bring these three groups together to have a civil discourse about how to make changes in the US.

Parents Circle is a brave and bold answer to killing. I applaud Robi and Ali for their efforts.

As is so often the case when I listen to SOF, this broadcast held me captive. I was literally moved to tears by the courage and strength of these two people turning their pain into the strongest kind of peace. I have taken inspiration from their efforts. On a smaller scale, I have struggled to find a peaceful and productive solution for the intractable struggles between myself and my ex-husband. This struggle causes only pain for my children. I have taken inspiration from "No More Taking Sides" and I will think of this as I attempt to inject peace into my personal situation. This may sound mundane in comparison to the problems of a war zone but I believe that in order to produce adults who can create peace we need to be able to foster peace and love in our own homes.

apples