On 21 Apr 2007 12:44:06 -0700, "Damian J. Anderson"
>Cracking the Walls of Hate and Fear
>By Joy Pople
>"We can break this endless cycle of revenge, retaliation and
>punishment; the only way to do it is to listen to the pain of the
>other," said Rami Elhanan, an Israeli Jew whose fourteen-year-old
>daughter was killed in a suicide attack in Jerusalem.
>Jewish Israeli Rami Elhanan of the Bereaved Families Forum lost his 14
>year old daughter to a suicide bomber
>He and a Palestinian who had lost a brother in the conflict were
>speaking on behalf of the Bereaved Families Forum to 120 participants
>in the Universal Peace Federation's Middle East Peace Initiative in
>Jerusalem April 10-16, 2007.
>Dr. Frank Kaufmann of UPF moderates the session on reconciliation
You *moonies* speak of "reconciliation" well where is it for the
millions of lives you have already corrupted along your merry way!
There are MANY STILL waiting, including I.
>A graphic designer whose family has roots in Jerusalem dating back
>seven generations, Rami described the day his daughter Smadir died,
>September 4, 1997. When he heard the news of a suicide bombing near
>where his daughter and her friends were shopping on Ben-Yehuda Street
>in Jerusalem, he went running in the streets and then from hospital to
>hospital looking for her. Finally he found her body at the morgue. "It
>was a sight and time I will never ever be able to forget, and it
>changed my life completely," he said.
>He had been a young soldier during the Yom Kippur War in a company
>that had eleven tanks at the start of the war and only three at its
>close. He lost good friends and ended the war with the determination
>to look out after himself. He got married, and he and his wife had
>four children. After Smadir's death, their house was filled for seven
>days and seven nights with thousands and thousands of people coming to
>pay condolences, during the Jewish period of mourning. On the eighth
>day he found himself alone facing the decision of what to do with the
>sea of anger within himself.
>"I'm a Jew. I'm an Israeli. Before anything else, I am a human being,"
>Rami said. "There are only two options. The first is the obvious one:
>when someone kills your child you want to get angry. Most people
>choose the way of hatred and retaliation. But we are people, not
>animals; we can think. You ask yourself if killing anyone will bring
>her back, if causing pain to anyone will ease your pain."
>At first he thought he could go back to his normal life and pretend
>that nothing had happened. But life was not normal any more. Then he
>met Yitzhak Frankenthal, who co-founded the gatherings of bereaved
>families in 1995, after his son Arik was kidnapped and murdered.
>Yitzhak invited Rami to come to a meeting, where he saw people he had
>long admired, such as Yaacov Guterman, a Holocaust survivor who lost
>his son Raz during the war in Lebanon. For the first time in his life
>he saw Palestinian bereaved families, and they shook his hand and
>cried with him. An old Arab lady had a picture of her six-year-old kid
>on her chest.
>"I'm not a very religious person," Rami reflected. "I cannot explain
>what happened to me that minute nine years ago. I know this: from that
>moment on I devote my life to go anywhere to speak to anyone, those
>who listen and those who do not want to listen, to convey one simple
>truth: we are not doomed. It is not our destiny to keep murdering. If
>I am listening to the pain of my brother here, whom I really love like
>my own brother, I can expect him to listen to my own pain. We can go
>on the long and difficult journey and together we can go to peace. We
>put cracks of hope in the wall of hatred and fear. We say that our
>blood is the same color. Our pain is the same pain. We paid the
>highest price possible. If we can talk to one another, anyone can."
>Rami is the son of a Holocaust survivor. As his grandparents were
>taken to the ovens in Europe, the free and civilized nations never
>lifted a finger. He expressed appreciation for people with open hearts
>who come to the Holy Land to listen, learn and work for peace.
>The Bereaved Families Forum sends pairs of Jews and Palestinians to
>speak in high schools. In Israeli schools, they ask how many students
>in their audience had met a Palestinian before, and most of them never
>had. In Palestinian schools, the young people tell them they had never
>met an Israeli other than a soldier. Through the Bereaved Families
>Forum, young people have a new type of encounter. In 2006, they held
>meetings in more than 1,000 schools. Students tell them: "You opened a
>new way of thinking for us," and "This changed my life." The
>organization hosts a call-in radio program in Arabic and Hebrew on All
>for Peace Radio and a telephone hotline that gives Jews and
>Palestinians an opportunity to talk to each other. In four years, more
>than four million phone calls were placed. They also run summer camps
>for Israeli and Palestinian teens who have lost family members to
>Aziz Abu Sarah came with Rami to tell his family's story. A fourth-
>generation resident of Jerusalem, Aziz is the Palestinian chairman of
>the Bereaved Families Forum.
>Aziz Abu Sarah a Muslim Palestinian lost his 11 year old brother to
>"When people come here and spend a few days touring the Holy Land,
>they start feeling hopeless," Aziz began. They see how people are
>living and don't know any way to make a difference.
>"I grew up in Bethany," he explained. "It was a normal childhood, in a
>sense, but nothing is normal here. By the time I was seven I had been
>shot at. I saw a neighbor killed. If it's not near your home, it's not
>so close. When I was nine, soldiers came into our house looking for
>something and didn't find it, so they took my older brother. We
>finally figured out that he was suspected of throwing stones. He was
>beaten during interrogation. They released him, but already his liver
>and spleen were damaged. We took him to the hospital where he had
>surgery. But a few days later he died."
>It was the brother closest in age to him, and they were very close.
>Aziz became very angry and very bitter. "I believed it was my duty to
>avenge my brother. I got involved very early in politics. I was an
>editor of a [Fatah] youth publication in Jerusalem by age sixteen. My
>writing was very much like the media you listen to today. It wasn't
>anything good. I wanted to leave the country. All the anger and
>bitterness makes you empty within."
>At age eighteen, he was living in Jerusalem and didn't speak a word of
>Hebrew because it was the language of his enemy. He had run away from
>every class in Hebrew for two years but finally decided to learn
>Hebrew, because he realized that if he wanted to succeed in life he
>realized he had to communicate in Hebrew. He went to the school where
>immigrants study Hebrew.
>Previously, Aziz's only encounter with the other side was with
>soldiers or settlers. In that class, he got to meet the other side.
>"In this conflict," he explained, "people demonize the other side. If
>you demonize the other, you don't feel bad when they are killed.
>That's how a lot of people grow up. In the class the teacher was nice
>to me. The students were nice to me. They looked the same as me; they
>wanted to be my friends, and it made no sense of me. If you are sure
>of something all your life, it's very unsettling. It was very
>redeeming and very refreshing to see that we are all human beings."
>He learned that he has the power of choice in his life. "Just because
>someone chose to kill my brother and act in a way that was very
>inhumane, I didn't have to choose that. I grew up believing that I
>didn't have a choice. So many people here don't believe they have a
>When he makes presentations in classrooms Aziz challenges the young
>people. They think that if someone bombs them, they have to bomb back.
>They don't understand the alternatives they have. One side wants to
>kill all the Arabs. One side wants to throw all the Jews into the sea.
>"Israelis want security, but the only way you can get what you want is
>to help others get what they want. We do a lot of dialogue work. We
>say we lost those who are close to us. We put our hatred and anger
>behind us. Rami is one of my closest friends. I think it is kind of
>ironic that a Palestinian can say an Israeli is one of my closest
>friends. If I'm in trouble, this is the one I call, and he has to help
>me out. We show people it is possible. If Rami and I can call each
>other brothers, anybody can."
>Aziz co-hosts a show on All For Peace Radio; he also runs an
>organization aimed at empowering Palestinian youth.
>Joy Pople is Assistant Communications Director of the Universal Peace