July 20th, 2005
This day ended with a meeting with two representatives
from an organisation called The Bereaved Parents Association. The Association
is a platform for those who have lost a relative and choose to use their
pain and loss to achieve peace.
The Israeli man Rami told us how, as young men, he fought
in the 1967 war and lost many of his friends. That after the War he
closed himself off from the World and had only interest in himself,
his family and his job. He shared with us the pleasure of watching his
daughter grow up. He also told us about the despair and pain he went
through when at the age of 14, she was killed in a suicide bombing.
As a result he had the urge to go out and carry out an act of reprisal.
He also shared the struggle he went through when he realised that an
aggressive response was not the only option but that using the pain,
the tears to break down walls was a far better alternative.
On the other hand, The Palestinian man, Aziz, told us
how he was raised and aspects about his upbringing; for example he was
an avid soccer player. He wanted to share with us the smaller details
of his home, for example, how he shared a room with three of his brothers.
One night, when he was 14 years old, Israeli soldiers
came to search his house but found nothing. Because they didn't find
anything, they then accused his elder brother of throwing stones and
arrested him. His brother was taken to a prison and interrogated which
also meant he was tortured. Because of the torture he confessed throwing
stones after a few days. And as a result he was sentenced to prison
for a year. I cannot recall if he told his brother actually stayed in
prison the whole year or was sent home earlier. But when he got home
he was throwing up blood and was taken to hospital. He died there after
two days as a result of the torturing.
Aziz, too, went through this phase of anger. He became
a member of Al Fatah and was an editor for a magazine of that organisation.
And for a few years his life was dominated by anger and aggression until
he realised that he was trapped in this circle of anger. He felt that
he was de-humanising himself as he got caught up carrying out acts of
aggression as a result of being so hurt and angry. He eventually realised
too that there must be another way. Rami's and Aziz's paths soon crossed
thanks to this organisation and a close friendship between them soon
blossomed based on a mutual experience of deep pain. They work as a
team for the Bereaved Parents Organisation.
This organisation has been involved in approximately
one thousand meetings a year, similar to the one we had. In this way,
they have spoken to so many people and have therefore succeeded in getting
their point across. The organisation also has a chat line that enables
Israelis and Palestinians to talk to one another. They have had a great
success rate and they estimated that half a million of people have used
this line in the past two years. And tonight their first of a twice-weekly
radio programme will be aired.
Their common belief they have is that pain and tears
can break down walls. However, they mentioned that concrete walls are
the easiest to break and cultural walls are the most difficult but they
should practice their belief somehow. Halfway during the meeting, they
showed us a video about children that have lost a relative spending
a vacation together in a summer camp. These children played together,
prepared food together and were generally having a good time. And while
they were there, the news of a terrible event came through: another
horrible suicide bombing had taken place. The killer happened to be
a family member of one of the children there. The child's comment was
blatant but true: "you do not choose your family so I do not feel guilty."
This video (amongst other things) will be taken home
by most of the internationals here. So if you are interested, contact
the one of the internationals living close to you.
What else happened today? The last day of Compassionate
Listening took place and it went very well (hurray for Martin!). Two
thousand trees arrived today waiting to be planted as of tomorrow.
And we, the organising team, had some disagreements
over some things. I really think we came out a better team. It was a
long and intense day and a good one.