Bereaved Palestinian and Israeli parents speak at launch of groundbreaking ‘Invest in Peace’ initiative

Hundreds of people across three events this week heard two bereaved parents – one Israeli and one Palestinian – speak about their hopes for peace and reconciliation.

Robi Damelin and Bassam Aramin, of the Parents Circle – Family Forum were speaking at ‘Invest in Peace’, a joint initiative between the Board of Deputies of British Jews and Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, which invites Christians and Jews to support Israeli-Palestinian peacebuilding.

There were three sessions, at Hampstead Synagogue – in partnership with St Andrews United Reformed Church; Hinde Street Methodist Church – with the West London Synagogue; and Muswell Hill Synagogue – with Muswell Hill United Reformed Church.

At the Hinde Street event, which was chaired by Guardian journalist Jonathan Freedland, Bassam explained that he asked his oldest son to swear an oath on the Quran never to use violence in the conflict following the shooting of his 10-year-old daughter. “Revenge and fear is the motivation to continue this bloody conflict.” Speaking about how “most Palestinians believe the Holocaust is a lie”, Bassam spoke of his journey which culminated in visits to Yad Vashem, and a Masters in Holocaust Studies.

Robi, whose son was killed by a Palestinian sniper, said: “Losing David was impossible for me but this is the best way I can commemorate my child, by educating.” She explained, “There must be a reconciliation process. If not, there won’t be peace.”

Board of Deputies Vice-President Marie Van der Zyl said: “While geopolitics shouldn’t define the relationship between Britain’s different religious groups, we often find faith communities at loggerheads on the Middle East and taking stances which cause division between us. Invest in Peace presents an opportunity for Christian and Jewish communities to export peace rather than importing the conflict and the success of these events proves that this is the right path.”

The Revd Peter Colwell, Deputy General Secretary of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland said: “With so much violence, hatred and suspicion in the world, there is a critical need for different faith groups to come together. This is no less true that in relation to Israel-Palestine, where Jews and Christians often disagree, and cause each other pain in that disagreement. This approach aims to build bridges and create a sense of hope.”

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