by Robi Damelin
This for me is one of the most difficult letters I will ever have to write. My name is Robi Damelin, I am the mother of David who was killed by your son. I know he did not kill David because he was David, if he had known him he could never have done such a thing.
David was 28 years old, he was a student at Tel-Aviv University doing his Masters in the Philosophy of Education, David was part of the peace movement and did not want to serve in the occupied territories. He had a compassion for all people and understood the suffering of the Palestinians, he treated all around him with dignity. David was part of the movement of the Officers who did not want to serve in the occupied territories but nevertheless for many reasons he went to serve when he was called to the reserves.
What makes our children do what they do, they do not understand the pain they are causing, your son by now having to be in jail for many years and mine who I will never be able to hold and see again or see him married, or have a grandchild from him. I cannot describe to you the pain I feel since his death and the pain of his brother and girlfriend, and of all who knew and loved him.
All my life I have spent working for causes of co-existence, both in South Africa and here. After David was killed I started to look for a way to prevent other families both Israeli and Palestinian from suffering this dreadful loss. I was looking for a way to stop the cycle of violence, nothing for me is more sacred than human life, no revenge or hatred can ever bring my child back. After a year, I closed my office and joined the Parents Circle - Families Forum. We are a group of Israeli and Palestinian families who have all lost an immediate family member in the conflict. We are looking for ways to create a dialogue with a long term vision of reconciliation.
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. This is not easy for anyone and I am just an ordinary person not a saint. I have now come to the conclusion that I would like to try to find a way to reconcile. Maybe this is difficult for you to understand or believe, but I know that in my heart it is the only path that I can choose, for if what I say is what I mean it is the only way.
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.
Our lives as two nations are so intertwined, each of us will have to give up on our dreams for the sake of the future of the children who are our responsibility.
I give this letter to people I love and trust to deliver, they will tell you of the work we are doing, and perhaps create in your hearts some hope for the future. I do not know what your reaction will be, it is a risk for me, but I believe that you will understand, as it comes from the most honest part of me. I hope that you will show the letter to your son, and that maybe in the future we can meet.
Let us put an end to the killing and look for a way through mutual understanding and empathy to live a normal life, free of violence.
On March 3rd 2002, during the high peak of the 2000's Intifada, a Palestinian sniper opened fire on an IDF roadblock in the WB and managed to shoot to death 10 people, soldiers and civilians alike. the roadblock was a death trap since it was serrounded by high hills. Shortly after 6:30 on Sunday morning, a Palestinian sniper opened fire at an army roadblock 1.5 kilometers north of Ofra on the Ramallah-Nablus road from his carbine, killing 10 soldiers and civilians and wounding four, before escaping unharmed. With his first shots, the gunman killed the three soldiers deployed behind concrete blocks surrounding the roadblock. Soldiers sleeping in the adjacent building were alerted by the gunfire and raced out to the roadblock, only to be shot dead,one after the other. Also killed were civilians and soldiers who arrived by car at the roadblock.Platoon commander Lieutenant David Damelin heard the shooting and left the barracks. He went around the building to the north of the checkpoint to asist the others and was shot dead.
3 weeks ago I created here an item in memory of a girl which her death in a Palestinian stabbing terror attack, exactly 10 years ago, symbolised the tragedy of the Middle East conflict, since she herself was a pro Palestinian activist.
This is another memory for another tragic symbol, which yesterday was his memory day - if you juat read the letter his mother wrote in 2009 to the mother of the Palestinian sniper, and later to the Palestinian himself you will understand why.
The sniper said in response he doesn't want to meet the mother, and also replied he is proud of killing her son.
He was released several months ago in the Shalit prisoner swap. Robi Damelin published then an article in which she explained why she supports the release of the killer of her son in exchange of Shalit freedom.
This is the most tragic aspect of war- you also kill those who want to help you, who wish to be your friends, those which were put by fate from both sides of the fence, even that in another time, or another dimension they could have been the best friends in the world.
Last photo shows Ali Abu Awwad and Robi Damelin meeting through the Parents Circle after his brother and her son were killed, from the Guardian:
She's Israeli, he's an Arab. War has made them like mother and son
Click to view image: 'ca74f22864aa-moti4163_whj.jpg'
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