Last night we had a riveting lecture by two members of the restorative justice organization known as the Parents’ Circle. Ali, a Palestinian, and Robbi, an Israeli Jew, both have had family members killed in the greater conflict and both told the stories of their respective deaths. Ali’s brother, who was his only caretaker when his politically active mother was in jail, and Robbi’s son, an IDF reserve officer shot by a sniper, were wonderful and caring people. Hearing Robbi and Ali tell their stories brought home the senselessness of their respective deaths especially with the backdrop of the murder of a Jewish settler the night before. Both Robbi and Ali struggled with their pain and came to realize that the only people who could relate were those who had suffered a similar fate.
In the Parents’ Circle family members of those who have died have the opportunity to tell the stories of their loved ones, in something that resembles group therapy. Members are there for each other to help with the downs and to help people move on and continue with their lives. Although we did not get much into the therapeutic effects of memberships, it was clear that they felt they had a purpose to educate others of the conflict’s toll and to help others in similar situations.
Most of our discussion was focused on forgiveness. How can you forgive someone for taking a loved one? What is forgiveness? Does the anger simply go away? What about justice and revenge, and how are they different? These are big questions with many authors devoting many pages to answering them. But both Ali and Robbi made it clear that the answers are simply within each of us. Forgiveness looks different to different people. The anger doesn’t go away but it’s simply how to manage it when it comes, and understanding that vengeance simply creates more victims. Essentially, they’ve decided to do their best to stop the conflict spiral that is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In my mind, you can’t ask them for any more.
Thanks for sharing your stories and here’s hoping you are rewarded for your efforts.