Tufts Visions of Peace hosted “It Won’t Stop Until We Talk” in Goddard Chapel on Monday night with representatives from The Parents Circle – Families Forum, an organization advocating for peace in Israel and Palestine that is made up of people who have lost family members to the conflict.
The event, which was sponsored by Tufts Hillel, the Peace and Justice Studies Program and the Office of the Chief Diversity Officer, featured Robi Damelin, an Israeli woman whose son was killed by a Palestinian sniper, and Bassam Aramin, a man from the West Bank whose daughter was shot by Israeli police. Neither Damelin nor Aramin advocated for a particular policy position, instead focusing on the need for dialogue and peace between the two sides.
The event began with brief remarks from sophomores Andrew Goldblatt and Eitan Bloostein, who organized the talk. The majority of the event consisted of speeches by Damelin and Aramin.
Aramin explained that he resented and acted violently toward Israel when he was young, which culminated in a seven-year stint in jail. However, while in jail, his perspective began to change when he watched a movie about the Holocaust.
“The most difficult thing to recognize is the pain of your enemy,” he said.
After leaving prison and starting a family, Aramin said he became interested in fighting for justice in Palestine through non-violent means, partially so that his son would not also turn to violence. He worked toward this through the organization Combatants for Peace, which is made up of Palestinian ex-militants and former Israeli soldiers.
In spite of his desire for non-violence, in 2007, Aramin lost his daughter when she was 10 years old. Nonetheless, because he knew many Israeli police and soldiers through peace dialogues, he did not wish for a violent response to her death.
“From the beginning, I said, ‘I don’t ask for revenge, I ask for justice,'” he said.
Damelin then spoke about her nonviolence advocacy. She said that, after her son was killed by a Palestinian sniper, her immediate response was to say that nobody should be killed in his name or to avenge his death. According to Damelin, she realized that her son’s death reflected the conflict as a whole.
Damelin said that her vision to end conflicts of any kind is through calls from people on all sides to end the bloodshed. Thus, her current goal is to get in contact with the man who killed her son, who is in prison. Through letters to the man, his parents and other inmates, she has expressed her desire for him to denounce violence, which she believes would send a powerful message.
“If he could say that maybe a nonviolent path would be a better way to go,” Damelin said. “Can you imagine how that would affect Israelis and Palestinians?”
Damelin‘s and Aramin‘s speeches were followed by a silent walk on the roof of Tisch Library.