Fathers' grief leads to activism and hope

Fathers' grief leads to activism and hope
Tuesday 23 May 2023

On Monday night, members of the ANU and Canberra community united for a special conversation with self-proclaimed 'brothers' and peacebuilders Rami Elhanan and Bassam Aramin. 

Rami Elhanan and Bassam Aramin are both former co-directors of The Parents Circle – Families Forum, a joint Israeli-Palestinian organisation of over 600 families, all of whom have lost an immediate family member to the ongoing conflict. Rami identifies himself as a Jew, an Israeli and a human being. On the first day of the school year in 1997, Rami’s daughter, Smadar, was killed by two Palestinian suicide bombers. Bassam lives in Jericho in the West Bank. He is a former Palestinian resistance fighter who spent seven years in an Israeli jail. In 2007 he lost his 10 year old daughter Abir, when she was killed by an Israeli border policeman in front of her school.  United by their heartbreaking losses, both Rami and Bassam now devote their time and energy to promoting a peaceful, non-violent end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In her introduction for the event, Freilich Project Convenor Dr Melissa Lovell acknowledged that Bassam and Rami’s mission to promote peace, dialogue and understanding between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples is strongly aligned with the Freilich Project’s objective of promoting conversation, awareness and empathy between people of diverse backgrounds. During the event, Rami and Bassam each spoke earnestly about their experiences of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, before inviting the audience to ask them any question--whether personal or political. Fielding several questions about their preferred outcome to the conflict, both Rami and Bassam emphasised that no particular governance arrangement--whether one state, two states or five states--would have any chance of success unless Israeli and Palestianian people could learn to respect one another and genuinely listen to each others' perspective.

We Need to Talk: Peacebuilders Rami and Bassam in conversation at ANU was brought to Canberra by media company Plus61J and was supported, within the ANU, by The Research School of Social Sciences, The Centre of Arab & Islamic Studies and the Freilich Project for the Study of Bigotry. 

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