ISRAELI PALESTENIAN COUPLE VISIT SYRACUSE TO RAISE AWARNESS


On the evening of March 14th, the Middle Eastern Studies Program and the Moynihan Institute for Global Affairs welcomed to Syracuse two speak- ers from the Parents Circle-Families Forum organization. Robi Damelin, an Israeli, and Ali Abu Awwad, a Palestinian, spoke for over 90 minutes to an attentive and inquisitive audience in the Public Events room in Eggers Hall about their close encounters with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the urgent need to work for peace. As part of an organization of over 500 bereaved families who have lost immediate family members or loved ones in the conflict, Ali and Robi spoke about the need for people to transcend their differences to achieve a stable and lasting peace in the region. When presented with a difficult question regarding the hotly disputed history of the conflict, Damelin was quick to respond: “We could sit here and talk about the facts for hours, but where will that get us at the end of the day? We need to work hard for peace.” Awwad also faced challenging ques- tions from members of the audience, including from a group of students from the countries of the Middle East and North Africa who were visit- ing Maxwell as part of the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI). In response to a question from one of the MEPI participants, Awwad, who lost his older brother in the conflict, rose to his feet and urged his audience to try and understand that the conflict is not one-sided. “You are not my enemy, and I am not your enemy,” he told one of the audience members from the region, “the enemy is the thought that there cannot be peace.” One of the most poignant moments was when Damelin revealed to the au- dience the special relationship that she had developed with Awwad since they met several years ago. It was only a short time after getting to know each other that Damelin discovered that Ali was born on the same day and year as her youngest son who was killed four years ago in the conflict. The evening concluded with a special dinner to honor both Robi and Ali for making the trip to Syracuse and for bringing these issues to light for the community. For those who are curious about learning more about Robi, Ali, and their organization, please visit www.theparentscircle.com.