This post is part of a series on peacemakers I met in Israel/Palestine.One of the must stunning conversations from our trip to Israel and Palestine was with Robi Damelin and Bassam Aramin. Robi is Israeli and Bassam is Palestinian. They’ve both lost a child in the conflict from the opposing group. You would think this would make them enemies, yet they have chosen forgiveness as their revenge. In that process an unlikely friendship emerged. One of the most powerful parts of the above video, and indeed from my time in Israel/Palestine, is considering the fact that most Israelis don’t personally know a Palestinian, and most Palestinians don’t personally know an Israeli. These conditions are ripe to foster a view of an enemy out of the other. We do this with all sorts of people in America today that we often talk about yet know none of them personally. This could apply to many people’s view of Muslims, refugees, gay people, immigrants, or anyone else who we often form strong opinions about without also forming strong friendships with them. Peace begins by acknowledging the humanity of the others despite our differences or disagreements. I had seen Robi and Bassam speak at a Christian conference in the states a few years back, but it was fantastic to have the opportunity to spend some extended time with them while we were there. It was more than a bit challenging to watch how a Jew (Robi) and a Muslim (Bassam) displayed the radical love of Jesus for enemies better than most Christians do. I don’t know how you can walk away from experiencing their story and the love that developed between them and not be moved to your core. Here are some of the moving things they said in our time together:
- When you make peace with yourself, you have no enemies.
- Recognizing shared pain changes everything.
- There’s no such thing as revenge for a lost child.
- You may not kill anybody in the name of my child.
- Forgiving is giving up your just right for revenge.
- Dehumanizing people is always costly.
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