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Middle East Crisis Through 2 Parents' Eyes: 1 Israeli, 1 Palestinian


Two people have been talking to us from what, as we've heard, is starting to look a lot like a war zone. One is Israeli; the other is Palestinian. He lives in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. She lives near Tel Aviv, which came under missile fire from Hamas after violence in East Jerusalem. Neither one of them accepts the views of the people driving this conflict. Both of them want a negotiated solution. They are members of the Parents Circle. That group brings together Israelis and Palestinians who have lost kids to violence. These two parents have been meeting face-to-face for years. We've heard from them on NPR from time to time. And after Tuesday night's violence, they talked to our co-host Steve.

ROBI DAMELIN: My name is Robi Damelin, and I'm Israeli. And the reason that I joined the Parents Circle was that my son David was killed by a Palestinian sniper.

BASSAM ARAMIN: My name is Bassam Aramin. I spent seven years in Israeli jails when I was 17 years old. And after 2007 - the 16 of January - after I lost my 10 years old daughter Abir to an Israeli border police who shoot and kill her on that day. After that, I joined the Parents Circle.


Would you describe where each of you have been the last several days as violence has increased?

ARAMIN: I'm in Jericho, the West Bank. To watch all those atrocities, those sad news, it's very difficult. We are worried. We are very sad. And in fact, we claim that we know the result. We know what's going to happen in the end, just more blood, more pain, more victims.

DAMELIN: Well, last night I was in my home. And actually, I was talking to Bassam. He wanted to know how I was. And he heard the sirens, and he told me to go to the shelter because he could hear the sirens.

INSKEEP: Did you go?

DAMELIN: I have a shelter in my house. And yes, of course, because the rockets were nonstop for hours on end. There was one lot of rockets, which actually - I don't really know if it was the Patriot or if it was the rocket actually falling very near to my home, so - because I live in Jaffa.

INSKEEP: Oh, you mean something fell to the ground, and you don't know if it was a Palestinian missile or one of the anti-missile missiles?

DAMELIN: Yes, exactly. And last night was a horrific night. But just consider how terrible it is, also, for the Palestinians in Gaza. The mother there doesn't have a shelter to run to. And she doesn't know, if she runs away from her home, if she will be regarded as some kind of traitor. And if she stays in her home, then perhaps she will be bombed. And the mother in Sderot, which is a little village just on the border of Gaza, she has 15 seconds to get to the shelter. And I remember in the 2014 war - it's as if this was all playing over again. I remember this mother saying that she has 15 seconds and she has one child in a wheelchair, so she can't make up her mind who she should take to the shelter first. Why? For what? This cycle of madness and violence - what is it that we haven't done? How did we not educate our children to understand the humanity in the other?

INSKEEP: I believe you referred to the war in 2014 and that you were reminded of that time. Can I ask each of you if anything has changed in your view in those seven years since?

ARAMIN: Nothing. Nothing changed. As long as the occupation continue, the oppression continue. Every side - this side, the other side only understand the language of power. And if it's not works, it will work with more power - nothing in the culture even to try to go to a negotiation.

INSKEEP: Robi Damelin, do you agree with that statement that each side looks at the other and says, they will only understand the language of power?

DAMELIN: Oh, I think there's very much a mirror image between both the Palestinians might say, oh, the Israelis don't care about their children if they die. And the Israelis would say the same thing. But I would like to refer to what you were saying about the occupation, what Bassam says about the occupation, because I'm in absolute agreement with him. And actually, if you think about it, this occupation is killing the moral fiber of Israel in many ways.

ARAMIN: We are not going to give up. We will continue to work to spread our message as long as we survive, as long as we alive because this is the only way, the only tool for us to try to be safe for our kids and our families and our people.

INSKEEP: Robi Damelin and Bassam Aramin. Thank you very much to both of you.

DAMELIN: Thank you.

ARAMIN: Bless you. Thank you very much.