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Cartooning in Conflict
Chicago Nov. 4-6


No winners, just broken hearts

Robi Damelin

Listening to the rhetoric of this war reminds me of a sports tournament. We beat them by however many points, or they beat us by however many points. But it is not points we are talking about and there is no trophy. The points are human beings with families and loved ones fleeing their daily lives, sometimes succeeding and sometimes not.

  Whose side shall we take in the tournament? After all, we feel very good about ourselves when we have a side to back. Will we pick the green in Lebanon - they are the underdogs - or shall we pick the blue in Israel? We would perhaps feel better about the blue if they lost more men. Is this how the world looks at a conflict, as a glorified tournament?

In this tournament we must of course have a winning side, otherwise how can we ever sit down and talk to each other? So the green and the blue will go on claiming victory until the very last man, or until they realize that no one wins. And then what? Shall we all leave the battle to lick our wounds? Shall we go back to life? For some, a life after that will never be the same. What about all the loved ones we will never see again? For what did they give up their lives? A further status quo? A life of uncertainty, a roulette of survival. My heart aches for every picture of the victims I see in the paper. I understand what is waiting for the mother and father and all the family and friends. I know the longing, the pain and the eyes constantly brimming with tears, anguish and hurt.

There is no winner, only a greater collection of broken hearts. 
Mothers of Israel, Lebanon and Palestine: How many more graves until we shout stop? How much collective mourning until we shout stop? Let us look into each other's eyes and recognize each other's pain with empathy; let us see the human being behind the green and the blue. Let us force all to come to the table and not to a grave to talk. How many more of our children need to die before we realize there is no revenge for a lost child? We cannot let them take our children away without a word. Where is our voice in all this madness?

Mothers of Israel, Lebanon and Palestine, we must join together in a sense of understanding, and scream stop the killing, stop the killing. For so many years we have repeated the tournament of violence, it is time to look for another way, not the narrative of winning but rather a way of dialogue toward reconciliation, a way to see the human being behind the stigma - in other words, a way to recognize our joint pain.

To those in Lebanon who have lost loved ones in the conflict, we invite you to be in touch with our Palestinian and Israeli members at the Parents Circle Families Forum. We invite you to work with us in a dialogue with a long-term goal of reconciliation. We who have paid the highest price understand the consequences of a never-ending rhetoric of winning. We invite you to look at a future of some hope for the children of our area. A future free of violence, a future free of fear.

Can we not appeal to the world and say: Stop taking sides in the tournament. You are not helping, the Israelis will not disappear in a puff of smoke, nor will the Palestinians and indeed not the Lebanese. You are not helping anyone. Perhaps it is time for you all to support a dialogue toward a long-term process of reconciliation. Let us give up the green and blue and create a joint neutral color.

Robi Damelin is the mother of David Damelin, who was killed in March 2002, and a member of Parents Circle - Families Forum. Bereaved Israeli and Palestinian Families supporting Peace, Reconciliation and Tolerance.

'Haaretz' - English edition


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