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Cartooning in Conflict
Chicago Nov. 4-6


The price of reconciliation

Robi Damelin

Since when does the loss of a child to the conflict make anyone an expert on military maneuvers, or signify expertise on terrorism and its causes?

 How long must the Shalit family beg for the life of their son, How many hours should they spend in pursuit of Members of Parliament who can not commit to saving a fellow human being. How many people should march to Jerusalem and how many concerts will we hold till they understand. Would these politicians be so determined and hard nosed and pontificate about  the security of Israel if the life of their child was at stake?

How many more broadcasts of bereaved families showering their pearls of wisdom on the security of Israel and its dire future if we release the prisoners.  Somewhere deep down in their commitment to the safe future of the citizens of Israel, is there not an element of a really natural trait of human nature, revenge.  It would be so much more honest if this element of revenge were expressed and not couched in expertise and ultraistic terms of security.  Since when does the loss of a child  to the conflict make anyone an expert on military manoeuvres or create an expertese on terrorism.
Learning from history, does not fit the local agenda, it would seem that we have the answers to everything.We know for sure that the prisoners having been freed will at once done their armour and rush of to murder the nearest innocent. We have not learned that some of the most dedicated workers for peace in Ireland sprang from the ranks of the Catholic and Protestant prisoners whose hands were covered with a thick layer of blood.  These political prisoners were released with the "Good Friday Agreement" and the world did not come to an end, on the contrary Ireland has been on a path of solution ever since.  It is not the complete answer , but releasing the prisoners was a step in the right direction.  "Healing of memories" is but one of the courses offered by an ex. prisoner who spent 13 years in jail for murdering a catholic.  With or without Gilad Shalit, to push the peace process forward the powers that be will have to negotiate the release of these prisoners.
Thinking about the children , wives and grandchildren of the Palestinian prisoners, could certainly lead to the conclusion that they would take revenge and join the cycle of violence in the name of their family member in Israeli jails, Perhaps this should be taken into account , instead of the rhetoric of doom sprouting from the mouths  of so many of our leaders and members of the public.  If we can not create some hope in the hearts of these families for a future release of the prisoners , are we sure that they would sit back and do nothing.
Almost all the Palestinian male members of the Parents Circle -Families Forum have spent years in jail, and yet they have taken a stand and wish for reconciliation, although they are all bereaved.  So perhaps the members of the public and organizations opposed to the release,should search their hearts and souls to see if that revenge element is not part of the equation .  The man who killed my son is apparently on the list to be released, and I can only say that if this would return Gilad to his family and ease all of this pain, then nothing would be more worthwhile.  Just as an aside , it is clear that there is no revenge for a lost child.
In the final analysis, peace doesn't only mean agreeing about who gets to control what piece of land ,or how many deserve the right of return, it also means that those who have suffered most - the families of the dead - will not see the killers of their loved ones brought to justice.  The price of reconciliation is  high, but we owe itg to the future of the children who are our responsibility.
Robi Damelin

This article was also published on Haaretz.com




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