demo against Schalit swap_311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Robi Damelin has been involved with reconciliation work between bereaved
Palestinian and Israeli families for the past decade, almost from the moment
when her son David was killed by a sniper while serving in the reserves on March
But the real test of her commitment to the idea of
reconciliation was tested on Thursday, when she heard on the news that her son’s
killer was being released as part of the prisoner swap to bring home kidnapped
soldier Gilad Schalit.
High Court decides not to intervene in Schalit swap
Gilad Schalit's release: The stage-by-stage timeline
“It is the most alone moment you can ever
experience,” she said on Monday, recalling hearing the name of the man who
killed her son announced on TV.
“That was the real test, after nine years
of working on reconciliation. Do I believe what I say?” she
In the frenzied atmosphere of the courtroom on Monday during the
appeal against the Schalit swap, raw emotions ran high as painful wounds of the
relatives of the victims of terror were ripped open.
Out of the
craziness, Damelin exuded calm and acceptance. Like many others, tears came to
her eyes frequently during the day as she remembered her son, who was in the
midst of studying for his masters in the philosophy of education when he was
JPOST VIDEOS THAT MIGHT INTEREST YOU:
On Thursday, when faced with a true test of what it means to
forgive and move on, Damelin decided to continue with her faith in
reconciliation: Support the prisoner swap, though it came at a high personal
“I believe there’s nothing more important than the sanctity of
human life, nothing more important than any petty demands that I have for making
a man stay in jail for the rest of his life,” she said.
“My life is not
contingent on the man who killed my son. He doesn’t have to say ‘I’m sorry’ for
me to move on. My part of reconciliation is not contingent on him, or
else I might be stuck for the rest of my life,” said Damelin, a South Africa
native who now lives in Tel Aviv.
Damelin is now the spokeswoman for the
organization Parents Circle, a support group for bereaved Israeli and
Palestinian families that promotes tolerance and understanding between families
who could so easily turn to hatred.
Damelin says she can understand the
victims of terror who did not support the prisoner swap.
because the pain of losing someone is so immense some people never get it back,”
After the court hearing, in an emotional exchange with Meir
Schijveschuurder, who lost both his parents and three siblings in the Sbarro
attack in 2001, she urged him to stop seeing himself as the victim and holding
on to so much hatred.
She dismissed the notion that because
Schijveschuurder had lost so many family members he could never
“Should we compare suffering?” she asked.
Ten members of
Parents Circle stood outside of the court and held signs in support of the swap
before entering for the hearing. Parents Circle also filed a motion in
support of the swap, and tried engaging with some of the terror victims at the
hearing about the difficult idea of acceptance and reconciliation.
hearing the news that her son’s killer would be released, Damelin wrote a moving
poem in which she paid tribute to her son.
After the army, after world
traveling, after studying, “I always knew you would come back,” she wrote in the
“The man who made a hole in your heart, and mine, may be
free to go, and I agreed to free him and Gilad can now come back,” she said in a
shaky voice at the end of the poem.
“We both said, nothing is more sacred
than human life, so Gilad will come back, but you are never coming back.”
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>