L.A. Salon

Israeli mother whose son was killed by Palestinian sniper chooses compassion

“I looked into the eyes of the Palestinian mothers and I saw that we shared the same pain,” says Robi Damelin

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The day that her son was killed by a Palestinian sniper, Robi Damelin woke up early and cleaned her house from top to bottom. “That was unusual for me,” she said at Wednesday night’s Women in the World summit in Los Angeles. “I had a premonition.”

That premonition—that something terrible was about to happen—proved correct. Later that day, Damelin was visited by Israeli soldiers. They told her that her 24-year-old son David, who was serving in the Israeli Army Reserve, had been shot. “It’s a pain that nobody can describe,” said Damelin. “I’m a fixer, [but] you can’t fix this.”

But instead of seeking vengeance, Damelin found herself turning to compassion. After joining the Parents Circle—Families Forum, an organization devoted to Palestinian and Israeli parents who have lost children in the war, Damelin recognized that her loss united her with those on the other side of the Middle East conflict.

“I looked into the eyes of the Palestinian mothers,” she said, “and I saw that we shared the same pain.”

At Wednesday’s summit, Damelin—interviewed onstage by CNN national correspondent Sara Sidner—spoke about the vital need to include women’s voices in conversations about war. “Who are the victims of war?” she said. “Women. Women and children. No one asks us, should we go to war? Should we have a ceasefire? Should we make peace? We have to stop the killing.”

Leading up to the panel, Damelin said in a separate interview that it’s time for the world to see past the bitter divide of the Israel-Palestine conflict. “We don’t want you to be pro-Palestinian or pro-Israeli,” she said. “We want you to be pro-solution.”

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