The Parents Circle Families Forum stems from a growing recognition that the reconciliation process is essential for future peace agreements. In order to break the cycles of terrible violence, recognition is needed; the PCFF (Parents Circle Families Foum) believes that any peace agreement must include a structured framework of reconciliation.
At the end of 2010, the Reconciliation Center was established. The Center serves to promote and deepen the work of reconciliation that the Parents Circle Families Forum does, to raise awareness and involvement of the public on issues of reconciliation on a political level, and to provide the knowledge and tools for the implementation of reconciliation for the Israeli and Palestinian communities.
The Reconciliation Center gathers all the accumulated knowledge to date in both academic research and experience from the Parents Circle Families Forum activities in the last decade (at the start of 2000). The center offers an in depth study on the issue of reconciliation and has created a space to bring people nearer to the issue and the ability to learn in depth the subject and knowledge of the other.
We are grateful to USAID for their support in this project.
The center includes journals, academic articles, books and films about reconciliation. The data is presented in two physical centers, the Israeli Center located in Ramat Efal and the Palestinian Center is located in Beit Jala. In addition, on the website there is a virtual library rich with hundreds of selected articles on the subject of reconciliation, references to selected books, films relating to topics: theories and key terms for reconciliation, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, apology and acknowledgment, Transitional Justice, narratives and history, forgiveness and reconciliation, education and reconciliation, and more. The information in the library also relates to the conflict zones around the world, including: Australia, Argentina, Bosnia Herzegovina, South Africa, Israel and Palestinians to East Timor, Indonesia, Northern Ireland, Cyprus and Rwanda.
1) Knowledge of the other through group meetings and learning about the personal and collective narrative of the other side
Mutual recognition of the personal and national narrative is an important step in reconciliation between the two peoples. The project "perspective": the Palestinian Israeli narratives project which began in 2010 promotes reconciliation through recognition and enhancing knowledge about the historical, individual and national narrative of the other side. The project's participants, Israelis and Palestinians, meet and engage in collective and personal narratives relating to the Israeli Palestinian conflict, learning about the psychological, social and political aspects of each other's historical narratives.
Eleven groups have participated in the project, out of seventeen groups who were initially planned. So far the groups involved have included students, mental health professionals, educators, artists and other groups from organizations such as "Combattants for Peace", "One Voice", ‘Wounded Crossing Borders" and more.
A continuation of the project "perspective" is ‘Where Parallel Lines Meet' which includes dialogue meetings in schools and other educational centers, learning tutorials on the subject of parallel narratives. Five groups will go through a process of recognition of parallel narratives including a group made up of bereaved women of the Parents Circle Families Forum who will participate in narrative related activities and who will hold a big event on the subject for the general public.
2) Public events.
In 2011 there were a series of four meetings about "reconciliation between the nations: dream or reality?" The meetings that were held at the YMCA in Jerusalem, dealt with reconciliation and its various aspects, presenting different perspectives on central issues in the process of reconciliation in the Israeli Palestinian conflict.
The meetings were made up of poets, journalists and academics and encouraged discussion of the different needs of the parties and the challenges involved in the process.
Topics that were discussed include: Dilemmas of reconciliation: "memory, forgetting, forgiveness," "justice and recognition in the process of reconciliation". The Lecturers who participated were: poets Agi Meshual and Nida Chori, educator and author Muhammad Ali Taha, Dr. Amal Jamal, Dr. Yotam Benziman and others.
During 2010 - 2011, there were additional meetings in the reconciliation center which included the film screening of "Women of Cyprus" produced by Vasilici Katribano and Bushra Azoz , a tour of the Nahum Gutman Museum to see the exhibition by artist Khalil Raad; a special evening with Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg; meeting with Professor Bar Tal; lecture by Dr. Alon Liel, on "The South African case the implications, challenges, and questions in the context of the Israeli Palestinian conflict ".; lecture by Ali Abu Awwad on "reconciliation through the eyes of Palestinians society" and more.
3) International Peace Day
The Parents Circle Families Forum established International Peace Day in 2006. Every year there is a seminar during the day, a visit or meeting about the process of reconciliation and how to progress in the peace agreements . From 2007 the Forum decided to arrange a special ceremony to award prizes of reconciliation for Israelis and Palestinians, individuals or organizations who have been active in working to promote peace and reconciliation between the two peoples. Recipients who were awarded a reconciliation prize include Physicians for Human Rights - Israel; Palestinians from the Civil Defense Force, firefighters who helped extinguish the Great Fire in the Carmel forest; journalist Shlomi Eldar; journalist Nasser al - bread; Ahmad Morar leaders of non violent resistance in the village of Budrus; Yehuda Shaul, Breaking the Silence and others.
The Reconciliation Center offers space for exposure, expression, expressing one's voice and the representation of personal stories that have arisen from living in a conflict zone. The Reconciliation Center website invites anyone wishing to speak out, to document his personal story in writing or on video (in Hebrew, Arabic or English) and send it to us. Appropriate stories will be translated and published on the site.
Building a reconciliation process is necessary as part of future peace agreements.
The Reconciliation process has never been an integral part of political thinking on the subject of peace in the Israeli Palestinian conflict. However from experience gained in the work of the forum, we are convinced that in the absence of a reconciliation process, the agreements signed will not establish lasting peace in the region. Our goal is to reach a large number of politicians on both sides, regardless of their political view and create support for leaders who favor the process of mutual reconciliation as a necessary part of a future peace agreement.
During 2010-2011 in this political project we conducted workshops and discussions with a selected members of the Parents Forum in order to formulate a conceptual and practical vision of reconciliation. In addition, we met with dozens of Israeli and Palestinian leaders and politicians who showed great interest in our work and some have agreed to support and be active in promoting the reconciliation process. This project was made possible thanks to the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Swiss government.