We have met with the Parent’s Circle each time we have gone to Israel for an amazing meeting,  and this time did not disappoint either.  My favorite part was how they ended–“Do not be Pro-Israel; Do Not be Pro-Palestine; Be Pro-Peace.” From student Jennifer Sosa:

Prior to going to Israel, I never quite understood how much the Israeli and Palestinian conflict actually affected all citizens, even those who are not directly involved. Consequently, due to territorial disputes, innocent people are victims of crimes from both ends. Disputes that date back hundreds of years are the cause of such victimization. For years now, religion and politics have been the predominant reasons that prevent the conflict from ceasing.

Ben and Moira [spoke to us.] Ben was an Israeli who lost his daughter, a young woman who was serving her country through the military. Upon finding out that his daughter died because of a Palestinian, nothing but hatred filled Ben and the only thing he sought was revenge. Moira, a Palestinian who was originally from The United States, lost her husband due to a misjudgment on behalf of an Israeli soldier, and through the soldier’s ability to use his authoritative power, her husband was wrongfully killed. Her husband was shot multiple times by this soldier and nothing was done to aid or save him. Moira was left angry and hurt.

Ben and Moira are active members of the Parent’s Circle, an organization that is dedicated to finding ways to promote peace amongst both groups. What I really, absolutely loved about this presentation was that these two individuals, individuals who lost loved ones and have suffered an unimaginable amount of pain, were able to set their differences aside in effort to promote an end to the ongoing conflict. These two individuals were presenting their stories selflessly in order to spread the word, through students like us, to let the world know that citizens are truly tired of the conflict. The individuals on both sides of the conflict are tired of losing family members through no fault of their own and want nothing more than to be able to live in peace. Moira recalled her time in America, specifically the ability to live peacefully without being persecuted for wearing a headscarf, and her desire to live like that in Palestine with her daughters.

Ben and Moira differed on the one or two-state solution stance; however, they were okay with it and respected each other’s perspective. Seeing their ability to respect one another made me realize that it is possible to work together and set aside differences for the greater cause of peace. This presentation truly gave me a new and accurate perspective of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

And from student Lauren Rosenbaum:

One of the most poignant statements during our meeting was made by the Moira.  She noted that the individuals who commit acts of terror and violence are not of her religion; although those individuals also claim to adhere to the Islamic faith, she does not agree with their actions.  This statement, although directly relating to religion, seems to reflect the sentiment of many individuals—both Palestinian and Israeli—that the violent acts carried out as part of the conflict are not advocated for nor supported by  all. Instead, as is often the case, one group’s actions are assumed to be those of the entire population.

The Parents Circle serves as a reminder of the loss suffered in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the lives forever changed, and the incredible relationships formed between Israelis and Palestinians.

Andrea Schneider is a professor at Marquette Law School teaching ADR, Negotiation, Ethics, International Law, International Conflict Resolution and Art Law. She is the author or co-author of numerous books and book chapters in the field of dispute resolution. She serves as the editor of ADR Prof Blog.