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Have Mercy for the Sake of our Children Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Hussein Macarambon, Japan Aug 12, 2003
Human Rights  
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The speakers from both parties spoke about the stories of their children who died from this war. They had different stories about their experiences of losing a loved one and this love has united them to demand an end to Israeli military attacks on Palestine and Palestinian suicide bombings against Israel. They commonly agreed upon the need for “international intervention” from the US, the UN, the European Union, and all other nations in putting an end to this bloodshed.

“I lost my eldest son on July 7th, 1997 when he was murdered by Hamas. He was a wonderful kid and I miss him so much but revenge will not bring my son back. Now what I’m doing is protecting my four other kids. There is no difference between fathers and mothers, Israeli and Palestinian, the pain is the same thing,” Frankenthal said. He admitted that it is difficult to let his fellow Israelis know about the fear and anger they share with the Palestinians but he does not want to succumb to the hurdles down the road to armistice. His organization has accomplished a “campaign” that consisted of “300 speaking engagements at schools as well as billboards calling for reconciliation in Israel and the Occupied Territories.”

With too much anger in one’s heart, it is difficult to see that revenge does not really help in bringing justice to the death of one’s own flesh and blood. “Once I used to say they are terrorists,” explained Frankenthal when asked about those who had killed his son. “I don’t believe they are terrorists. They are fighters to get them[selves] a state. We ourselves bombed markets, we have done everything that the Palestinians have done,” he added, pointing out the past terrorist acts perpetrated by Zionist armies before the state of Israel was created.

A Palestinian speaker mentioned that if “bereaved families can sit and be together, I don’t think that our leaders cannot do it.” The vicious cycle of belligerent provocation and vengeance has frustrated many people from both parties but this should remind them and their leaders that the hope for a peaceful resolution is bleak if they do not get out of this murderous cycle soon.

The trees have started to turn green as tsuyu or the rainy season is forthcoming here in Kyoto. The streets were empty at this time of the afternoon in a far-off area that seemed foreign to me. Although I have lived in Kyoto for more than three years, I have not been to this part of the city until today. Its remote location has discouraged me from visiting Kiyomizu Temple, one of the oldest temples in Kyoto.

This Buddhist temple that is also called the “Temple of Pure Water” was established in 788 AD, predating the founding of the ancient imperial city of Kyoto. Legend tells that the temple was built by a priest called Enchin from the nearby city of Nara. He had a vision that he would find a fountain of pure water where he could create a temple. On the hillside where the temple now stands, the priest came upon the hermit Gyoei who announced that he had been waiting for the priest’s arrival.

Gyoei gave the priest a log of sacred wood and told him to carve the log into an image of Juichimen Kannon, the goddess of mercy. The Bodhisattva is currently housed in an old three-storied pagoda where pregnant women pay a visit to every year as believed that the benevolence of the goddess will bring blissful existence to their children upon birth.

A very important event that took place in this metaphorically significant temple prompted me to go there. An Israeli-Palestinian Forum for Peace was held at the temple. The bereaved families that have lost their children to the conflict between Israel and Palestine organized this meeting. The undying violence and retaliation from both sides resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Palestinian and Israeli children. Almost three years have passed since the peace process was disrupted yet Israeli and Palestinian families are still paying the pernicious cost for the absence of peace.

Now these families are uniting to solicit help from their leaders and the international community in their plight to end violence and to bring the parties back to negotiation. A delegation headed by Yitzhak Frankenthal, founder of the Israeli Parents Circle (IPC) together with the bereaved families of the Palestinian National Movement for Change (PNMC) organized this Kyoto visit.

The mother of Bat-chen Shahak, a fifteen-year old girl from Israel also spoke about how her daughter was taken from her on the day of her 15th birthday. “It was painful but all I can do now is to do what my daughter would have wanted me to do. I found her diary, and in it she wrote poems about peace and life. I didn’t even know she kept a diary,” she explained. Today, the diary has been translated from Hebrew into Arabic, Dutch, English, and a few other languages. Before she left, I asked her if I could have a copy of her daughter’s diary and she gave me one. She said it would be great if I could share what the diary is about to my friends. Here is a sample of a poem about peace written by Bat-chen:

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