Robi Damelin is the mother of David, an Israeli soldier who was shot by a Palestinian sniper. Together with other Israeli and Palestinian parents who lived a similar experience because of the war between the two nations, she joined the Parents Circle - Families Forum (PCFF). Robi and Laila Alshiekh, another member of the PCFF, propose to exhibit the photo project “The Presence of the Void” made by ten Palestinian and Israeli bereaved women seeking to photograph the presence of their lost loved ones, and to give voice to the absence. This project was also exposed at the Willy Brandt House in Berlin.
Robi is also the protagonist featured in the International Prize winning documentary "One day after peace", directed by Erez Laufer with his sister Miri Laufer. In the film Robi travels to South Africa, the country where she was born, wondering if the means used to resolve the conflict in South Africa, particularly with the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, can be applied to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. This thought-provoking journey originated from Robi's personal story of suffering, due to the death of her son David. Robi attempted to initiate a dialogue with the Palestinian sniper who killed David, but these proposals were rejected.
The virtual photo exhibition is still available below. The film was available only during REstART. On 4 December 2020, the talk with Robi, Laila and Miri was moderated by Claudia Mazzucato, one of the restorative facilitators of the "group of the encounter", that brings together ex-combatants and victims of the Italian years of lead. Scroll down to watch the recording.
"It doesn't really matter what it happens during this meeting, what matters is that I am in integrity with the message that I bring".
The Parents Circle - Families Forum (PCFF) was created in 1995 by Mr. Yitzhak Frankenthal and a few Israeli families. The first meeting between bereaved Palestinians from Gaza and Israeli families took place in 1998. Today Robi is the Israeli spokesperson and the Foreign Relations Director of the PCFF, a group of 600 Israeli and Palestinian families who have lost close family members to the conflict and who work together for reconciliation and a just resolution to the conflict.
Robi Damelin was born in South-Africa during the apartheid. Since the death of her son David (2002), she became active in the Parents Circle - Families Forum (PCFF). Robi has spoken to hundreds and thousands of Israelis and Palestinians and people all over the world to demand that reconciliation be a part of any peace agreement. She also runs the women’s group of the PCFF and was named as a 2015 Woman of Impact by Women in the World. In 2014, Robi was selected by the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice as one of four Women PeaceMakers.
Laila Alshiekh is from Bethlehem and works there as an accountant. She is the mother of five children and has joined the PCFF two years ago. In 2002 her 6 months old son Qussay was very sick and soldiers prevented them from taking him to the hospital for more than five hours. His small body didn’t hold it, therefore he died. Layla had never thought of revenge, all she tried to do during the last 16 years was to protect her children from being a part of this painful conflict.