Sunday, October 7, 2018

Parents Circle, aid cutoffs and an approach offensive to many of Israel’s thousands of terror-affected families - by Arnold Roth

...Ms Damelin, reacting to an announced change to US funding that will affect PCFF, tells Jeffay it’s “totally heartbreaking… undermining coexistence work as a strategy to achieve political results… It can only achieve more violence.” That’s an overblown, self-aggrandizing response. But as Frimet and I have written in several opinion columns over the years, it reflects an approach we know is offensive to many of Israel’s thousands of terror-affected families. We have been one of those since our Melbourne-born daughter Malki was murdered in the 2001 Hamas attack on a Jerusalem pizzeria.

Arnold/Frimet Roth..
This Ongoing War..
04 October '18..

We were bothered by some statements that appear in a recent report ["Fears funding freeze is going too far", Nathan Jeffay - Australian Jewish News, September 20, 2018] that looks at changes in the Trump administration's approach to US support for non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The parts that jumped out at us had to do with a group on which we have expressed ourselves at intervals over the years: Parents Circle Families Forum. They appear in the article's opening lines

Donald Trump is being accused of taking his squeeze on Palestinian funding too far, by stopping new grants to organisations that promote coexistence with Israelis. “It’s totally heartbreaking,” said Robi Damelin, an Israeli bereaved mother who runs a coexistence group with bereaved Palestinian parents. She was talking to The AJN shortly after hearing that the Trump administration is cutting its last major aid channel to Palestinians, namely $US10 million annual funding to projects like hers which bring together Israeli and Palestinian civilians...

Then a few paragraphs later:

Damelin said that America is acting dangerously by undermining coexistence work as a strategy to achieve political results. “It can only achieve more violence,” she said. Her son David was killed when a terrorist opened fire at an IDF roadblock in the West Bank in 2002, and she became involved in The Parents Circle Families Forum, a grassroots organisation of Palestinian and Israeli families who have suffered a bereavement due to the conflict. She believes that groups like hers are building connections between populations which will prove vital if there is to be a political agreement. “Can they imagine that there could be peace without contact between Israelis and Palestinians? ” she asked rhetorically. “This will cause fear of the unknown, which leads to hatred and its natural partner, violence.”

Each of us (Frimet and Arnold) has criticized PCFF's work and methods via articles and posts over a period of 15 years. We have not managed to get much of a response from them in all that time.

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