Meet Bassam Aramin - Peacemaker of the Week

I met Bassam Aramin one week before his daughter was killed by the Israel Defence Forces. We met at Tel Aviv University, where Bassam shared his story at Tel Aviv University with Combatants for Peace, an organization of Palestinians and Israelis who have chosen to fight for peace.

Bassam was seventeen when he was jailed in Israel for helping to plan an attack on soldiers. During the seven years he was jailed, he studied Hebrew, Jewish history and the Holocaust. Released from jail in 1992, he married and brought children to the world. Bassam later co-founded the Combatants for Peace organization.

Today I saw Bassam again. He has just returned from a speaking tour in the United States. Today, Israelis Palestinians and others gathered in his Palestinian hometown of Anata, to honor Abir and to dedicate a playground in her memory. This playground is a sign that peace triumphs over war. The beautiful playground is on the grounds of her school, fifty yards from where she was shot in the head by an Israeli soldier last January. The IDF recently closed its investigation without finding anyone guilty. No one has been punished for Abir's killing.

Bassam and I sat on the side this afternoon after the ceremony and Bassam answered the following questions. When did you choose the way of peace?
Bassam Aramin: It was a long process. I cannot point to a single point. It was a hopeful time after Oslo. I understood that this conflict would not end militarilly. And I decided I must speak up. What does the experience of jail do to a person?
Bassam Aramin: Jail hardens. It's natural that the jail incites, and directs one to thoughts of violence, of revenge. You must be strong to maintain your humanity. How do you choose humanity over revenge?
Bassam Aramin: This depends on the person you are and the culture you come from. Using your pain for revenge is natural. Choosing a non-violent path in these circumstances is unique. Deciding to take revenge is deciding to continue to fight a personal battle. But this conflict is not personal. I realized that this conflict was not a conflict of Israel vs. Bassam.
Can you talk about the tragedy?
Bassam Aramin: Only one who has lost a child can understand. One who has not lost a child should never know this paiin. It has influenced me because I believe in peace. I have to expand the efforts on this path. It did not occur to me to leave this path. If I leave, we lose. One finger of one hand of one soldier killed Abir. Tens and hundreds of people are working for peace in her memory. Will you speak about Abir?
Bassam Aramin: This is the hardest part. Abir was beautiful, wonderful. She was special, full of hope. She loved me, she was very close to me in particular. She was sensitive. She was independent. She lovved to draw, to dance, she loved to travel. She was intelligent and had self-confidence. You have five more children. How do you continue raising them?
Bassam Aramin: Life has changed. I am trying to assure that this will not be experienced by Abir's siblings. Our pain will never end. I want to keep this pain far frommy children. It is difficult!

I have a four year old daughter. She remembers Abir. Recently I found her crying in her room, holding a picture of Abir. She was mad Abir had left her and announced that when Abir came back, she herself would leave. I am very concerned for Hiba. She is so similar to Abir, same look, movements, she too is very bright. What does the name Hiba mean?
Bassam Aramin: Hiba means "Gift of God".

Today, when I completed the questions you see above, Bassam reminded me that after he spoke at Tel Aviv University, I raised my hand and asked: "What can we do?" He wondered later if he had impact that day but knew that we would be in touch.

Bassam, thank you for your courage and inspiration. You helped inspire this community of peacemakers on

Learn more about Bassam on his page, through this opinion article he wrote exactly one year ago, and in Gideon Levy's article.

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Comment by Tinkie on August 23, 2008 at 12:20pm
All these mothers & fathers losing their children. It is so sad... I admire you very very much for choosing the peace path, despite the fact that you suffered so much. I hope more and more will be inspired by you.
Comment by Ilan Brodsky on August 10, 2008 at 10:47pm
Dear Bassam,
A death of a child has no excuse and shouldn't... I'm so sorry for your and your family lose and misfortune.

I admire you for the change of course you took in your life towards peace, and I hope you never abandon it.

All best to you and your family,
Comment by Alveradis on March 17, 2008 at 6:30pm
Such reports move and always affect me on the new. And in a way, which often the correct words are missing to me, over to express which I feel. God benediction you all
Comment by joyce Reis on March 11, 2008 at 6:20pm
I was fortunate to hear Bassam speak to just our group
sponsored trip with AFSC/IFPB in November of '07. His story is even more moving when one has the privilege of hearing his story in person. He is truly living for peace by his words and his example. Joy
Comment by Earl Prignitz on February 22, 2008 at 5:27pm
Hi Bassam: I honor your stance for peace even after suffering such a loss. I have 3 daughters and I can't imagine how I would respond from such a tragedy. I pray you and your family may continue to live in peace.
Comment by Eyal Raviv on February 13, 2008 at 3:37pm
Thank you Donna and Paul for commenting. Bassam truly has power of belief in peace. I met his wife this week as well, and she, too, has strong faith.
Comment by Paul RETI on February 11, 2008 at 7:26am
It is an honor and inspiration to learn about people like Bassam.


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