On paper, Robi Damelin and Seham Abu-Awwad are women from opposing worlds. Robi, a Jewish Israeli, lost her son to a Palestinian sniper. Seham, a Palestinian, lost a brother when he was killed by an Israeli Defense Forces soldier and has a son who's now in prison. But, despite vast differences in geography, lifestyle and politics, Robi and Seham have come together to work on an end to the bloody conflict between Israel and Palestine.
These women are involved in a grassroots organization called Parents Circle-Families Forum. It brings Israelis and Palestinians together not as individuals in warring factions, but as members of families who've experienced similar losses. The group is based on the idea that there's a common humanity to both the Israeli and Palestinian familes' experience of violence.
In Chicago this week, Robi and Seham are also drawing attention to an exhibit called Cartooning in Conflict: Editorial Cartoonists Explore Palestinian-Israeli Conflict. Bringing together artists who illustrate the absurdities and contradictions of the Israeli-Palestinian standstill, "Cartooning in Conflict" will be up this weekend at Navy Pier as part of OFA Chicago 2011. Robi and Seham will both be at the exhibit from 3:30 to 5:00 pm tomorrow.
To learn more about the work of Parents Circle-Families Forum, watch this video: