They work, hope for peace in Israel and Palestine

By Joyce Duriga | Editor
Sunday, December 4, 2011

Palestinian Ali Abu Awwad calls Israeli Avraham Shomroni his brother, but in reality they are from different families on opposite sides of a long and violent conflict between their governments. However, they are compatriots in striving for peace in their neighboring lands.

Shomroni visited the archdiocese’s Cardinal Meyer Center, 3525 S. Lake Park Ave., on Nov. 4 as part of Catholic Relief Services’ Voices for Peace in the Holy Land speaker tour. Abu Awwad delivered his message by DVD because he was unable to get a visa to travel outside of Israel.

CRS is the official international relief agency of the U.S. bishops. It partners with the Parents Circle Families Forum started in 1995 as a way for Israeli Palestinian families that lost a loved one to the conflict to find peace.

Both Shomroni and Abu Awwad are members of the forum. Shomroni’s son died in the Israeli Air Force and Abu Awwad’s brother was killed by Israeli soldiers.

The group regularly holds gatherings with young Israeli and Palestinian students introducing them to people from the other side of the conflict. For many students, it is the first time they have met a person from the “other side,” Shomroni said.

A few times a year, members of the group gather together. They come from different points of view so often the discussions become heated.

“After every heated discussion we come out even more convinced we have to work together to end the bloodshed,” said Avraham Shomroni.

Working for peace in the Holy Land is not unique to the forum.

“We have a lot of peace groups, it’s just peace we are short of,” Shomroni said.

He said his family doesn’t agree with his views of working for peace between the two sides but it is an issue he has long worked for.

Shomroni’s parents died in the Dachau concentration camp. He and his siblings were spared when his mother put them on a train to safety before she was sent to the camp.

Like other Israelis and Palestinians, Shomroni believes he won’t see a solution in his lifetime but he continues to hope.

“I can only guarantee the struggle. I can’t guarantee the outcome,” he said in an interview after CRS’ presentation.

“Nothing good is automatic,” Shomroni said. “In an hour of grace perhaps you can get it.”