Following the Walk for Healing and Peace in December 2001 which brought together future members of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, among the first to reach out to our group via a temporary email address was Yitzhak Frankenthal. An Israeli businessman and Orthodox Jew, Frankenthal lost his 19 year-old son Arik when he was kidnapped and murdered by Hamas activists in July 1994. His response was to break the cycle of violence that had led to the deaths of so many on both sides of the ongoing conflict. He established The Parents Circle – Families Forum in 1995 as a way of bridging the gap between the groups with the belief that “if we, who have lost our dear ones, do not seek revenge and hatred but reconciliation – so can anyone.” In our small group of 9/11 family members seeking reconciliation rather than revenge, Frankenthal saw a kindred spirit. He is now chairman of the Arik Institute, which pursues tolerance, reconciliation and peace.
Today, the Parents Circle – Families Forum includes hundreds of bereaved families, half Palestinian and half Israeli, all of whom have all lost immediate family members to the violence in the region. The group’s mission statement:
• To prevent further bereavement, in the absence of peace
• To influence the public and the policy makers – to prefer the way of peace over the way of war
• To educate for peace and reconciliation
• To promote the cessation of acts of hostility and the achievement of a political agreement
• To prevent the usage of bereavement as a means of expanding enmity between our peoples
• To uphold mutual support between our members
Parents Circle – Families Forum members meet regularly and organize activities which have been inspirational to the work of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows. Their face-to-face reconciliation programs include dialogue meetings for youth and adults, youth leadership seminars, and an internet reconciliation program. It offers member seminars and workshops, professional training for activists, lecturers and spokespeople, and children and youth meetings and summer camps.
The group’s “Hello Shalom/Salaam” program is a free phone chat system that connects Israelis and Palestinians. Other programs include the “Good Intentions” TV drama series, an “Offering Reconciliation” art exhibition, and a weekly radio program on “All for Peace” radio.
The Parents Circle – Families Forum: http://www.theparentscircle.com/
The Arik Institute: http://www.arikpeace.org/Eng/