Peace duo on visit

Two prominent speakers in the campaign to bring peaceful dialogue to the Middle East have been touring the country this week.

Former Palestinian resistance fighter Ali Abu Awwad and Israeli Robi Damelin have been speaking on behalf of the UK Friends of the Bereaved Families Forum, a group that supports the work of the Israel-based BFF which campaigns for peaceful dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.

The pair spoke to around 200 people at a fundraising dinner in the West End about the efforts of the forum in promoting greater understanding about the conflict to both sides.

Speaking after the dinner — which raised £35,000 for the organisation — they spoke about the personal cost of the conflict which has seen Mr Awwad lose a brother and Ms Damelin a son.

Ms Damelin, who made Aliyah from South Africa in 1967, gave up her public relations business in 2003 to work for BFF, after her son David was killed by a Palestinian sniper in 2002 while on reserve duty in the West Bank.

She said: “It doesn’t matter if you are pro-Palestinian or pro-Israeli, the desire must first be to avoid conflict.”

Mr Awwad, an ex-Fatah member who was jailed In Israel for four years in the 1990s for resistance activities, said: “After I lost my brother Youssef (he was killed by an Israeli settler near Gush Katif in 2000) I was devastated but when the BFF made contact with me I realised that all the anger that one feels can also be felt by the other side.”

    Last updated: 5:51pm, May 12 2009