Dancing for the Bereaved Families

Samar Qudha is an Arab human rights lawyer who lives in Haifa. During the first week of July she will be participating in the Movement Medicine Summer's Long Dance, a 72-hour ceremony of dance, prayer and meditation at the Earth Spirit Centre in Somerset.

Participants are asked to raise money for a project or charity and Samar has decided to raise funds for the Bereaved Families Forum.

‘As a Palestinian woman, human rights lawyer living and working in Israel, in times where being allowed the air that we breathe feels like a daily struggle, deciding which organisation to raise money for was not an easy task,’ Samar says. ‘So much is needed to achieve equality, justice, freedom and peace in this aching land.’

In the end, Samar decided to dedicate her dance to the Palestinian and Israeli families who have lost their loved ones to the conflict and yet believe in ending the cycle of violence.

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Shocked reactions to Gaza violence

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The renewed outbreak of violence between Israel and Hamas has been greeted with alarm around the world, and with calls for restraint from the United Nations. For the Palestinian and Israeli members of the Bereaved Families Forum, the fighting has reawakened painful memories of their own bereavement.

On 7th July the Israeli daily paper Yedioth Aharonoth published in its weekly 24 Hours section
open letters from five bereaved mothers, all members of the Forum, to the newly bereaved Palestinian and Israeli mothers.

One Israeli mother, Tsurit Sarig, says: “This letter is written from the bottom of my heart, and from years of experience in the quagmire of bereavement, and is addressed to the bereaved mothers whose agony has joined the long list of their predecessors.

“The acts of hatred, incitement and above all the two horrible murders of the four youths, brought back great sadness as well as feelings of anger and confusion, which we first felt after my eldest son was killed. I am with you in your feelings of grief and shock.”

A Palestinian mother, Hanan Lubadeh from Nablus, whose 15-year-old son was killed in 1989, writes: “I've known Israeli bereaved mothers for many years. The mothers’ pain is similar, no matter if they are Israeli or Palestinian. It does not matter whether she is from Nablus, Shoafat, Rosh Pinah or Nof Ayalon. The pain is seared into us and will be with us forever.”

And Forum spokesperson Robi Damelin writes: “We understand that the pain of a mother losing a child is the same no matter where she comes from, what colour her skin is and to whom she prays at night. The tears falling on the pillow are the same colour. We cannot allow the violence to continue. Let us raise our voices together to stop this senseless killing. Stop the violence. Stop the horrific rhetoric. No one has the right to use our beloved children as pawns in a battle that can never be won.”