"Line of Hope Links Palestinians and Israelis," a Commentary by Jeremy Grange

August 17, 2007

Author: Jeremy Grange

Source: BBC News


A special phone service linking Israelis and Palestinians, called Hello Peace, has facilitated nearly a million telephone conversations since it began operating in November 2000.

As we sit talking in his office in a Jerusalem apartment block, graphic designer Rami Elhanan pauses for a moment, deep in thought, recalling the day his life changed forever.

On 4 September 1997, just after three o'clock in the afternoon, a suicide bomber detonated a device in the busy Ben Yehuda Street in central Jerusalem.

Among those killed by the explosion was Rami's 14-year-old daughter, Smadar, who was in town with two friends to buy textbooks for the new school term.

"You never think that the finger is going to point at you," Rami shrugs, remembering the moment his worst fears were realised.

Many parents in the same circumstances would have retreated into the entrenched positions of hatred and the desire for revenge which have characterised Israeli-Palestinian relations for decades.

But Rami is different. About a year after the tragedy he joined the Parents' Circle, a 500-strong organisation which brings together bereaved families from both sides to create dialogue, understanding, even friendships between Palestinians and Israelis.