Yitzhak Frankenthal

The Bereaved Families Forum (sometimes known as the Parents Circle-Families Forum) was started by Yitzhak Frankenthal (left) in 1995, a year after his 19-year-old son Arik was killed by Hamas. He declared that as a religious Jew he could not justify seeking revenge for his son’s murder. Despite his pain, he said, the only ethical response to the loss of his son was to try to prevent further deaths and suffering.

So he set about contacting other bereaved families, both Israeli and Palestinian, and persuading them that reconciliation was a better objective than revenge.

The Forum has now grown to 650 members, who have found a common purpose in sharing their stories and working to break down the barriers between their two communities.

UK support group launched

Judith Elkan, Chairman of FBFF

In 2004, Forum member Aaron Barnea, whose son Noam had been killed in the Lebanon war in 1999, spoke at a meeting in London and some of his audience were inspired to set up a support group, the Friends of the Bereaved Families Forum (FBFF).

Led by their first chairman, Judith Elkan (right), members of FBFF organised speaking tours in the UK for Israeli and Palestinian members of the Forum and arranged fund-raising events.

They also managed to generate publicity in the media, to demonstrate to the British public that there was a voice for peace and reconciliation amid the gloom and pessimism over successive Middle East wars.

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