Bassam Aramin is a Palestinian peace activist and president of the Al Quds Association for Democracy and Dialogue.  He was a former Fatah militant imprisoned for seven years for an attack on an Israeli Army jeep. His 10-year-old daughter, Abir, was killed on January 16, 2007 by an Israeli soldier on her way home from school. However, Aramin did not want revenge; all he asked for was justice. In an interview, Aramin narrated an encounter with the killer of his daughter, he said “When I met him in the court I said to him, you know, you are the victim, not me and I wish you a long life. I hope your conscience will wake up, and you need to know that you are not a hero.” Aramin further said “I called him victim, he was a teenager and he had no idea why he killed my daughter. And my daughter had no idea why she was shot.” Aramin forgave the killer of his daughter and maintained that “Forgiveness is in the first place for yourself and for your own healing. It’s a way of life. It is a way to clean your heart and make peace with yourself. It is refusing to be a victim”.
Aramin is an exemplar of a forgiving prisoner; his transformation was borne out of his life experiences from his youth. He got involved in the Palestinian struggle as a boy in the ancient city of Hebron, and he later joined the Fatah Freedom fighters.  He noted that at the age of 12, he was involved in a demonstration in which a boy was shot by an Israeli soldier; he watched as the boy died in front of him. After that experience, he developed hatred and campaigned for revenge against the Israelis. This was his motivation for joining the Fatah freedom fighters, referred to as a terrorist group. The modes of attack by Aramin’s group were throwing stones, empty bottles and hand grenades at Israeli jeeps. However, in 1985, he was arrested and sentenced to seven years of imprisonment at the young age of 17. Aramin noted that while they were in prison, they were stripped naked and beaten until they could hardly work. He further said, “What struck me was that all the soldiers wore smiles on their face. They were beating us without hatred, because for them this was just a training exercise and they saw us as objects”. 
Aramin added that while the beating was going on “I remembered a movie I’d seen a year before about the Holocaust. I found myself crying and feeling angry that the Jews who were being herded into gas chambers without fighting back. I tried to hide my tears from the other prisoners: they wouldn’t have understood why I was crying about the pain of my oppressors. It was the first time I felt empathy.” Aramin was released from prison after 7 years through the “Oslo Agreement”.  He said, “When I was released in 1992 an atmosphere of hope had already become evident. I got married and my children were born. I always dream about a better life for my children. I want to protect them and explain everything to them, so that they don’t grow up like me, not knowing anything about peace”.
Tragically, in January 2007, Israeli soldiers shot and killed Abir Aramin, the 10-year-old daughter of Aramin.  It was a very sad moment for Aramin’s family, but Aramin maintained that he was not going to exploit the blood of his child for political purposes. This was a human outcry. He said, “I’m not going to lose my common sense, my direction, only because I’ve lost my heart, my child. I will continue to fight in order to protect her siblings and her classmates, her girlfriends, both Palestinians and Israelis. They are all our children.”  Aramin co-founded the Combatants for Peace movement with Elik Elhanan, an Israeli. Both men had played active roles in the cycle of violence between Palestinians and Israelis, but decided to put down their arms and work together to promote a peaceful solution through dialogue and non-violent action. “ Elik Elhanan also lost his 14-year-old sister, Smadar Elhanan; she was killed in a suicide bombing in Jerusalem in September 1997. Aramin, Elik and Elik’s father, Rami Elhanan are also associated with Bereaved Families’ Circle, an association of families of Palestinians killed in Israeli military operations with those of Israeli victims of Palestinian militant attacks, including suicide bombings.  The losses suffered by the Aramins and the Elhanans strengthen their motivation to continue to work for the non-violent settlement of the conflict between Isrealis and Palestinians. Combatants for Peace received the Search for Common Grounds (SfCG) award in 2007 and the Courage of Conscience Award from the Peace Abbey in 2009.  Bassam Aramin is indeed an exemplar of a forgiving prisoner.
[1[ “Justice Eludes Activist, Father of Palestinian Child Killed by IDF | +972 Magazine,” accessed December 21, 2013, http://972mag.com/justice-eludes-palestinian-peace-activist-father-of-girl-killed-by-idf/24984/.
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 “Bassam Aramin (Palestine) – Forgiveness Project,” accessed December 21, 2013, http://theforgivenessproject.com/stories/bassam-aramin-palestine/.
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 “Bassam Aramin Mourns: ‘I’ve Lost My Heart, My Child’ Tikun-Olam Tikun Olam-תיקון עולם,” accessed December 21, 2013, http://www.richardsilverstein.com/2007/01/27/bassam-aramin-mourns-ive-lost-my-heart-my-child/.
 “‘Why Are Men so Angry That They Kill Children to Get What They Want?’ | Life and Style | The Guardian,” accessed December 20, 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/aug/03/men-kill-children-middle-east-israel-palestine .
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Mr. Aramin, I hope I’m reaching you. I am with a news show in NY anchored by Yasmin Vossoughian. She would like to interview you this Sunday, May 16, in the 3pm ET hour. We’d like you to discuss https://www.theforgivenessproject.com/stories/bassam-aramin/
We can do this by Skype/Zoom/Facetime. The interview would be one on one and approx. 5 mins.
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Thank you so much and I look forward to hearing from you.
“Aramin was released from prison after 7 years through the ‘Oslo Agreement'” – well, in the paragraph above you state he was sentenced to 7 years – so maybe he was released in due course, even if the Oslo treaty had not been in force by then. What strikes me when I read about these people who often risk their lives and well-being to stand up for peace, that the Nobel Peace Prize year after year after year goes to people and organizations who could arguably be called warmongers. There is hardly any reports in the Western media about these grass-roots activists and movements. Without their voices being heard there will be little chance of progress in the Middle East.
Michael Mc – Ray: I chose that title – Letters from ‘Apartheid Street’ ‘ primarily since it described quite literally the content of the book.
But I digress, the main point of this post ended up being to note that Carter gets grilled for the book in regards to a very real subject and our president
and vice-president still get coddled through the media. This would put them inside a prime position in the Mediterranean because they would control
the routes between west and east, and so they can control the passage of goods.
Aramin’s story highlights an important part of peaceful dialogue: empathy. Through watching a movie about the Holocaust, Aramin gained a greater understanding of Jewish history and also empathy for them as a people. Aramin also expressed that he saw the empathy of his jailers while in prison. In an interview, Aramin said that one of his jailers, whom he had talked to on occasion, protected him when other guards started beating him. He saw that this particular jailer had gained an empathy for him; the jailer could not stand by and watch Aramin be beaten. Empathy is a necessary part of reconciliation and dialogue and it has to be acquired on both sides. Aramin’s experiences highlight that empathy can be found in both sides, even in the most bitter of conflicts.
The story of both Bassam, and his friend Rami who is his partner in the campaign for peace in Israel and Palestine, is extremely touching. Both of them, having grown up in that region, have been brought up to believe a certain set of rules and norms, however, they were able to break away from that. They both experiences heartbreaking losses, but instead of choosing violence or revenge as most have, they chose to understand the other side, and they chose to let go of the past in order to make a better future for their families and country. When Bassam first met Rami, he said that it was an awkward exchange, because he did not know what to say to a man who had lost someone so close to him because of the conflict. But when Bassem lost his child, Rami came to the hospital to support him and that was what led them to create this bond with one another.
In an interview, Rami said that “The bottom line is that this conflict is not worth the life of one more child … The only way forward is to talk to one another, to understand one another’s point of view – and to make concessions,” and that is what both men truly believe and support. (http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/aug/03/men-kill-children-middle-east-israel-palestine)
Bassam Aramin is a great example of forgiveness. He is one of the million who sufferend in this long war. With all the death and pain he went through he didnt resort to revenge but believed in peacefull ways to end the hostilities. One day during his imprisonment, he started of a dialogue with once of the guards that ended in a friendship. Through their comversation they discoveredplaestinians many similarities and some months later the guard said he understood now that the were not the occupants of their land. He even became a supporter of the Palestinian struggle. From then on he always treated Aramin and other prisoners with respect, and once even smuggled in two big bottles of Coca Cola, which Aramin shared with all the other prisoners. Seeing how this transformation happened through dialogue and without force made Aramin realise that the only way to peace was through non-violence. This dialogue enabled us both to see each other’s purity of heart and good intent.