United in Grief: An unexpected friendship

With Rami Elhanan and Bassam Aramin

25 November 2021

17:00 - 19:00 CET


Rami Elhanan – a 70-year-old Israeli graphic designer, son of an Auschwitz survivor, who as a young man served in the Israeli Army.

Bassam Aramin – a 52-year-old Palestinian academic who as a young man fought for the Palestinian cause and spent seven years in an Israeli jail.

What could bring together two men representing worlds so torn apart that even though they share the same geographical space, they rarely meet each other?

What could turn a Palestinian freedom fighter into a Holocaust scholar, a believer in non-violent resistance and a peace activist? What could make an Israeli former soldier call a Palestinian his brother?

Come and listen to the extraordinary story of Rami and Bassam, both of whom lost daughters in the continuing conflict in their country. Bassam's daughter, Abir, was 10 when she was killed; Rami's daughter, Smadar, was 14.

United in their grief, they developed a remarkable friendship and a common commitment to offering a message of healing and hope for their land, a message that resonates far and wide today.

Their story is told in Apeirogon, a novel by Colum McCann, which according to The Guardian is ‘a masterpiece, a novel that will change the world’.

‘United in Grief’ will offer participants the opportunity to listen to Rami and Bassam’s story, to engage in a Q&A session and to share their thoughts and reflections on what they have heard.  

The session will take place on Zoom on 25 November, from 17:00 to 19:00 CET and will be facilitated by Neil Oliver for Tools for Changemakers


Bassam Aramin lives in Jericho in the West Bank. At the age of 17, he was incarcerated and spent seven years in an Israeli jail. He went on to study history and holds an MA in Holocaust Studies from the University of Bradford, England. In 2005 Bassam was one of the founders of Combatants for Peace alongside Rami’s son, Elik. He became a member of the Parents Circle in 2007 after losing his 10-year-old daughter, Abir, who was killed by an Israeli border policeman in front of her school. Bassam devotes his time and energies to working for a peaceful, non-violent end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine and to Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation. Bassam was the Palestinian Co-director of the Parents Circle – Families Forum until August 2020.

Rami Elhanan is a seventh generation Jerusalemite on his mother's side. His father was an Auschwitz survivor. He identifies himself as a Jew, an Israeli and before everything else a human being. On the first day of the school year in 1997, Rami’s daughter, Smadar, was one of five people killed by two Palestinian suicide bombers. Soon after, Rami joined the Parents Circle, and speaks before Israeli, Palestinian and international audiences. Rami was the Israeli Co-director of the Parents Circle – Families Forum until August 2020.






Apeirogon, by Colum McCann, will be the topic of discussion at our Books for Changemakers session on November 16 (17:30 - 19:00 CET). To join the conversation, please register here


'United in Grief: An unexpected friendship' is a free event offered by Tools for Changemakers.

If you would like to support this event and our work, please consider making a donation (adding Tools for Changemakers in the Remarks section).  



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