Israeli, Palestinian Bereaved Families Slam White House for Using Their Picture After Aid Cut

The Trump administration used an image showing members of Parents Circle Families Forum,who charge they are being used to push a 'false and deceptive' peace plan

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A member of the The Parents Circle Families Forum organization featured in a picture posted by the White House to explain the economic part of the peace plan.
A member of the The Parents Circle Families Forum organization featured in a picture posted by the White House to explain the economic part of the peace plan.Credit: Screengrab / White House website

Activists from an organization for bereaved Palestinian and Israeli families expressed ire at the White House's use of their picture for the economic component of the Trump administration peace plan, which the White House published on its website on Saturday.

The activists of The Parents Circle Families Forum were particularly upset by the usage of their image, which comes after Washington had decided to cut USAID support for their group.

Haaretz Weekly Episode 32Credit: Haaretz

Members of the group appear at least twice in materials spread by the U.S. administration in order to promote the "Peace for Proseprity" plan.

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"Imagine the feelings of disappointment and despair when the U.S. administration decided to cut all funding for cros- border peace and reconciliation activities," Parents Circle spokeswoman Robi Damelin, who lost her son Lt. David Damelin in the second intifada, told Haaretz Sunday.

"This message, given with little warning or time to plan, left us with a hole in our budget of 30 percent," Damelin said. "Yet, we continue our work because nothing will stop us. Nothing. Now comes the most cynical and cruel abuse of these two people and their organization. Mr. Kushner is using them as a pawn by displaying their pictures to illustrate and unveil his ‘Economy First’ plan for Mideast peace. He did not ask their permission, which would not have been granted. We as an organization have nothing to do with this plan and resent the use of our pictures.”

The Israeli co-director of Parents Circle, Rami Elhanan, condemned the use of the pictures in a Facebook post on Sunday. "There are no limits! First, they deny USAID assistance to bring the Palestinians to their knees and then are not ashamed to use the picture of this aid itself in order to promote a false and deceptive 'peace' plan. Shame and disgrace!"

Quoting from the bibical book of Kings, Elhanan added: "Thus saith the Lord, hast thou killed, and also taken possession?”

The Parents Circle - Families Forum is made up of Israelis and Palestinians who lost family members to the ongoing conflict, and works toward reconciliation. It runs dialogue meetings and holds events intended to further coexistence efforts. The group co-sponsors an alternative Memorial Day ceremony to commemorate both Israeli and Palestinian casualties, an event protested and derided by the Israeli right, who accuse the event of mourning terrorists.

In 2018, the Trump administration cut $10 million of foreign aid that was earmarked for supporting coexistence groups in Israel and the West Bank, a move that greatly affected the organization.

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