A letter to my daughter who was killed

Smadar Elhanan was killed in 1997, she was 14 years old.

Ahalan, my sweet Smadari,

So many years have passed since that horrible day, where you suddenly disappeared from our lives forever, and yet to this day, whenever I open my phone and see your sweet face, my heart stops short and my blood freezes.

You exist within me. All the time. 59 seconds every minute, every day and every night, every moment. All over again and again. I feel your presence.

Time can never heal this wound. The unbearable ease with which life goes on, is an unsolvable riddle.

Always I long for you, your mischievous smile, your messy room and your friends. Your friends which are all grown up by now… with their own children, only you will forever remain a young girl.

Never harmed a single soul.

Smadar’s bedroom in Jerusalem.

Since you left, my life has changed completely. I am a totally different person.

Every morning I fly off on my black motorbike to Beit Jallah to meet my Palestinian brother, Bassam. He also lost his beloved ten-year-old daughter, Abir.

Since we met, we have grown to be more than brothers. Both of us run from one place to another, and around the world to convince both Jews and Arabs, and the rest of the world, that it was not our destiny to lose our beloved daughters!

That the cycle of bloodshed can be stopped, and that there is no other way but through dialogue and reconciliation.

Would you believe that your… father would one day become a political activist…? Would you have believed that your father, the extreme individualist, would together with Bassam become the Directors of the Parents Circle – Families Forum? A bereaved Palestinian-Israeli organization?

These activities give us a reason to get out of bed each morning, pushing us to seek some meaning for you and your friends’ senseless death and Abir’s senseless death and all the  many other innocent children from both sides.

I have a sense that you are standing behind me, looking over my shoulder and whispering: “Yes, daddy, continue for me. This is the path, there is no other…”




Blog written by Rami Elhanan and first published by The Parents Circle (2020). Further entries from the collection “Letters of Hope” can be found here.


The opinions and views in this blog do not necessarily represent the views of Voice of Salam.

Voice of Salam is a non-partisan, non-political organisation and as such does not hold an official position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Voice of Salam would like to see a future free from violence in which Israelis and Palestinians can both live in freedom, peace and security.

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