Israeli father Rami Elhanan's 14-year-old daughter was killed during a suicide bombing in the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Rather than seeking out revenge, Rami has chosen a path of light and hope. His life story, both painful and inspiring, is documented by "Operation Change" on OWN.
"I was drafted into the army about two months after the '67 war," Rami says in the above video. "It was unthinkable not to go. It's a great honor to serve this great country."
Rami was 21 years old when he left the army and entered university to study history and political science. When the Yom Kippur War broke out in 1973, Rami was again drafted. "I lost many friends and this was a turning point for me," he says. "The most important turning point was the decision to detach myself from any kind of involvement."
Rami went on to attend law school and says he became cynical. "I had only one thing on my mind, which is looking after my family," he says. "And the rest of the world is not important."
When Rami's daughter was killed, he says nothing was ever the same. "In the beginning you are full of anger, and you try to pretend as if nothing had happened, you try to go back to you normal life," he says. "And then you notice that nothing is the same, you're not the same person. Gradually you understand that your basic definition as a human being has changed."
Through his grieving, Rami was introduced to Yitzhak Frankenthal, who founded The Parents Circle-Families Forum. "The group is a unique combination of people who paid the highest price possible," Rami says. "People who choose the path of reconciliation instead of revenge. This is a group of people which I am very proud to be a part of."
Among the peace activists Rami met was Bassam Aramin, a Palestinian. "Once in a while, you meet people which are your soul mates, which are your twins," Rami says. "We went to their house to eat and they came to our house to eat, and you don't see such relationship between Isreali and Palestinian families."
Like Rami, Bassam lost his daughter in the conflict. On January, 16 2007, Bassam's 10 year old daughter, Abir, was shot in the back of her head by an Israeli border patrol policeman.
"It was, for me, reliving my own tragedy and it happened all over again," Rami says. "And I remember asking Bassam, 'What are we going to do now? How do we cope with such atrocity, with such horror? He said, 'We go on. We have no other choice.'"
"He's a real hero, a real leader and I am very proud that he considered me as his brother," Rami says. "He is my example. If he can do it, I can do it."
Today, Rami says he is still on a journey to find peace. "I was part of the Israeli society for better, for worse -- until I woke up," he says. "The waking up process is a very painful one because you're fighting yourself, you're fighting your upbringing, you're fighting your basic, most basic values that you have. And you're fighting your society, which is not simple."
He still carries the pain of losing his daughter, but not the anger. "The pain is an enormous power, almost like nuclear energy," Rami says. "You can use pain to bring darkness and destruction, and you can use pain to bring light and hope."
"Operation Change" airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on OWN.
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