The Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day reminds everyone that war is not a predetermined fate, but only a human choice
The joint ceremony seeks to sow the seeds of hope among the two sides, and to bring to an end wars that have taken the lives of our cherished loved ones
The Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day reminds everyone that war is not a predetermined fate, but only a human choice. The ceremony takes place every year on the eve of Memorial Day for Israeli fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism. The ceremony was initiated by Buma Inbar, whose son was killed in Lebanon in 1995, and other peace activists, together with the Combatants For Peace movement. For some years the PCFF has joined in organising and producing the event, and it is now a full collaboration between the PCFF and the CFP movement.
Since the first ceremony, in 2006, the number of people who attend has gradually grown, and today counts thousands of people, bereaved Israeli and Palestinian family members. The choice to hold the event on the same day as Israel’s Memorial Day, aims to relay a message to both sides, calling them to recognize the joint pain and hope, and to try and prevent the next victims from this fate.
Throughout the years, participating guests included leading intellectuals, among them musician Yoni Rechter, Israel Prize winner Professor Yehuda (Judd) Ne’eman, singers Alon Oleartchik, Achinoam Nini and Mira Awad, Professor Eva Illouz, journalist Eliezer Yaari, Dr. Amal Abu Said, the author David Grossman and others. The event has a growing media exposure. In recent years, we have had to deal with demonstrations and attempts of right-wing politicians and people to quash the event.
In 2017, a record number of 4,000 people filled the Tel Aviv hall, while hundreds more were left outside the venue. More than 600 people took part in a parallel event in Beit Jala, Palestine. Additional events were held in Kiryat Tivon and around the world: Berlin, Switzerland, USA, UK and more.
The event in 2017 received a lot of media attention, because the permits of the Palestinians to enter Israel were refused the Minister of Defense, Avigdor Liberman, on the days that preceded the ceremony, and after there were vigorous right-winged protests, led by Yoav Eliassi (“The Shadow”), Itamar Ben-Gvir, Michael Ben-Ari and others.
The 13th Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day ceremony was held, outdoors for the first time, at Ganei Yehoshua (The Yarkon Park) on 17 April 2018. The ceremony, observed the theme “Remembering our Future Together”. It was attended by 7,000 Israelis and Palestinians, who sought to remember and connect together, in pain and hope.
Among this year’s speakers, we were privileged to listen to words, spoken in great pain, from Dr. Amal Abu Said, widow of Yaqoub Abu al-Qiyan, as well as heart breaking words from Israel Prize laureate, author David Grossman. He announced from the podium that he intends to donate part his prize award to the PCFF. Other speakers included Forum members Maha Salah, Adi Chernobroda Cahlon, Jihad Zghayar and Yuval Roth.
This year, more than ever before, we faced many obstacles in the production of this event. Following violent activities outside the ceremony hall last year, we struggled to find a place which would agree to host us. Fortunately, with the help of friends and supporters of the event, we were able to obtain permission to hold the event at Ganei Yehoshua in Tel Aviv.
Moving the ceremony outdoors contributed greatly to the atmosphere and to our ability to accommodate the crowds of pepole who attended the event. However, this demanded greater financial resources than in the past. In order to cover the costs of the event we embarked on a crowdfunding campaign whose outcome exceeded all our expectations. We were so moved by people’s willingness to contribute financially in order to make this event happen.
Unfortunately, this year too, there were many obstacles created by people who wished to sabotage the event. Our application to the Ministry of Defense to allow Palestinian Forum members to enter Israel in order to take part in this event with us was denied by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on the grounds that it exhibits “bad taste”. Our attorney Gaby Lasky challenged the Defense Minister’s decision in the Supreme Court. Following the hearing on the morning of the day of the event, we won our petition and the court instructed the Ministry of Defense to approve our application.
In addition, many activists from the right, headed by Yoav Elias (“the shadow”) and Itamar Ben Gvir gathered this year, as well, outside the venue try and sabotage the event. Police forces oversaw a separation between demonstrators and event-participants, and we were able to complete the evening without them disturbing us.
Thus we were able to hold the event together, Israelis and Palestinians, united and stronger than ever.
The four PCFF members who spoke at the 2017 Memorial Ceremony: