Sharing Sorrow. Bringing Hope.Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony - 07.05.2019
The Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Ceremony, which has been held on Israeli Memorial Day (Yom Hazikaron) for the last fourteen consecutive years, comes to remind us that War Is Not an Act of Fate – But a Choice of Man. Our Memorial Ceremony transforms the traditional narrative of victimhood into a narrative of togetherness and hope. Israelis and Palestinians together acknowledge the pain of those living on the “other side” and strive to transform the violence into a society based on peace, justice and equality. Palestinian and Israeli bereaved families speak about their personal pain along with musical and artistic performances. Follow the event on facebook
Thousands of Israelis and Palestinians participate every year in this special event led and produced by Combatants for Peace with the collaboration of the Parents Circle. We invite Americans to mark this important day with us in their communities, by acknowledging the loss of life on both sides and to say that memorializing is not enough: we must act to end the circle of violence.
With Palestinians and Israelis grieving our losses together, the Israeli-Palestinian Joint Memorial Ceremony has become a massive symbol of hope and change. What began as a small ceremony of 50 people in 2005, is now one of the largest Ceremonies held in all of Israel. In addition, over 55,000 people worldwide have observed the event in recent years. This Ceremony stands as a unique symbol of humanity and persistence.
We have a powerful message of nonviolence and mutual dignity, and some would prefer that this message be suppressed. It’s no secret that the right-wing Israeli government and its allied political groups are trying to silence organizations like ours, organizations that are taking a stand against the occupation – and a stand against hate. Combatants for Peace has become a target, and our annual joint Memorial Ceremony has been consistently attacked.
We began to feel the pressure in 2017 when, just two days before the event, the government revoked the permits for hundreds of grieving Palestinians planning to attend the ceremony. In 2018 we fought back: again the government tried to cancel our permits, but we went to the Supreme Court and we won.
In 2017, during and after the event itself violent right-wing demonstrators outside threw urine and garbage on the grieving families. In 2018 we organized meetings with the previous year’s demonstrators, and slowly, even these people began to open their hearts and transform. The municipality tried to shut down these meetings – but again, we went to the courts and we won.
In 2018 we were unable to find a venue willing to host us. One excuse after another was offered, from security concerns, to political concerns, to simply, “No!” The only option left is to hold the event outside, in Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park. This required additional security, infrastructure, and equipment – all unexpected expenditures, in addition to the high cost of the venue itself. What seemed like a burden turned into a blessing – 8,000 people attended the Ceremony last year, more than any indoor venue could hold.
This year, we anticipate 10,000 people attending our Ceremony.
We will not be silenced. Love, solidarity and courage will always overcome hatred and fear.
War is Not an Act of Fate. There is Another Way!
In order to hold Memorial Day this year, we face the formidable task of raising funds well beyond our usual resources. We cannot do it without your help, as friends and supporters joining us in our nonviolent struggle, we turn to you and ask you to give. Help ensure democratic rights, freedom and equality for all people. Help us to build a new reality, a reality based on peace for all in Israel and Palestine.
This Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day ceremony demonstrates the reality of empathy and mutual respect among peoples.
This statement, delivered by Prof. Eva Illouz at the 2013 ceremony, is not radical. It is so basically human that we cannot allow anyone to thrust it to the sidelines.
This is the basis of the importance placed upon the event, together with the efforts made to expand it and, more and more, bring it to the center of our national consciousness.