אחרי המלחמה הארורה, הגיחה יונה של זית להזכיר את הברית של השם, בין ישראלים ופלסטינים. לטור המלא.
Each time I come to Israel, there is a war going on. I start to feel guilty and people console me, saying it happens to them, too. Last week, soon after we landed at Ben Gurion airport, Hamas shot more than 700 rockets from Gaza toward Israel, while the Israeli military targeted 350 sites in the narrow strip of land. Four Israeli civilian died and 23 Palestinians were reported dead in Gaza. The loss of lives is part of the ongoing situation in Israel/Palestine.
In this never ending darkness, I decided to attend the 14th annual joint Palestinian-Israeli Memorial Day Ceremony. The ceremony uses the South African idea of reconciliation – although there is not any real peace between Israel and Palestine and no end of the occupation and siege on Gaza. The two main Human Rights groups that organised the ceremony are Combatants for Peace –former IDF soldiers and former Palestinian fighters – and The Parents Circle – Families Forum, a grassroots organisation of Palestinians and Israelis who have lost family members.
On Tuesday morning, I heard Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticise the Supreme Court for its reversal of his decision to bar 181 Palestinians from attending the ceremony. For Bibi all Palestinians are terrorists while Israeli soldiers are saints. The Supreme Court granted 176 Palestinians special entry permits for Tuesday’s event. But the damage was done. When I got close to the event a group of about 200 racist, right-wing protestors were shouting: “You are a traitors; Kapo; Hitler; You should all go back to Gaza; Death to the (Israeli) traitors; You should be ashamed of yourselves; You are all supporting terrorists; You are more traitors then the Hamas; You are not Jews”.
This year police kept order and put a guard between the protesters and those attending the ceremony. When the event began they made as much noise as they could and two were arrested after they threw things at the crowd.
More than 9000 people came to this ceremony and l there were small gatherings of this kind all over Israel. Rami Elhanan, one of the organisers of the ceremony, said: “We are commemorating the pain that is driven out of the situation of one people that is dominating another. We lost our kids because of the occupation. We are doing the best to show Israel, Palestine and the world that it is not going anywhere to kill each other.”
The actor and publicist Mika Almog and the nurse and theater artist Samira Saraya moderated the event. The symbolism was clear; the Israeli and the Palestinian stood next to each other and shared the Hebrew and the Arabic. Their opening words stated that the situation of the last Gaza war, as well as the other wars, aren’t a matter of cruel fate or conflict but a result of specific political policies.
Yuval Rachamin, an Israeli who lost his father in the Six Day War took aim at at “politicians who feed on the hatred of Arabs and foster the fear of them”.
He was followed to the podium by a Palestinian boy named Muhammad Ali Darwish He was from the now depopulated village of al-Maliha and lives in the al-Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem. He spoke about the day he lost his best friend from a random IDF bullet: “My little friend Abd al-Rahman, one single bullet ended 12 years of friendship, pretty moments and memories. I promise you that I will tell the story of your death until life returns to its human path, and in the last years I have chosen to commemorate your memory by striving in the path of peace.”
As other speakers told of their tragic experiences, the shouting of protesters grew louder. To combat them Israeli and Palestinian women began singing an anti-war version of the Passover Seder song “Chad Gadya”. The crowd clapped hands in support.
The ceremony ended and we began to leave. The racist protesters jeered and spat at us. Don’t they have a memorial ceremony to go to? This is their way of commemorating their lost ones?
With all these wars, this rare ceremony helps me against the immediate depression I feel when I return to Israel. . And I yearn to talk more about our loss as one, two people with one motherland under one sky. One day, this ceremony will be the future of Israel/Palestine because the pain is one.