Participants of the joint Israeli- Palestinian Memorial Day ceremony in Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: HAI ASHKENAZI)
Some 3,000 Israelis and Arabs, including hundreds from the West Bank, participated in the Israeli-Palestinian Remembrance Day ceremony – held for the 11th consecutive year – at the Shlomo Group Arena in the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds.
The ceremony on Tuesday was organized by Combatants for Peace Movement in cooperation with the Parents’ Circle- Families Forum.
The ceremony included speeches by bereaved family members who are active in forums promoting dialogue, reconciliation and nonviolence.
There were also performances and speeches by notable artists including Ohad Naharin, the artistic director and choreographer of the Batsheva Dance Company; Sha’anan Streett, the lead vocalist of Hadag Nahash; and the Arab-Jewish women’s choir Rana. MKs Zehava Gal- On and Esawi Frej of Meretz, and Dov Henin from the Joint List, were in attendance.
The ceremony first took place 11 years ago as an initiative of Buma Inbar, who lost his son Jotam in 1995 while serving with the Golani Brigade in Lebanon. Since then has it provided an alternative for bereaved families to the official ceremonies.
In a meeting before the ceremony, Combatants for Peace activist and co-founder Suliman Khatib said the movement is facing challenges at home.
“The main opponents we have in the Palestinian society are the anti-normalization’ advocates,” he said.
“There will always be people who would prefer to stay in the comfort zone and stick with old habits.” Khatib referred to the inauguration of the Nelson Mandela Square in Ramallah last month, and stressed that “his way is the way of movement – combating without violence.”
Dozens protested outside the ceremony, shouting, “There is no such thing as a Palestinian people,” and, “Traitors,” at the participants exiting the building. Nir, one of the protesters, told The Jerusalem Post he thinks that having such ceremony is unacceptable.
“I am shocked,” he sad. “I can’t believe that on the day that we mourn our soldiers, some of us find it right to mourn the loss of Palestinians.”