Combatants for Peace Memorial Day event 311.
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
“Using the memory of fallen victims to justify war is no more false than using
it to advance the cause of peace. It is the cynical and too easy use of the loss
that leaves us lacking words,” said Motty Fogel, whose brother Udi was murdered
along with his wife, Ruth, and three of his children by terrorists in the Itamar
settlement on March 11.
Fogel spoke on Sunday to more than a thousand
people at the Tel Aviv Port at a ceremony held by the group Combatants for Peace
to remember Israeli and Palestinian victims of the conflict.
I “can’t use
the loss of my brother as a platform to advance peace,” Fogel said.
and his wife, Ruti, chose to raise their kids in Itamar, because they believed
in their right and probably their obligation to live in every corner of the Land
of Israel. Udi and Ruti and their three children – Yoav, Eldad and Hadas – were
murdered as residents of Itamar.
During the shiva, there were days when I
was mad at my brother and the decisions he made, but they had to be, because he
chose to make them.”
Fogel seemed to take a defiant tone of sorts,
pleading for Remembrance Day to be stripped of its political and ideological content, and laid bare as a national
day of aching and bereavement for lost loved ones.
“Remembrance Day must
be one day in the year on which we mourn the soldiers who died, even if they
chose to go off and fight in wars that we believe must have been prevented, a
day where we don’t mourn them as people lacking free will who went off to their
deaths. We must mourn them as human beings with free will. And we must honor all
of those who died so that we can be here, not as a political stance, but as
something that comes from this simple stance.”
Titled “Remembering the
Victims: Israelis and Palestinians Remember the Victims of Violence,” Sunday’s
event was held as an alternative Remembrance Day ceremony of sorts, held for the
sixth year running by Combatants for Peace.
In its mission statement,
Combatants for Peace calls itself “a group of Palestinians and Israelis who have
taken an active part in the cycle of violence in our area; the Israelis as
soldiers in the IDF and the Palestinians as combatants fighting to free their
country, Palestine, from the Israeli occupation.”
The NGO’s statement
adds, “We are convinced that the conflict cannot be resolved through military
means exercised by either side.”
A handful of young people holding flags
and banners demonstrated outside the event, and verbally confronted participants
until police asked them to leave. They told participants that the event was a
disgrace to the memory of fallen soldiers.
Ahmad al-Jaffari, from the
Dehaishe refugee camp south of Bethlehem, was not able to cross the Green Line
to attend the event.
He sent a video in which he spoke of the suffering
his family went through in the conflict, including the death of an uncle during
a hunger strike while serving a 13-year prison sentence.
He told how he
served four years in jail, from age 15 to 19, for taking part in violent
protests against the occupation during the first intifada. After his release, he
married and “started to think that this war is one that never ends, because
there is no way that the Israeli people will destroy the Palestinian people and
no way that the Palestinians will destroy the Israeli people.”
said he began to take part in meetings with bereaved Israeli families, and came
to the conclusion that “there has been enough bloodshed; peace needs to come
from the people, through dialogue between the peoples.”