Israelis-Palestinians to honor dead at virtual Memorial Day Ceremony

The annual Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony, features both Israeli and Palestinian speakers, who have lost loved ones to violence from the conflict.

Israeli Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony (photo credit: WIKIMEDIA/GITLITS TATYANA)
Israeli Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony
The last time Tal Kfir Schurr heard from her sister Yael almost 17-years ago, she was driving and couldn’t take the call.
Hours later, Capt. Yael Kfir, 22, would be killed in a suicide bombing at a bus stop near the Tzrifin army base.
On Monday night at 8:30 p.m. on YouTube, she will speak of her sister at 15th annual Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony, which will feature both Israeli and Palestinian speakers, who have lost loved ones to violence from the conflict.
Schurr is a member of the Parents Circle Families-Forum, which along with the group Combatants for Peace, sponsored the event.
She recalled for The Jerusalem Post how that day, September 9, 2003, in the afternoon her younger sister Yael had called, and spoke to her partner while she drove.
“It was the regular kind of conversation that you talk without knowing it is going to be the last one,” Schurr said. Through her partner she let Yael know that they would speak later.
But that later conversation never occurred, because Yael was killed in the Tzrifin attack, one that Schurr learned about for the first time while watching television during her work at the box office at Jerusalem’s Kahn Theater.
“I didn't immediately realize or imagine that Yael might be there, but I tried to check on her anyway,” so Tal recalled her. After failing to reach her for a number of hours, she became worried just as her father called to confirm that her sister had been in the attack.
“I said do you think I should go to the hospital to see how she is and he said, “no, don’t, come home.’”
Monday’s event will mark the first time Schurr, a mother of five, has spoken at the ceremony, but she attended past events, which she said gave her a sense of hope that a joint future between Israelis and Palestinians is possible.
“For many years I didn’t see myself in any of the official ceremonies of the state. This ceremony gives me an opportunity to feel that I am doing something that I believe in, I do believe that we will have to find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The fact that both groups, Israelis and Palestinian participants in the ceremony, shows that there is still hope for us to live in peace together in sprit of the difficulty. This hope for change is one of the most important things that we can hold, because without hope there is not much left. Without hope I can not see myself raising my kids here,” she said.
Schurr said action in addition to hope is needed and that people should take whatever steps they can to effect change.
"I wish that no person will need to face the same sorrow and the same difficulty that people on both sides face,” Schurr said.
In her case, that action is to speak of her sister at this event. But for another person, it might be just reaching out to Palestinians to make a simple connection, Schurr said.
“We can’t just say there is nothing we can do, there is always something that we can do," she said.
Part of this begins with Israelis and Palestinians recognizing each other’s narrative, she said.
Other speakers will include Yusra Mahfud from the El Arub refugee camp near Hebron. His son, Alaa, 14, was shot and killed by IDF soldiers in 2000, according to the event organizers.
Yaakub El-Rabi from Bidya village, whose wife, Aisha, was killed by a rock thrown at their car by Jewish settlers in 2018, will also participate, the organizers said.
In addition, Haggai Yoel from Kibbutz Ramat Rachel, will speak of his brother Eyal, who was killed in Jenin, during Operation Defensive Shield, according to the organizers.