Ideological face off at joint Israeli-Palestinian memorial day ceremony

Far-right protesters call participants "traitors," "enemies."

Thousands attend joint Israeli-Palestinian memorial day ceremony in 2017. (photo credit: UDI SHAHAM)
Thousands attend joint Israeli-Palestinian memorial day ceremony in 2017.
(photo credit: UDI SHAHAM)
An unruly scene unfolded at a Remembrance Day Ceremony featuring bereaved families of Israelis and Palestinians, when far-Right activists disrupted the event, shouting curses and threats at attendees.
Some 4,000 people participated in the Israeli-Palestinian Remembrance Day ceremony – held for the 12th consecutive year – at the Shlomo Group Arena in the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds.
The Combatants for Peace Movement ceremony was organized with the Parents’ Circle Families Forum, a grassroots organization of bereaved Palestinians and Israelis.
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 Achinoam Nini, Mira Awad, Eran Tzur and Rana, an Arab-Jewish women’s choir.
MKs Zehava Gal-On, Michal Rozin and Esawi Frej of Meretz, and Dov Henin from the Joint List, were also in attendance.
Award-winning author David Grossman, who lost his son Uri in the Second Lebanon War, and Breaking the Silence CEO Yuli Novak attended as well.
Outside the event some 50 protesters gathered and shouted at the participators, calling them “traitors” and “Nazis.”
The protesters threw sand at some participants and verbally attacked others. One shouted at the crowd as they entered the hall: “I hate Hitler – not for what he did, but for not finishing the job and killing you.”
Gal-On who was also attacked, called the actions horrendous acts that belittle Remembrance Day.
“We were attacked by curse words and spitting by a bunch of bullies,” she said. “By wrapping the Israeli flag around their bodies they were disparaging it,” she added.
Shalom from Holon that was among the protesters said that the sole purpose of his presence there is to interrupt the ceremony.
“These are the worst people in the world,” he said. “They hate Israel... They are our tragedy.”
Shalom then added that he would like to see a different future as well, but as for now it is impossible, and these kind of events are not the right way to achieve it.
It was reported that two protesters were detained and later sent away from the area.
Hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians gathered in the village of Beit Jala next to Bethlehem in order join the ceremony, and watch the Tel Aviv event via live streaming. According to the organizers, such gatherings took place in other several locations around the globe.
Combatants for Peace activist Avi Latner from Hod Hasharon said that he chooses to mark this day in an Israeli-Palestinian joint ceremony because he holds that a proper way to honor the fallen soldiers is to build a better future and prevent future casualties.
“I lost many friends during my military service,” said Latner, who served in the Nahal Brigade.
“I couldn’t find myself at the traditional formal ceremonies, and at some point I decided to join this one, that seems to me more meaningful and productive.
I hope that through that we could shape the future.”
Last week the Defense Ministry refused to permit the entry of 225 Palestinians into Israel to participate in the ceremony. It was reported that the decision was made following the stabbing attack last week in Tel Aviv, in which a Palestinian teenager visiting the city with a coexistence organization stabbed four people.
MK Henin told The Jerusalem Post that in his point of view, this decision by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman was baseless.
“It’s not like they were an actual threat,” he said. “There was no security related justification for that decision.”
Henin then added that the order reflects current government’s perception of peace-promoting movements. “They do not want to see organizations that wish to see a different future here,” he said.