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Israeli government bars Palestinians from joint memorial ceremony

The Israeli Defense Ministry canceled all permits for Palestinian peace activists from the West Bank to attend a joint ceremony on the eve of Memorial Day.

Palestinians and Israelis take part in the yearly alternative Memorial Day service organized by Combatants for Peace. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinians and Israelis take part in the yearly alternative Memorial Day service organized by Combatants for Peace. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

For the first time in the 12 years since its founding, Sunday’s joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day ceremony will take place in Tel Aviv without Palestinian peace activists.

In previous years the Israeli Ministry of Defense has allowed tens and even hundreds of Palestinians into Israel so they can attend the event; on this occasion, however, every single permit was canceled. The Defense Ministry claims its decision was in response to the stabbing attack that took place in Tel Aviv two weeks ago, carried out by a Palestinian who had used a permit to cross from the West Bank into Israel.

Various legal petitions to get the decision overturned failed, and the organizers decided to hold a parallel event for Palestinian activists in Beit Jala, next to Bethlehem. Hundreds were expected to participate, including dozens of Israeli activists.

The ceremony is a joint initiative of the Parents Circle Families Forum and Combatants for Peace. In a press statement responding to the Defense Ministry’s decision, Combatants for Peace said: “Separation, intimidation and the heated and violent public discourse push away the hand that is outstretched in peace to the other side.”

The Parents Circle Families Forum added that the decision is “another assault on bereaved families and parents, who have paid the most painful price of all for the conflict. The defense minister’s decision…demonstrates the state’s unwillingness to listen to or even recognize the suffering of the other side.

“Our Palestinian partners are trying to instill a message of hope into a society consumed by despair,” the statement added.

This year’s ceremony was also threatened by activists on the extreme Right, who bombarded the organizers with thousands of hateful messages and death threats. On Sunday morning, the organizers submitted a complaint to the police, and the ceremony is being held under the protection of police and private security guards.

The ceremony will feature speeches from bereaved family members — both Israeli and Palestinian — including Roni Hirshenson, who lost one son in a suicide bombing and another to suicide; Meital Ofer, whose father was killed in a terror attack; Siam Nuwara Abu Nadim, whose son was shot dead by a Border Police officer; and Marian Saada, whose 12-year-old sister was killed after Israeli soldiers opened fire on the shared taxi she was riding in.

The joint ceremony’s stated aim is to try and get Israelis and Palestinians to recognize one another’s pain, and to propose partnership and peace as alternatives to occupation, war and killing. Three years ago, a colleague referred to the ceremony as simply “normalization by way of memorialization.” My response today is the same as it was then: that even in light of the difference between occupier and occupied, it’s precisely in death and remembrance that we can speak of equality.

This post was originally published in Hebrew on Local Call.

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    COMMENTS

    1. carmen

      No surprises here. It has been the custom of the zionist state to only recognize the pain inflicted upon jews, not the pain jews inflict upon the palestinians.

      Reply to Comment
      • Itshak Gordin Halevy

        Yes, as in every country in the world.

        Reply to Comment
        • carmen

          The worse argument/excuse in the world. Didn’t you ever learn that just because your friends do it doesn’t mean you can or should? In answer to the usual ‘why is ‘israel’ held to different standards’, my short list:
          a) ‘israel’ claims it is the only democracy in the ME, but behaves like any other theocracy/xenophobic 3rd world enterprise.
          b) ‘israel’ is the only enterprise that goes by another title ‘the holy land’. Stop calling it ‘the holy land’ and it’s jewish inhabitants ‘chosen’ people and be just another 3rd world sandbox full of people.

          Reply to Comment
          • i_like_ike52

            Actually, it is the non-Jews who generally refer to it as “The Holy Land”. You had better convince them first. Also, I am sure you are aware that the Muslims view themselves as the “chosen people” so you should work to get them off that as well.

            In fact, Israeli Arabs are pretty happy in Israel and view the country positively. They don’t seem to think it is the “sandbox” you and the other “progressives” loath so much.

            http://www.timesofisrael.com/israeli-arabs-view-country-more-positively-than-jews-survey-finds/

            Reply to Comment
          • carmen

            I’m not talking about Palestinians – it’s their land, they view it as they want and I respect their choice. It’s the hypocritical zionists who’ve done more damage to the land than anything else – it was blooming way before 1948. They’ve turned it out and made it a european ghetto interspersed with beverly hillbilly mcmansions. They apparently loathe this land to treat it so badly.

            Reply to Comment
          • JeffB

            Now of course in the real world the boom started in 1927. It was a Citrus boom caused by the Yishuv (Zionism) when they cleared the land of the mosquitos and converted it to productive farmland. The actual state of Palestine pre-Zionism was a starving, desperately poor, malaria infested country with dilapidated infrastructure including the historical churches and mosques. Israel looks nothing like a European ghetto except in traditional cities like Safed where the old world charm is why people want to live there.

            Reply to Comment
          • Firentis

            I am confused. If the land was blooming previously why did it take the hypocritical Zionists to bring it up to the level where people can build Beverly Hillbilly Mansions in it?

            Those pesky hypocritical Zionists that take a 3rd world country and bring it up to European standards of living. They make me so mad! ARGH! Why, oh why can’t they just go away and stop making this land thrive?

            Reply to Comment
          • carmen

            I know you’re confused; you’re a zionist. The zionist settlers don’t break a sweat unless they’re running down palestinian children going to and from school. Palestinian and Thai workers are doing all the work, the zionists are too busy pretending they’re master.

            Reply to Comment
          • JeffB

            @Carmen

            Funny the British didn’t agree with you on that. Their health budget for Palestine was between 6-9% prior to the Yishuv clearing the land of Malaria and fell to 4% after. They btw did attribute it to Jewish anti-malarial work. So tough when the statistic undermine you bigotry.

            Reply to Comment
          • Firentis

            Weird. I have to go to work on a regular basis. And no one where I work is Palestinian or Thai. Is my office an exception? I’ll have to ask around. It would be pretty damn awesome if I could hire a Palestinian or Thai to do my work for me. Then I would have the time for what is apparently my hobby – running down Palestinian children. I didn’t know that I was supposed to be into that, but you seem to know us so well, and I feel that I can trust you on this one.

            Nor do I understand why running down Palestinian children would cause someone to break a sweat. I would think that one wouldn’t be sweating when driving a modern air-conditioned car. Do a lot of people sweat in air-conditioned cars? Is there a way to drive in a car without sweating? I thought the AC would cover this but thanks to your comment I am not so sure now. Answers to these questions are critically important due to my newly found hobby which, as I haven’t done so yet, I must thank you for. I was just thinking recently that I don’t have enough hobbies and out of the blue you show up here with your brilliant suggestion.

            Yours truly,
            a confused Zionist

            Reply to Comment
          • JeffB

            @Firentis

            I’ve long ago given up on buying that Carmen lives there. She doesn’t know enough about Israel to fake it.

            Reply to Comment
          • Firentis

            This is an interesting question. I have wondered about it myself. On the one hand she is so full of disgust for Israel and Israelis that it is difficult to imagine someone going through a regular day in this country. She would just fill up to the brim with hatred upon seeing an Israeli flag flying and would have a hard time interacting with Israelis without suspecting each of them of being Zionazi baby killers. On the other hand there are some very bitter people here. None so bitter as the betrayed socialists — the people that came in the 1970s to experience the socialism of the Israeli Kibbutz and then got stuck here in one way or another. I have always imagined Carmen as one of those people. Someone that started out as a young socialist dreamer and then had to deal with all the disillusionment of having Israel turn very very capitalist and turn politically to the right. At that point the internet came about and people like that started getting their news from various fringe sources like mondoweiss, rt, aj and 972mag. That reinforced their original socialist ideals while feeding them a steady stream of Israel hatred. It also provided them with communities to vent in and a mission in life — to “expose” Israel as “witnesses”.

            Then again perhaps I am wasting my time pondering questions that don’t deserve my time.

            In any case, Happy Yom Atzmaut! Interestingly Independence Day here, like in the US, is about grilling meat. I wonder if that is common around the world. Anyways, off to bed. Barbecue tomorrow. Good night.

            Reply to Comment
          • carmen

            You got that partly right so must know a lot of disenchanted, angry people. Happy to be part of that bunch. We despise each other equally, awesome!

            Reply to Comment
          • carmen

            I’ll never understand how one group of people can be happy and content at the expense of another. Is that happiness and content specifically derived from the pain and suffering of the other? That isn’t a jewish value, or a human one for that matter, unless the humans are actually monsters.

            Reply to Comment
          • Firentis

            We would celebrate our independence and existence in our homeland regardless of whether the Palestinians existed or not. We are not about to let people that think that we shouldn’t exist spoil our celebration of what we have created here.

            Reply to Comment
          • carmen

            This too shall pass, with or without your acceptance or agreement.

            Reply to Comment
          • carmen

            Ha! I was speaking about agriculture, not offices dear. Oh my you really are confused if you couldn’t figure that out. Lay off the pipe.

            Reply to Comment
    2. i_like_ike52

      I don’t think that having a Palestinian using a permit to enter Israel for the sake of ‘peace dialogue’ in order to carry out a terrorist attack is the best way to convince Israelis of the good intentions of those who participate in such events.

      Reply to Comment
      • JeffB

        @Ike

        How many incidents of Palestinians using permits from peace dialogue then using them for terrorists attacks have their been?

        Reply to Comment
    3. Lewis from Afula

      Well, we don’t want suicide bombers do we?
      That’s why we keep them OUT.

      Reply to Comment
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