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Posts

Yaalon bans joint Israeli/Palestinian remembering


A previous Combatants for Peace ceremony, involving both Palestinians and Israelis
Defense Minister Yaalon Rejects Palestinian Participation in Alternative Memorial Day Ceremony

By Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam
April 11, 2013

Yesterday, I posted the flyer for Friday’s Yom Ha-Zikaron ceremony sponsored by Combatants for Peace [below]. It is the eighth year in which they’ve offered an event that incorporated the political and national narrative of the suffering and sacrifice of two peoples in this land called Israel. Each year, the NGO must submit a list of those Palestinians from the Occupied Territories who will participate. Usually, most names are approved, while some are rejected for “security reasons.” Those rejected are usually offered some reason that applies to their case.

This is the first year in which all 109 Palestinians have been summarily rejected. No individual reasons were offered. But the Civil Authority did say in a phone call seeking clarification that the IDF opposes this ceremony in a fundamental way. The Authority intensely dislikes this request and it is rejected at the most senior level.

That means that the Defense Minister himself, Bogie Yaalon has determined that this ceremony presents an existential danger to the State. How so? How does a memorial ceremony incorporating two peoples endanger the State? Because, the conventional Israeli narrative says that we Jews suffered immensely during our history, but especially during the Holocaust. We exploited and transformed that suffering into a Jewish state. Whereupon the Arabs determined that they must do their best to continue the bloodletting that anti-Semites have imposed on us through the millenia.

Yom Ha-Zikaron is a fundamental national holiday that imposes a rigid psychological and ideological yoke on all Israeli Jews. It is a commemoration that combines honoring the national dead and giving homage to the ongoing national mission.

Combatants for Peace’s ceremony threatens to subvert this unifying national myth. That’s why it’s especially dangerous.

There are few avenues left for the democracy movement in Israel, but one that remains is the Supreme Court. There, with the assistance of human rights attorney, Gaby Lasky, the group will turn in a few hours time to file a preliminary motion (here is the Hebrew language press release) demanding that the IDF allow the Palestinians free movement to attend Friday’s event in Tel Aviv. This news has not been published anywhere till now. Not even inside Israel (though it will shortly).

MKs such as Zahava Gal-On, Dov Khenin, Meirav Michaeli, and representatives of President Peres have appealed to Yaalon to relent–to no avail.

The profound irony of this matter is that CfP conducted a first of its kind tour of Yad VaShem (Hebrew) with Israeli and Palestinian survivors of terror attacks. The visit made a very deep impression on the Palestinian participants, many of whom were the very same individuals whose permits to attend the memorial Day service had been denied. Apparently, when Palestinians embrace the Israeli national narrative by visiting Yad Va’Shem, exceptions can be made for them. But when they are threatening it, then none can be made.

I urge you to contact your nearest Israeli consulate, embassy, or UN Mission (in New York), and the Israeli foreign and defense ministries to protest this outrageous breach against freedom of expression and Israeli democracy. Israel is not yet a police state. But with decisions like this, Bogie Yaalon has brought Israel farther down the road toward this catastrophic outcome.

Due to the popularity of past ceremonies, CfP decided to rent a larger hall for this year’s event. As a result, it incurred added expenses which it has not yet covered. If you’re so moved, please give a tax-deductible gift via Razoo.


Combatants for Peace Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony

By Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam
April 10, 2013

One of Israel’s leading peace activist NGOs, Combatants for Peace, holds a joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony every year. This year’s event will happen on April 14th in Tel Aviv. Below is a flyer for the event.

It is important because it presents an alternative to the what Salo Baron termed the “lachrymose” narrative of Jewish history. Israel’s Yom HaZikaron is conventionally viewed as a joint memorial to the victims of Israel’s wars and the Holocaust. As such, it presents Israeli history as one of victimization and suffering. There is no sense of any other permissible narrative, such as one that might accommodate the presence and suffering of Palestinians.

Aviva Shemesh, the group’s spokesperson wrote this by way of explanation of the purpose of the event:

This event is important in terms of influencing the mainstream perception about commemorating death and revering it, which is what the institutional commemoration ceremonies do. In contrast, we are trying to say that a different reality is possible, that the blood on this side of the border is not more valuable that that of Palestinians and that we need to look forward and praise life rather than praising death.

For this reason, this event is extremely controversial in Israeli nationalist circles. All the more reason to support its existence. Due to an ambitious expansion in plans for this year’s program, Combatants for Peace needs funding to pay for expenses.

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