After the High Court’s intervention, an alternative Memorial Day ceremony took place in Tel-Aviv with participants from bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families. Several dozens of right-wing activists protested outside the ceremony, shouting and demanding to stop it. Some were burning Palestinian flags.
Israelis and Palestinians attended the ceremony, last night Photo Credit: Tomer Neuberg/Flash 90
Following public criticism and a controversial decision made by the Israeli High Court, the annual alternative Memorial Day ceremony, which is attended by bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families, took place last night (Tuesday) in Tel-Aviv. Around 6,800 people attended the ceremony, including 90 Palestinian families from the West Bank. Several right-wing activists protested near the ceremony, shouting and even burning Palestinian flags.
“We don’t need the Memorial Day in order to remember,” said Rami Elhanan, one of the ceremony’s organizers and a bereaved father himself. “For us, this is a heavy burden. We want to show that the pain is mutual and that without any communication, this will never end. We are not trying to hurt anyone. I don’t think that there’s a difference between one blood and another, one pain and another, or between a murderer and murdered when they’re all buried. We need to talk about the price that we pay for the occupation—it took my daughter.”
Author David Grossman spoke at the ceremony and stated that he will donate half of the amount he received for winning the Israel Prize to the Elifelet organization and the Bereaved Families Forum– the organizers of the joint ceremony. “Israel is less of a home when the Prime Minister is inciting against humanitarian organizations and trying to legislate laws to bypass the High Court,” said Grossman in his speech. “Israel is less of a home when Israel is discriminating against the residents of the peripheral area, South Tel-Aviv, and hardens the hearts of elderly Holocaust survivors.”
Several dozens of right-wing activists were protesting near the entrance to the ceremony, including Lehava activists, lawyer Itamar Ben Gvir, Ran Carmi Buzaglo and rapper The Shadow. The activists lit memorial candles and shouted: “Close their ceremony! The ceremony harms the Israeli people, arrest them!” “They’re murdering Jews daily and the Israel Police enables them to stand here” and “Death to left-wingers!” The protesters also claimed that the ceremony’s organizers are creating an analogy between the “murderous Arab terror” and “Israel’s defensive actions.”
Prior to last night’s events, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman decided to prevent the 90 Palestinian families from entering Israel, contradicting the decisions of the last 12 years that allowed them to attend the ceremony. However, several bereaved Israeli families petitioned the Israeli High Court of Justice against Liberman’s decision and the court ruled in their favor.