Activists Hold a Ceremony Reflecting on Both Israeli and Palestinian Losses

With Israel’s most sacrosanct day of remembrance as a backdrop, peace activists in Israel broadcast their annual Joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony on Sunday night, with parallel events in London, New York and Los Angeles.

The ceremony, organized by Combatants for Peace and the Parents Circle — Families Forum, two peace-building organizations, is unusual in that it attempts to recognize not only Israeli grief, but also the toll of Palestinian suffering over the decades. This year’s event was especially poignant given that it was the first since the deadly Hamas-led attack on Israel on Oct. 7 and comes amid the devastation caused by the war in Gaza.

This year the ceremony, which has been held annually since 2006, was pre-recorded to avoid the possibility of disruption by protesters. In previous years it attracted sharp criticism and a legal challenge in Israel, and on Sunday organizers said just before the ceremony was set to be broadcast that its website had been hacked. As a result, the organizers said it was not possible to watch it on YouTube as planned, and viewers instead watched on Facebook.

The ceremony, an annual focus for peace activists in Israel, featured speeches, songs, a poem about peace and a video that showed children in Israel and the West Bank talking about the impact of war. One child wished “for everyone who died to come back to life.” Palestinians in the West Bank did not participate in person, given that Israel stopped allowing many Palestinians to work in Israel after the Oct. 7 attacks led by Hamas, in which around 1,200 people were killed. There were also no direct contributions by speakers in Gaza.

“For many Israelis it seems provocative,” Yuval Rahamim said of the ceremony in an interview by telephone from Tel Aviv. Mr. Rahamim, co-director of the Parents Circle — Families Forum, an Israeli-Palestinian organization of families who have lost immediate relatives in the conflict, said that his father had been killed in the 1967 Arab–Israeli War. He acknowledged that many Israelis would find the event jarring, given the scale of suffering on Oct. 7, but he said that also gave it more significance.

“Many people have woken up to the reality that this conflict cannot go on,” he said, referring to the decades of violence. “People are willing to stand up.”

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