My name is Adam Rabia, I am 43 and from Ramallah. This is the fourth year I will be watching the ceremony, and the second year that I am also involved in producing it. Today it is clear to me why I participate in this Ceremony, but the journey here was not easy.
When I first heard about the Joint Memorial, I was very curious. I wanted to be there and to understand what the event was about, so I signed up to be one of the guests. Memorial Day is usually an Israeli-only occasion, and as I sat there I felt the old warrior in me was resisting and anxious, and raising questions: how can I be here while the occupation is still going on? Like in a film, the pictures went through my head: home demolitions, administrative imprisonment, settler violence, herdsmen and shepherds’ broken voices separated from their land, cries of mothers fearing the fate of their children. But the more I listened, the more I realized how this ceremony is a place where something extraordinary was happening….
I remember being surprised to see Israelis who wanted peace and who acknowledged the pain of the Palesinian community. I did not know, throughout my years in the resistance, that there was pain on the other side. I could not imagine that a soldier (who I always felt was a threat) had a mother who would cry if he was killed, just as my mother would cry if I was killed.
At the ceremony, I saw tears in people’s eyes, and I couldn’t identify if they were Israeli or Palestinian. I saw people who believed in each other. I saw emotions, thoughtfulness, compassion. I saw that there is a place where I could share my pain and also feel the pain of the “other.”
I remember the moment when they announced the arrival of the Palestinian guests, and the whole crowd – thousands of people – applauded for long minutes. It was so exciting … I felt like I was in the right place. This is the world I want. And I want it to grow and expand to the whole country.
Two years ago, when they were looking for a Palestinian to take the lead in co-producing the ceremony, I took on this role. This Ceremony gives me a voice, and it changed my life.