Why do we Mourn Together?
Israel and Palestine have each established a national day of remembrance wherein they mourn the consequences of the decades-long conflict with the one another. Historically, and culturally, both communities have elevated this day of national remembrance to one of sacred observance.
Israelis mourn on Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day) and Palestinians on the Nakba (Day of Catastrophe). The narratives that the Palestinian and Israeli communities hold are vastly different: the two sides understand the history and the politics in two completely different ways. Yet essential similarities remain between these two sacred days:
1. At the forefront of each day’s remembrance and mourning, is an expression of deep pain and grief for the tragic losses this conflict has wrought. 2. Traditionally, both of these days serve to reinforce cultural narratives of victimhood, hopelessness and despair.
By bringing the “other side” – the enemy – to each other’s Memorial or Remembrance Ceremony, Combatants for Peace transforms despair into hope, and builds bridges of compassion and respect. We remind ourselves that occupation and war are not inevitable. When we learn to understand and respect each other we become able to forge a just peace.
Our 16th annual Joint Memorial Ceremony, co-hosted by Parents Circle Families Forum, was sponsored by over 60 organizations worldwide last year. It will be held again on April 13, 2021. Our second annual Joint Nakba Ceremony will be held on May 15, 2021.
War is Not an Act of Fate.
Occupation is a Human Choice – and we can choose another way!
What is the Impact?
These Ceremonies set the foundation for widespread cultural change. Together we are building a new reality based on compassion and respect.
The Joint Memorial Ceremony is the largest Israeli-Palestinian jointly organized peace event that takes place (or has ever taken place) historically. Last year 200,000 people participated in the event and over a million people streamed it afterwards. Nearly every peace-building NGO in the region participates in some way, whether through co-sponsorship or by sending their members to attend.
The Joint Nakba Remembrance Ceremony is the only Nakba commemoration in all of Palestine (and probably anywhere in the world) that includes Israelis as participants and speakers in the Ceremony. The history of the Palestinian people is not taught in Israeli schools nor acknowledged in Israeli society. To share in and express compassion for the painful and often hidden history of the Palestinian people is a powerful, radical act – and it brings people together in deeply profound ways.
By sharing our histories and cultural narratives with each other, and mourning together for all we have lost due to this conflict, we begin to shift public opinion on a massive scale.
We are building a grassroots movement for peace, dignity, freedom and equality – and we are reclaiming our power. We can end the conflict between us; all it requires compassion, empathy and mutual respect.