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 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 distinct ways. In mourning together, we seek not to equate these narratives, but rather to establish that essential similarities remain between these two sacred days.
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. 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. We remind ourselves that occupation, oppression and violence 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.
The Joint Memorial Ceremony is the largest Israeli-Palestinian jointly organized peace event that has ever taken place in history. 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 amplifies and honors the Palestinian experience. The history of marginalized groups is often ignored and repressed, and this Ceremony is an opportunity to share that history on a world-stage. Personal testimonies from everyday people will replace political statements, providing an in-depth and emotional account of historical events. Honoring the pain of the past – and the present – is the only way to forge a peaceful future with true equality, freedom and dignity for all.
By mourning together we begin to shift public opinion on a massive scale.
Together we are building a grassroots movement of joint resistance and community building. We are letting go of victimhood and reclaiming our power as leaders and change makers. Palestinians and Israelis together can end the occupation and forge a new future, a future of peace, freedom, and dignity for all.