Yesterday at 8:00 p.m., there was a short siren, marking the eve of this stately remembrance day. Then at 20:30, I sit in front of the computer to watch the only ceremony that counts to me these days: The Israeli-Palestinian memorial ceremony organized by two peace associations: “Combatants for Peace” and “The Israeli-Palestinian Forum of bereaved families.”
It’s the only ceremony that counts because it’s the only ceremony that walks its talk. The only ceremony with courageous integrity, the only ceremony that speaks about the possibility of peace in this region and keeps the fire of hope burning in people’s hearts.
Israelis and Palestinians together, sharing the memories of their lost ones and vowing to fight for peace.
Then I go to bed to be mentally and spiritually prepared for tomorrow.
Morning coffee with Assaf, then my morning walk. Then packing, because we are going north after the annual ceremony at the military cemetery. We all know the drill. The kids are behaving, silently preparing their stuff on their own. They try to be kind, not to bother me. I leave food for the chicken, we go.
When we arrive at the entrance of Haifa, there is a big traffic jam. I call my dad; he is already in place at Tal’s grave, having parked in the handicapped parking lot. We finally advance, park, and walk to the cemetery entrance.
Tens of thousands of people, all well dressed, walked in silence to the same entrance. Youth movement kids give out flower bouquets to put on the graves. We get the remembrance stamp with the Maccabi Bloodflower on it. Everyone does. Water bottles are also given out. We walk to Tal’s grave; we know the way. We kissed my father; we met the military representative they sent us this year; they send one every year. This year it was a girl, her name was Nitsan, she was red-haired, lovely.
A well-organized stately bereaving ceremony. The bugle, the ceremonial shots in the air, the Kadish (a prayer for the dead), a speech by some political representative, ceremonial bouquets by god knows who, and the national hymn to finish with. It’s over. The only reason we are there, my whole family who hates this occasion, is for Tal. My father once said that, and we all agreed, we do not want his grave to be without his family beside it. He was a pacifist; he would have hated this all too. We cannot leave him alone in this ceremony; we suffer it with him, again and again, each year.
I let out a sigh; another one checked. We go for lunch on the beach, the family, whoever came from the extended one this year—a family tradition. Thanks to Tal, we meet and invest this precious time together every year.
I hate this stately organized hypocritic ceremony, where every year politicians speak to us who lost our dear ones in this conflict; every year, with no shame, to more and more of us, that we are a peace-loving people. Right… There is an expression in Israel: “Go sell Lettuce in the occupied territories,” which means: Go lie to someone else who doesn’t know the obvious truth.
Yesterday in the Israeli-Palestinian ceremony, when I opened the Youtube channel to watch, the chat was automatically open. There were many comments of people treating the organizers and participants of the ceremony as traitors. This year more outspokenly, because of the latest terrorist attacks.
I glanced at the chat and closed it.
I love that ceremony; this is the ceremony for me. A big, bold ray of light in a very dark tunnel we’re all crawling in for 74 years now.
Tonight is independence day. Israel, the state I was born in 53 years ago, for which my brother Tal gave his life, is 74 years old. Seventy-four years of stately cherished bloodshed.
There is no future here without peace.
If there is a god, I have only one request, if I may, that in my lifetime, there will be peace with the Palestinian people.