Alternative Israeli memorial ceremony
While the whole country is busy organizing and attending official memorial ceremonies, a group of Jewish and Arab Israelis chose to hold a very diferent ceremony. The group calls itself "Local community" and is part of Hadash ultra-left political party. In its daily operation, the group focuses on establishing dialog between Jews and Arabs in Israel. The ceremony was held in club "The left bank" in Tel Aviv. Yuval Halperin, the organizer says the ceremony is intended to form an alternative to the official memorial day that has become "a day for militaristic propoganda."
A few dozens of people attended the event. Among them was Ibrahim Bushnack, whose nefew was killed in Oct. 2000 riots, Rami Elhannan, member of "The forum of bereaved Israeli and Arab parents", and many refusers and pacifists.
The eldest refusers, Jacob Khen, aged 90, told of an event that occurred in 1956, during the Sinai operation. "I was the intelligence officer at Tel Noff base, from which the paratroopers went on an operation to sieze the Suetz canal. I told my commanders that I refuse to participate in this operation for political reasons. No pacifism, no mercy, just political reasons. With me there were two other officers who refused to participate for similar reasons. this caused a fierce controversy in the officers dining hall. finally we were placed outside the base." Khen added that he believes that political refusing is the the most appropriate one.
Moshe Yehudai, refuser from the 60s, told how he was influenced by Natan Hovashin, who is considered one of the first refusers in Israel. "Hovashin refused acts of opression as far back as the period of the "Second Aliyah" in the 20s." Yehudaitold of talks he held with Hovashin during the 50s and 60s and how thse talks affected his decision to refuse to be enlisted to the army.
Representing the young generation of refusers was Uri Ya'ackobie. He said that the Israeli actions in the occupied territories do not serve anybody except the higher levels of the political realm. "Eliminating Yassin was a mistake. Someone else will replace him and the terror attacks will continue, so what have we gained from this? What have we gained from the occupation in general?"
Ya'ackobie's grandmother, Hava Keller, who fought in the independance war of 1948, also attended the ceremony. Sha said that after she saw how Israel expelled Arab civilians and prevented the chance for peace, she stopped believeing in the rightousness of war. "From that day, my 'career' as a Zionist ended, and I started searching for something else."
Rami Elhannan, bereaved parent, told how emotions of revenge filled him after the loss of his son. But after a while, these feelings chnaged to a desire for co-existense and peace.
Ruth Cantor, of the ultra-left organization "New profile" described how military syumbols penetrates daily lives of Israelis: "A picture of the chief of stuff hanging on a kindergarten wall, children in Poorim wearing military custumes, street names (e.g. "Gaza conqueres" street in Ramat Gan, sharonbn) popular military radio station, army slang in daily language, etc." Cantor told how she was asked to prepare an essey about memorial day at her junior high school. Her essey included anti war and pro peace statements. The school principal requested to talk with her and the essey was put away.
Minutes before the ceremonial sirens went off, Halperin explained to the participants that the sirens is intended for all victims of violence, occupation and wars.
* translated from Ynet.