miércoles, mayo 11, 2016

PALESTINA / ISRAEL: no much hope

Combatants for Peace
Last night Israel started its Memorial Day on which the country remembers the victims of its many wars and endless confrontation with Palestine. But for the past 11 years Combatants for Peace, an organisation of Israelis and Palestinians, held a parallel commemoration in partnership with Bereaved Families, which also brings together Israelis and Palestinians. It took place in a sports arena in the presence of some 3000 people, as well as many watching on the Internet in Palestine, in Europe and in North America. Very few could attend from the Occupied Territories because of Israeli restrictions or because of the ostracism of anything tainted by 'normalisation' among the Palestinians. Among the supporters were young and old but seemingly very few Israelis of Middle Eastern descent. There was also a high proportion of English speakers (for whom the organisers thoughtfully provided English subtitles in addition to the Arabic and Hebrew.)
The programme was put together with complete parity of representation and unfailing regard for both dignity and commitment. The testimony of a Palestinian mother of eight who has lost two sons killed by the IDF and one forced into exile to treat his wounds, defied description as she recounted the strength and hope gained from her involvement in Bereaved Families. Two young men whose sisters had been killed in childhood spoke almost despairingly but still said that violence only strengthens their hope.
The event opened with a searing song of sorrow and despair with the words for 'death' and 'darkness’ from a lone singer with her guitar, and at the close an all-woman choir sang a version of a traditional Passover song which left us hoping for an end or in my case clinging to a thin thread of hope.
No politicians, no strident rhetoric, but not much optimism either.
Tonight Independence Day - and next Sunday Nakba Day - so I suppose it will be back to ‘normal’: triumphalist celebrations on one side, rock throwing on the other: I hope there will not be injuries, or worse.


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