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Danger: Peace Combatants

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Last year's joint memorial service held in Tel Aviv.
Last year's joint memorial service held in Tel Aviv. Credit: Ofer Vaknin

At the defense establishment’s order, the state has denied the requests of 181 Palestinians to take part in the Israeli-Palestinian memorial ceremony on the eve of the Memorial Day for Israel’s fallen soldiers.

The ceremony is held every year in Tel Aviv by the Combatants for Peace movement and the Israeli-Palestinian Parents Circle Families Forum.

>> Read more: Netanyahu bars all 181 Palestinian participants from attending joint Memorial Day ceremony

Israel denied all 181 requests, claiming that on Memorial Day, closure is imposed on the West Bank. Last year, when the defense establishment attempted to prevent the Palestinian peace activists’ entrance to Israel, at the order of then-Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the High Court of Justice revoked the decision, ruling that it was “tainted with real lack of balance and lack of reasonableness.”

A year later, the defense establishment has not learned any lesson from the High Court’s ruling. It has returned to its evil ways, blatantly ignoring the High Court’s previous ruling, this time at the order of another defense minister, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The memorial service is one of the last joint, hope-inspiring events that are still held by both peoples. Israelis and Palestinians have stopped meeting almost entirely, except in violent confrontations. But even this heartwarming meeting, held by the victims’ representatives from both nations – Combatants for Peace and the Bereaved Families Forum – is one step too far for the Israeli defense establishment. Its officials know that every such get-together could again raise the subversive notion that the Palestinians are human beings, just like the Jews. That their mourning is like the Israelis’ mourning, and their bereavement is identical to the Israeli kind.

The gathering apparently generates in the defense establishment’s eyes another grave danger: It could raise the idea that there are still partners to peace among the Palestinians. This is the threat that the Israeli defense establishment is determined to quash in any way possible, even by preventing a joint memorial rally.

The very idea that Palestinian peace activists have to ask for the occupier’s permission to enter Israel for a memorial rally is outrageous, but everyone has become used to it and sees as normal. Nothing is normal about occupation, but sometimes it spills over into especially deranged realms. For example, when the state prevents Palestinian peace activists from taking part in a memorial rally for its own fallen soldiers, on Israel’s Memorial Day.

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