With NIF sponsorship and support, the evening of May 3rd marked the 17th annual Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day ceremony. The annual ceremony, hosted by NIF grantees the Parents Circle – Families Forum (PCFF) and Combatants for Peace, brings bereaved families and individuals together from Israeli and Palestinian communities to share grief and unite in hope.
This year’s ceremony was the third consecutive year the event was broadcast live online. This meant that the messages of the memorial — of shared pain and shared hope — could reach hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. Speakers at the event recounted the harrowing loss of loved ones; many shared messages of unity and a commitment to togetherness in the face of systemic violence, separation, and despair.
In one moving speech, Huda Abu Arqoub, Regional Director for our partner Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP), eloquently summed up the spirit of the event: “Peace is not just a nice notion, but a crucial need,” she said. “This is our commitment to our loved ones and to the world watching us. When structural violence hits us from all corners, we co-resist the systems that want us to be enemies.”
The ceremony also included beautiful and emotional performances from musicians like Ramle-born rapper, Sameh ‘Saz’ Zakout, whose work NIF has supported in the past, spoken word artist Yossi Zabari, winner of a 2020 Essential Arts Grant, and a stirring speech by former Director of Breaking the Silence and bestselling author Yuli Novak.
The event’s peak came when thirteen members of Combatants for Peace (former fighters and combatants joined together in the pursuit of non-violent resistance and freedom for all) were joined onstage by thirteen bereaved Palestinian and Israeli mothers and widows who vowed to fight for peace, equality, and justice for all those living in the region.