Photo: Yariv Katz
Israelis protesting joint event
Photo: Yariv Katz
Ben-Dror Yemini

Joint Memorial Day event a deception

Opinion: While in past years I argued Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day ceremony is about peace, reconciliation, organizers Combatants for Peace recently expressed support for 'right of return,' a fantasy intended to deny Israel's right to exist as a Jewish, democratic state, not promote peace

Two years ago, I sent an open letter to the defense minister and asked that he allow entry to Palestinians wishing to take part in the joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony. I wrote that among the Left, there are two different modes of action. There are those who seek to constantly demonize the State of Israel; they travel the world portraying Israelis as monsters.



The second category, the Combatants for Peace who organize the annual joint ceremony, operate very differently, I wrote. They are seeking a humane common denominator. It is understandable that people find a problem with comparing the killers to the victims, but nevertheless, the very fact that the joint ceremony takes place indicates a desire to oppose violence and prefer reconciliation, peace and hope.


Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day ceremony
Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day ceremony

Last year, I sent a similar letter to the defense minister, who issued a similar order blocking entry to Palestinian participants, before it was overturned by the High Court.


But something has changed. The decision taken several days ago to prevent entry for Palestinians seeking to participate in the ceremony was correct and justified. With all due respect, the High Court need not interfere in every decision it does not agree with.


Why am I saying that the government was correct in its decision? Because six months ago, Combatants for Peace activists published an advertisement that was pure propaganda for the fantasy that is the Palestinian "right of return."


There is no such right, tens of millions of people became refugees in the last century, as a result of the collapse of empires and population exchanges following the establishment of ethnic nation states. After a few years, they ceased being refugees. Those tens of millions never had a "right of return." Only the leaders of Arab states refused every option to rehabilitate refugees by insisting on eternalizing the problem.


Protesters outside of event
Protesters outside of event


The moment the refugee problem came into being, the demand for their return was not for the sake of peace but rather for the sake of the destruction of Israel. Already in October of 1949, the Egyptian foreign minister Muhamad Salah a-Din declared: "The demand for refugees to return is a demand to liquidate Israel."


Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser said in 1960: "If the refugees return to Israel, that will be the end of Israel." In 1988, Saker Habash, senior adviser to PLO chairman Yasser Arafat, said: For us, the matter of the refugees is the trump card for the purpose of eliminating Israel." I can go on.


In recent decades, the Palestinians were repeatedly offered options for the establishment of a state on 95% of the territories (the West Bank and Gaza). They rebuffed all offers. The main issue was not the settlements but the Palestinians demand for the "right of return."


The theme repeats itself: as former chairman of Fatah's central committee Farouk Kaddoumi said in 2002: "the right of return for refugees to Jaffa and Haifa is more important than a state." Palestinian stubbornness against recognizing the idea of two states for two peoples is based on the fact that such an acknowledgement will prevent a mass return of refugees, explicitly or implicitly.


In order to advance a peace agreement, the peace camp should have not only pressured the government against building outside of major settlement blocs, but also declare to the Palestinians that the demand for the right of return is a demand for national suicide. It will not happen.


But when a group like the Combatants for Peace adopts the rejectionist Arab and Palestinian stance and encourages the demand for the "right of return," it is not advancing the cause of peace but rather of rejectionism. They are adopting the stance of those who seek to destroy.


They are not fighting for freedom, independence or an end to the "occupation," but against the very existence of the State of Israel. If the IDF imposes a general curfew on the West Bank for Memorial Day and Independence Day, there is no need to make allowances specifically for those serving an anti-Israel campaign.


Most Israeli leftists support compromise, reconciliation and two states for to peoples. They do not support the fantasy of destroying Israel through demanding the "right of return." The Left-wing Meretz Party also opposes the "right of return."


The moment the organization behind the joint Memorial Day Ceremony openly declares its support for a demand intended to deny the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish and democratic state — it has crossed a line.


The joint ceremony is a deception. The High Court should only interfere in unique cases involving violations of fundamental rights. This is not the case. The ceremony does not deserve support, not of leftists nor of the High Court.




פרסום ראשון: 05.07.19, 22:53
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