Moti Fogel, whose older brother Udi was murdered in Itamar with his wife and children a few weeks ago, plans to speak at an alternative commemoration of Israel’s Yom Ha-Zikaron alongside a bereaved Palestinian woman, Siyam Abu Awad. Abu Awad’s brother, Yousef, was killed by IDF fire in 2000 in a village near Hebron.
The event is sponsored by the Israeli NGO Combatants for Peace, whose members are veterans who’ve fought on both sides of the conflict. They will be joined in the ceremony by Israeli and Palestinian families who’ve lost loved ones to the fighting, along with artists from both sides. Fogel hopes that he can move forward the goals of dialogue, reconciliation and non-violence for both Israelis and those living under the PA.
Combatants for Peace leader Asher Wishnitzer says that the purpose of its commemoration is to transform the suffering and loss experienced by those living with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so that we can struggle with it together. Usually the bereavement builds walls, close off and distance people from one another. But we want to deal with this together. War is not something fated, but rather a human choice.
Abu Awad denounced the killings in Itamar and called them a “crime.” She called for non-violence in pursuing the claims on both sides, and added that while the IDF soldier who killed her brother is not welcome in her home, she would invite him to meet her brother’s orphaned children and the rest of his family to determine whether the shots that killed him were appropriate or not.
I’m overcome by emotion and gratitude that Moti Fogel is able to overcome his grief and reach out in such a constructive way to both Israelis and Palestinians alike. It cannot be an easy thing he is doing.