Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Independence Day: Alternative Beacons

On the eve of Independence Day (Wednesday, April 29 this year), there is an official ceremony that includes the lighting of 12 beacons representing the 12 tribes of Israel. People are chosen to light them and it all takes place at Mt. Herzl with an army parade and the full establishment present, military and civilian.
The peace camp organization Yesh Gvul conducts a parallel alternative ceremony at Emil Gruenzwig Square, named for a peace martyr who was murdered while demonstrating against the first Lebanon war 27 years ago. A set of alternative beacons is lit for a better, a more egalitarian and a peaceful Israel in which human rights are protected.
This year I was invited to light one of them, which I regard as a great honor. In some sense, I am representing both Amnesty International/Israel and the entire human rights community. I append what I chose to say as my lighting speech.





It was an extremely exhilarating and emotional experience for me. My friends from the Amnesty section showed up as well as my family, daughter, son in law and of course, my partner Yosefa. She took the above photograph of me lighting the beacon.

I was honored to share the stage with several representatives of important organizations and with human rights defenders and people who struggle against impunity of war criminals, for gender equality and for a just future for us and our neighbors, including Bassam Aramin and Michael Sfard.

Mr. Aramin is a founding member of Combatants for Peace, an organization of Israelis and Palestinians who are striving to end the conflict in which all of them have taken part. His ten year old daughter Abir was killed by Israeli soldiers a few years ago.

Mr. Sfard is a lawyer who has devoted great efforts to bringing Israeli army officers who bear responsibility for war crimes before the bar of justice both at home and abroad. He serves the organization Yesh Dinthat struggles for the defense of human rights in the occupied territories;

It is indeed a matter of pride to have been chosen to stand amongst them.

P.S. For the Hebrew readers among you I recommend the site, where I have a brief comment:

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