Thousands demand end to war at Israeli-Palestinian peace conference

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Thousands demand end to war at Israeli-Palestinian peace conference

The speakers ranged from people who lost loved ones on October 7, to world-renowned historian Prof. Yuval Noah Harari, as well as Palestinians from the West Bank

Peace conference in Tel Aviv, 1 July 2024. Courtesy: "Standing Together"/X
Peace conference in Tel Aviv, 1 July 2024. Courtesy: "Standing Together"/X

Thousands of Israelis and Palestinians gathered for a peace conference in Tel Aviv earlier this week, calling for an end to the war between Israel and Hamas. 

The event, titled “Its Time: The Great Peace Conference”, was held at Tel Aviv’s Menora Mivtachim Arena on Monday, with a large screen reading: “It’s time to reach a deal. To stop the war. To make peace.”

The speakers ranged from people who lost loved ones on October 7, to world-renowned historian Prof. Yuval Noah Harari, as well as Palestinians from the West Bank.

“On my journey, I learned that hope isn’t something you lose, or something you find, or something that you wait for until it finds you. Hope is something you make,” Maoz Inon, whose parents were killed in the Hamas-led massacre on October 7, said in his speech at the rally.

David Davidi-Brown, Chief Executive of New Israel Fund UK, told Jewish News how moving it was to be together with thousands of Israelis, Jewish and Palestinian citizens, “including those who have lost loved ones to the Hamas attacks and ensuing war in Gaza.”

“Alongside many New Israel Fund partners and longstanding advocates of peace, there were plenty of new people at the event – younger leaders, faith leaders, and politicians. They might not agree on everything, but they all see the urgent need for finding a different way forward from the horrors of war to a safer shared future.”

“I was inspired by the many younger leaders taking responsibility to “create an alternative where both peoples have security and peace” and “to end the cycle of bloodshed because we understand that our destiny is in our hands. The event ended with a rousing performance of ‘Shir laShalom’.”

Davidi-Brown said his earliest memories of that song were the days following the assassination of Yitzak Rabin.

“The history of this conflict is filled with painful moments, yet also surprising turning points. Six years after the Yom Kippur war, Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty. Hearing this song of peace again and seeing the renewal of a broader larger peace camp, perhaps this can be one of those moments where the situation turns again towards a more hopeful, peaceful and secure future,” he said.

Yachad’s Danielle Betts told Jewish News that it was “heartening to see so many people – Israelis and Palestinians of diverse backgrounds – come together to say enough to endless wars and to call for a peace process. Creating hope is crucial. We must make people believe that living in safety and security is possible, and that it’s worth fighting for. I was particularly pleased to see Naama Lazimi and Gilad Kariv, two Labor MKs, call for an end to the war, release of all hostages, and a political process for a long term resolution. This is exactly what Yachad has been advocating for.”

Prof. Harari, who has spoken at demonstrations against the Netanyahu government the past year, said “war isn’t a law of nature – it is a human choice.”

“And at any moment, it is possible to make a different choice, and start to make peace. True, we have tried to make peace in the past, and we weren’t good at it. So what? We haven’t been that good at making war, either, which doesn’t prevent us from making another one, and another one. All these wars have led us to the abyss. It’s time to give peace another chance,”  he added.

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