Palestinian lives matter – Israeli lives matter!

A Dialogue to Keep Hope Alive

Event with Palestinians, Israeli, Politicians, Activists in Vienna on 30th April 2024

‘How good it feels to be in here in Austria where there is nothing of the constant existential threat we face in Israel,’ as the Member of the Knesset Aida Tuma Sulemain put it, vividly conveying the daily challenge people in her homeland face in trying to live up to their own values while doing their political work and stand up to the deadly consequences of revenge on both sides. ‘We need your support!’ she said to the approximately 80 people gathered in the meeting hall of the Donaucity-Kirche adjacent to the United Nations building in Vienna.

On the eve of May Day around 100 participants had come together for a Dialogue for Peace in the Middle East under the slogan: ‘Palestinian Lives Matter! Israeli Lives Matter! Peace Now!’

The event was organised by Dialop Transversal Dialogue Project (whose focus is dialogue between Christians and Marxists), the Austrian Communist Party (KPÖ), the civil-society peace initiative Standing Together, along with the Palestinian-Israeli artists’ collective OneState Embassy, Vienna.

The evening’s aim was to point the way to a ceasefire and sustainable peace in the Middle East. Yitzhak Frankenthal, founder of an organisation of bereaved families, participated via zoom from Israel. After the kidnapping and murder of his son by Hamas in 1995 he resolved not to seek revenge but sought out other families who shared the same fate and with them founded the Parents’ Circle-Families Forum.

The Palestinian artist Osama Zatar and the Israeli musician Ruti Katz told of their personal experiences in Israel from the time of the Intifada up to the present, pointing out that they felt connected more than ever through their mourning for the victims, concern for their families, and the fate of their people in their homeland. For them, activism and art are crucial sources of strength.

The President of the Party of the European Left, Walter Baier, was impressed by the prevailing calm and reflective tone. He agreed that dialogue has to be nurtured, precisely in this situation. ‘At the same time we have to act passionately against injustice and listen to those who are struggling against it.’ The demands for an immediate ceasefire, the release of the hostages and a two-state solution were emphasised by Rainer Hackauf, one of the KPÖ’s federal spokespeople.

The event’s intensive discussion was interspersed by Yiddish workers’ songs performed by the Viennese Jewish singer Isabel Frey.

Wolfgang Palaver, the president of Pax Christi-Austria brought Ghandi and Mandela into the context of Gaza. Today, more than ever, there is, he stressed, need for decision-makers who, with personal commitment and great humanity lay out a path to peace. The speakers issued an insistent appeal to everyone to send clear messages to state actors and other policy-makers to accelerate the peace process.

Dialop 1.5.2024

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