support israeli war resisters

This has been posted on Refusing To Kill Is Not A Crime and many other peace and military-resistance websites.

It's a letter written by Shministim, young Israelis who are refusing to take part in the Palestinian occupation.

First the letter, then, how you can help.
The Shministim Letter 2008

We, high-school graduate teens, declare that we shall work against the Israeli occupation and oppression policy in the occupied territories and the territories of Israel. Therefore we will refuse to take part of these actions, which are being done under our name as part of the IDF.

Our refusal comes first and foremost as a protest on the separation, control, oppression and killing policy held by the state of Israel in the occupied territories, as we understand that this oppression, killing and routing of hatred will never lead us to peace, and they are all contradictory to the basic values a society that pretends to be democratic should have.

All the members of this group believe in developing the value of social work. We are not refusing to serve the society we live in, but are protesting against the occupation and the ways of actions which the militaristic system holds as it is today - crushing civil rights, discriminating on a racial base and acting opposing international laws.

We oppose the actions taken in the name of the "defense" of the Israeli society (Checkpoints, targeted killing, apartheid roads - available for Jews only, curfews etc.) that serve the occupation and exploitation policy , annex more conquered territories to the State of Israel and tramples the rights of the Palestinian population in an aggressive manner. These actions serve as a band-aid covering a bleeding wound, and as a limited and temporary solution that will accelerate and aggravate the conflict further.

We expostulate the plundering and the theft of territories and source of income to the Palestinians in exchange to the expansion of the settlements, reasoning to defend Israeli territories. In addition, we oppose any transformation of Palestinian cities and villages to ghettos without minimal living conditions or income sources enclosed by the separation wall.

We also protest the humiliating and disrespectful behavior of the military forces towards Palestinians in the West Bank; violence towards demonstrators, public humiliations, arrests, destruction of property regardless to any safety or defense needs, all of which violate global human rights and international law.

The wall and blockades surround the Palestinian Territories and serve as a halter around the Palestinian’s neck. The soldiers who commit crimes under the patronage and protection of their commanders reflect the image of the Israeli society; a destructive and surprising society that is incapable of accepting its neighboring nation as a partner and not as an enemy.

In order to hold an effective dialogue between the two societies, we, the well-established and stronger society, have the responsibility of establishing and strengthening the other. Only with a more socially and financially established partner could we work towards peace rather than one-sided retaliation acts. Rather than supporting those citizens who have hope for peace, the military cast sanctions and pushes more and more people towards acts of extreme violence and escalation.

We hereby challenge every citizen who wonders if the military's policy in the occupied territories is conducive to the progression of the peace process, to discover by himself/herself the truth and to lift the veil which distorts the reality of the situation; to verify statistical data; to look for the humane side in him/her and in the society which stands in front of him/her, to disprove the myths that were routed within us regarding the necessity of the IDF's in the Palestinian Occupied Territories, and to stand up against every action which he finds irrational and illegal.

In a place were there are humans, there is someone to talk to. Therefore, we ask to create a dialogue that goes beyond the power struggle, the retaliation and one-sided attrition actions; to disprove the "No Partner" myth, which is leading to a lose-lose situation of an ongoing frustration, and to move to more humane methods.

We cannot hurt in the name of defense or imprison in the name of freedom; therefore we cannot be moral and serve the occupation.

Members of the Shministim Letter 2008

From Howard Zinn, writing on Sojourners.
I've been thinking a lot about courage. See that fresh-faced, bold young woman on the right? Her name is Raz Bar-David Varon. She's an 18-year-old Israeli who just graduated from 12th grade. And as I write this, she’s sitting in jail in Tel Aviv because she refuses to join the Israeli army.

In my day we called them the "refuseniks," and here in the U.S. they're "conscientious objectors." In Israel, they're still in high school and they are the Shministim. Get used to that word because I'm going to ask you to know it, to say it, to use it. You see, Raz Bar-David Varon and another dozen or so Shministim have asked us in the U.S. for our help, and this is one request we shouldn't refuse.

The Shministim — all about ages 17, 18, 19 and in the 12th grade — are taking a stand. They believe in a better, more peaceful future for themselves and for Israelis and Palestinians, and they are refusing to join the Israeli army. They're in jail, holding strong against immense pressure from family, friends, and the Israeli government. They need our support and they need it today.

They have asked people like us to let the Israeli government know we are watching and that we support their courage. They're hoping to receive hundreds of thousands of postcards to be delivered to the Israeli Ministry of Defense on December 18th, when they will hold a huge rally and press conference. They're hoping to stand strong on the steps of this majestic building — and on the steps of history — representing not only the thousands of refusers who came before them, not only the many young people to whom they are an example of a better world, but also to represent us. They have asked you, me, and every person who strives for peace to be on those steps with them, on that day. I will be there.

Will you join me? It's simple. Sign a letter now. And don't stop there — ask your loved ones to join you. During this season of giving, signing a letter is the least we can give to the courageous among us.

Raz is a Shministit. Raz is Courage. And with our support of her, you and I are Shministim too.

Now go sign that letter.

Please sign the letter, and circulate it. You can also the Facebook group to help spread the word.


Cornelia said...

I also hate that you're expected to see your family this time of year, whether you like your family or not.

What about Hell No, I won't go then? After all, we are no more children and we live in a free country and human rights are on the constitution and no holiday ever is gonna change that. So if one prefers not to attend family gatherings (and very often for ample reason), that is a personal choice, too, protected by the right to freedom and integrity. Why on earth should one subject oneself to something one doesn't want at all??? No problem if people don't mind attending family gatherings - some enjoy them, too and some get along very well with the other people there, so they have no problem with that - but if one knows he or she doesn't want to go there, I would recommend them to maintain their boundaries and not do anything they are not comfortable (worst case scenario in some cases even amounting to triggercity, bullying, sexism etc.!!!) with at all. Even if there are less people around, some boredom or getting some work done or whatever alternative (including answering surprised questions and holding firm and being on guard not to accept any emotional abuse, just in case) is preferable to anything under duress, in my opinion.

Cornelia said...

Just signed the letter, too!

deang said...

Glad to learn about this group, but there's one part that confuses me. I'm very sleepy right now and might be having a hard time making appropriate mental links, but sentence three of this post seems very incongruous here. If I'm missing something obvious about its relevance, I apologize, but I've looked at it several times and it just doesn't seem to fit.

laura k said...

I also hate that you're expected to see your family this time of year, whether you like your family or not.

OMG, how embarrassing! Thank you Dean!

I had this weird thing going on with my computer at work yesterday. Phrases in the clipboard were getting pasted in all over the place. It happened a few times in comments... then happened a few times in documents I was working on! For work. Legal documents. Not good.

Apparently something from comments in the Xmas thread got pasted into today's post. Then I "scheduled" it to run this morning, and didn't re-read it. Yikes!

Thank you!

Mod3Live said...

I've just bee listening to a fantastic podcast of Avraham Burg, author of "The Holocaust Is Over; The End Of Zionism Is Nigh". He is a former Knesset speaker and former head of the Jewish Agency Tikun Olam, a movement for universal spirituality.


It is definitely worth the time to listen and learn.

Unknown said...

hi all,

i'm glad to hear about this group. i think this is the only group which is able to take a concrete step in this occupation - directly inside from israel. i wonder if we can help you from istanbul on any issue

laura k said...

Hello Ishak, I agree that this is the only way towards peace - people refusing to make war.

You can certainly help by signing the letter and spreading the word among everyone you know. Other than that, I don't really know. But publicity is so important. The Shministim need a lot more visibility.