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Monday, January 8, 2007

Support Israeli Refusniks

The below article comes from the American Friend's Service Committee (Quakers who as a matter of faith, ALWAYS support peace)

Support Israeli Conscientious Objectors

Support for peace and nonviolence are two pillars on which the AFSC is built. The Service Committee was founded in 1917 to provide alternative service for young men in the U.S. who were conscientious objectors during World War I. Opposition to war and violence has continued through succeeding conflicts to the current day.

During every conflict AFSC has provided advice and/or support to those seeking to be conscientious objectors. The commitment to the value of peace over violence is based on the Quaker Declaration of 1660 that states: "We utterly deny all outward wars and strife, and fightings (sic) with outward weapons, for any end, or under any pretense whatsoever. And this is our testimony to the whole world."

Shministim protest
Shministim protest against the imprisonment of an Israeli refuser. The posters feature a quote from Henry David Thoreau - "Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a
just man is also a prison."
Photo: Activestills

Within Israel, there has been a movement to refuse military service for reasons of conscientious since 1982, and this movement has continued to grow today. The Shministim, a movement of Israeli high school students who have stated their intention to refuse service in the Israeli military, is one especially important part of this movement. The Shministim ground their refusal in rejection of the militarism of Israeli society, and not specific practices of the military. In March, 2005 250 Israeli high school students signed the Shministim letter addressed to the Israeli Prime Minister and other high ranking Israeli officials. The letter outlined their reasons for refusing military service.

The AFSC is now working to create an international solidarity network for Israeli conscientious objectors. The AFSC has organized speaking tours for Israeli conscientious objectors and helped build connections between Israeli refusers and U.S. veterans from the war in Iraq who are challenging U.S. foreign policy. In addition, the AFSC organized an internship program for Palestinian and Israeli youth activists to work in AFSC offices in the United States. Several members of the Shministim took part in this program and gained exposure to AFSC's work and anti-militarism work being done in the U.S.

AFSC supports the right of individuals to exercise their conscience and applauds the efforts of these young people to challenge their government's policies through peaceful means. Portions of the testimonies below include statements that we would not make based on general Quaker practice and expression. However, we believe it is important to share these testimonies in their own language and for others to hear these voices raised in support of peace.

Below are some profiles of members of the Shministim. These are the words of young Israelis who are facing one of the most important decisions in their life - whether or not to participate in one of the most respected and revered institutions in Israeli society. In addition to the possibility of being sent the jail, the decision to refuse is one that can carry personal and professional consequences for years to come.

Omri Evron

Omri Evron, I refuse to serve in the army because I am faithful to the moral principles in which I believe. My refusal to enlist is a protest against the longstanding military occupation of the Palestinian people, an occupation that deepens and entrenches the hatred and terror between peoples. More>

Lior Volynitz

Lior Volynitz, By refusing I am sending a message to other soldiers and future conscripts. I would like them to know that there is another way. My message is also addressed to all the people who have suffered from Israel’s policy. I would like them to know that there are Israelis who are different. I sincerely hope that in doing this I will contribute, if only in a small way, towards making Israeli society more just and peace loving. More>

Yael Greenvald-Drier

Yael Greenvald-Drier, I oppose the militarization of Israeli society, which takes us on the fast track to fascism. Soon, I will get a letter from the army asking me to come begin the paperwork regarding my induction. After I get the letter I will send a letter to the army asking them to release me for conscience reasons. There is a chance that if I refuse to be drafted I will go to jail. More >

Michal Stoler

Michal Stoler, I am currently part of a new group of high school students who refuse to serve the occupation. We are the new generation of 'Shministim' [this means high school senior in Hebrew]. More >

Shaul Mograbi-Berger

Shaul Mograbi-Berger, I am refusing service in the Israeli military because I can't take part in the Israeli occupation of Palestine . I don't want to serve in an occupying army. I also strongly believe in pacifism. More >

Alex Cohn

Alex Cohn, In the next few months I will be recruited by the army. When that day comes I'll simply say that I see the rule that forces me to join the occupation army as an unjust and immoral, and therefore I will not go. I'll probably be punished by being sent to jail. Meanwhile, I am active in a youth refusal movement and working to advance the idea of refusing to serve the occupation. More >

Rotem Mor

Rotem Mor, an Israeli AFSC staff person based in Jerusalem who has served a prison term for his decision to conscientiously object to military service. He now works to support the growing conscientious objectors movement in Israel.
More >

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