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."
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.
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)