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Archive for the ‘refusniks’ Category

Political Prosecution of Yesh Gvul

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Yesh Gvul is “an Israeli peace group campaigning against the occupation by backing soldiers who refuse duties of a repressive or aggressive nature”. Yesh Gvul grew out of the first Lebanon war protest. They are one of the longest standing organisations supporting refuseniks, and they supported me before and during my term in prison.

The new Israeli government has decided to crack down on refusenik organisations. As part of this campaign, the leaders of Yesh Gvul are being investigated for “incitement” charges. Here’s the latest update from Peretz Kidron:

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Peretz Kidron

As the investigation proceeds, it becomes increasingly evident that it is politically driven.  The interrogators insist on posing repetitive questions about YG’s alleged attempts to “incite to evasion of military service” and the supposed “monetary benefits” offered to that end.
The absurd nature of the charges is striking:
1. all active YG members without exception have themselves completed full military service (+annual reserve duty);
2. YG has never entertained any reservations as to military service as such;
3. No YG publication of any kind – print or electronic – has ever supported evasion of service;
4. and of course, in view of the above, YG has never had any motive or reason to offer financial incentives towards a purpose it has never supported.
As all these points become evident within five minutes of questioning, the fact that the police persist in chasing these trumped up charges indicates clearly that they are operating on orders from above, from the political echelons, with the intention of intimidating us and forcing us  to curtail our campaign.
We shall see how long  the charade can go on.
But in the meantime, we continue with our work as usual.
Best wishes,


Written by yishaym

July 5, 2009 at 5:38 pm

Over? We haven’t even started

with 6 comments

Only 30 hours after British intellectuals issue their ultimatum, Israel’s unilateral cease fire comes into effect. See David? We told you – these Israelis, they only understand one language.

So what now? Nothing. Gaza is still in ruins, its hospitals full of wounded. Israeli kids are still afraid to sleep. But the European left can sleep well tonight, and tomorrow return to contemplate the state of its holiday homes.

The last three weeks have been soaked in pain, anger and sadness. I am horrified by the pictures from Gaza and the cold facts of the carnage. I share the distress of families in southern Israel who live in constant fear. I make no comparison. Both are unacceptable. I am angry at the Israeli government for choosing a path of violence, and angry at the Hamas for leading the way to this path. This was a was on two peoples, conducted by two armies. The military actions of the Israeli government provided its citizens no more security than the absurd provocations of the Hamas provided its people dignity. I am sad for my friends, family and countrymen, who are blinded by fear and anger, to a point that then become numb to the pain of others.

But when it comes to the reactions I see around me, I am bemused and frustrated. Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised, in smaller portions, I’ve seen it all before. Some call it anti-semitism. I won’t even grant them this halo. No, here wearing a Kaffiah is a fashion statement, and so is boycotting Israeli goods. You know what? I’m just bloody sick of it. Sick of hearing about pro-Israeli vs. pro-Palestinian, sick of hearing “like we did with South Africa”, sick of hearing the rape of language, the intolerable ease with which frightful words are casually scattered like guji berries on your morning yoghurt. Words which should be reserved for the worst events in history. Rwanda was a genocide. Srebrenica was a massacre, as was Sabra and Shatilla.

Let me spell it out. There is no “us” and “them”, there are those who want to live, and those who want to kill. If you really care, help the people doing good on the ground. All your chanting and picketing doesn’t twitch a single donkey’s hair in the middle east. It hasn’t saved the life of a single child. Hamas will still do what it thinks it should, and so will the Israeli government. I’ll let you in on a secret: you didn’t topple Apartheid either: De Klerk and Mandella did it. All your fancy petitions and demonstrations serve one purpose: to make you feel better about yourself, allow you to feel morally superior. Fuck that. Save the money you spend on your post-demo cappuccino, and donate it to one of these. Or pay for them to publish a half-page ad in the guardian in place of your righteous hate banter.







Matan Israeli, 21 days in prison for refusing

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Matan Israeli has been sentenced on Tuesday 13/5/08 to 21 days in prison for refusing to serve in the Ramallah area (OT).
Matan, 28 years old, lives in west Jerusalem and studies art at the Bezalel academy. He also works at the Museum On The Seam in Jerusalem, a gallery dedicated to “contemporary art that deals with different aspects of the socio-political reality”.
Please email your letters of support to:
“yesh gvul” <yeshgvul2001@yahoo.com>,
Or send directly to:
Matan Israeli
Military Number 6411305
Prison 6
If sending from abroad, email is better.
(Source: Yesh Gvul)

Written by yishaym

May 17, 2008 at 1:53 pm

resurected text

with 4 comments

A sort-of chat I’m having with Jez on his blog led me to dig up this post from my old place.

{Friday, March 12, 2004}

Here’s my notes for tonight’s PayDay event

    In a way, I do not fit the title of this evening. I have been a soldier and commander in combat units of the Israeli army for 15 years – 3.5 years of regular army, and the rest in reserve army. Being a reserve infantry soldier means you get called to serve for about a month each year. 9 out of 10 times, this means enforcing Israeli rule in the occupied territories. I have always opposed the occupation, and fought against it. At the same time, I have always considered it my duty to perform whatever service I was called to. I still do, but my calling has changed.

    My refusal is an act of civil disobedience. It is conditional on circumstances, time and place. It is a complex position, and to explain it, I would need to explain how I view the current state of the conflict. To do that, I would have to start at the beginning – about 150 years ago. Obviously, a tough task for an 8 minute talk. Instead, I will try to share my personal experiences with you. I hope that these will provoke your questions.

    There are 4 refuser groups in Israel, with nearly 1,500 members, men and women, officers, soldiers, elite fighters, draftees and veterans. Since the outbreak of the second Intifada hundreds have been imprisoned for refusal, for terms ranging from 14 to 500 days. Each of these men and women walked his own, untrod trail. I cannot speak for all of them. I can say that my own decision was not driven by the fear that I, or my fellow commanders, might commit crimes. I have done things which you might question, but I have no remorse. I have complete confidence in my commanders and peers that they do only what they believe is necessary to protect lives, and they do it with the utmost decency.

    The problem is the occupation itself. As long as it exists, the things we have do to protect lives will be cruel and unjust. A state of the oppression is destructive, physically and morally, both to the oppressed and to the oppressor. I see the relations between me and my government as a “civil contract”: I do what is necessary in the circumstances, the state does what is necessary to change them. Loosing the belief that governmentent is doing its best to end the occupation meant loosing the moral justification for my participation in it.

    But first, the news.

    After 4 years of struggle, 1.5 of them in prison, Yoni Ben Artzi has finally been exempted from Military service. Half a year before his projected draft date, Yoni notified the army that his conviction in pacifism does not permit him to serve. To this day, the army has refused to respect his declaration. The letter he had received a fortnight ago states that he is released on account of – check this out – lack of motivation. I defy anyone to claim that the IDF lacks a sense of Humor.

    Currently imprisoned for refusal are: Haggai Matar, Adam Maor, Noam Bahat, Matan Kaminer, Shimri Zameret, Inbar Gelbert, Maor Persai and Uri Fein. The first 5 are unconditional conscientious objectors. They have already server between 360 and 500 days in prison, and have recently been sentenced to another year. Inbal is a young woman who has accumulated over 40 days in prison for refusing draft. Maor and Uri are conditional refusers like me; they are serving their second term in prison. Liora Millo is expected to join them any day. LioraÂ’s appeal to the conscientious objectors committee has been rejected on account of her being a conditional refuser. She has already served 14 days in prison, and her case is currently held before the Supreme Court.

    These men and woman need your support. I’m sure you will all sign the petitions, donate, lobby etc. I wanted to ask you to do one small thing tonight: write one of them a letter, tell him or her that your heart is with them. I know it meant a lot to me, I’m sure it does to them.

    Now to my story.

    On 20 March, 2002 I was sentenced to 28 days in military prison for refusing to serve in the occupied territories.

    As I’ve mentioned, I had served for 3.5 years in regular army and another 12 in reserve, as a soldier and commander in combat units. A large part of my service had been in the Gaza and West Bank areas. About three years ago my regiment participated in the siege of Kalkilia. It was probably then that my stance began to shift. Several events that occurred in the following months persuaded me to do what many of my friends do: evade service. The next time I was called, I organized a “business trip” abroad.

    However, after my return I realized that what we often call “grey refusal” is not the right way for me. It is not my habit to lie to friends, and my army mates are among my best friends.

    It was at that point that I started seriously considering refusal. I knew that it was a matter of 6-12 months before I am called to service again, and that most chances are that my unit will again be sent to the occupied territories. But the way to refusal is long. There were 5 great mountains I had to surmount.

    The first, perhaps most banal, is mt. norm. Though I had my wild years (long hair, mind altering substances and all) most of my life has been conducted in the heart of “normality”. I have been living happily with the same woman since the age of 21. This woman happens to be the mother of my two children, and my wife as well. I work an ordinary job, drive an ordinary car, see ordinary movies. It’s surprising how hard it is to step out of this golden cage and do something quite extraordinary.

    The second summit to traverse is that of mt. “what will they say”. Your friends, family, co-workers, the grocer. Mind you, I come from a country were the bus driver tells you its time for a haircut. ItÂ’s also a very patriotic country. People live in constant sense of threat, and the notion of one’s obligation to defend his country is commonplace.

    The next big rock one hits is economic. Quite simply, refusing cost me a month’s salary. Having a wife and two children to provide for, that is not something to take lightly. Furthermore, it could count for unjustified absence – in which case it is a legal clause for termination of contract.

    But all these are mere hills when you reach mt. loyalty. I’m not talking about love for your king and country. I’m not talking about obligation to the democratic system and its laws. Those exist, but I cannot believe anyone who says he is willing to kill himself, or others, for those noble causes. For most men, the only power strong enough to make them rise to battle is seeing their mates alongside. In refusing to serve I was deserting – not the army, but my friends. Friends who have walked shoulder to shoulder with me up some very dark paths. Friends who have stood back to back with me in some very tight spots. Friends who I would protect with my life, and they would protect mine with theirs. They were going to the hell of Gaza, and I to the safety of prison. What if one of my mates gets the bullet that had my name written on it?

    It took me nearly half a year, but in the end I ascended the summits of all these mountains, and reached the plateau beyond. At that point I called my company commander and asked if I could pay him a visit. I came to his home one day, just as his young son was on his way to bed. We talked – about work, studies, education, football. And then I told him that I will not join the regiment in our planned service in Gaza. For two hours he tried to convince me to change my mind. I’ll never forget his words: “I’ll always love and appreciate you as a person, but I think you are doing a despicable deed, pretty damn close to treason”.

    After that he arranged for me to meet my battalion commander. Again, I spent a long evening with him. He raised some very hard questions – most of them I have been through, but some were new. “Most officers and commanders in the battalion are as left wing as you are. They all think the occupation is atrocious, hopeless and wrong. Still, they believe that their effect is greater in being there, and assuring decent human conduct. What influence do you think your refusal will have? Who will be impressed by it? On the other hand, in a few years we will be called to forcibly remove settlements. What will you say to right-wing soldiers that will refuse then?”

    I told him that the most I can promise is to go home and think about his words. And I did. It was then that I found myself at the feet of the most treacherous mountain of them all: mt. doubt. how can I know that I am doing the right thing? What if history will prove me wrong? What if no one will notice? What if it is true that we are facing a nation who’s only desire is our destruction? What if, given enough time, I would see things differently?

    There is only one way over this peak: you don’t know what’s right. You feel it.

    For me the way to go about it was to ask myself, what would I be comfortable explaining to my 5 year old son. I realized that I have no problem telling him that I’m going to prison for refusal. I will have a hard time expelling some of the things I did in the occupied territories.

    After three days I called my commanders and told them that my decision is firm. We agreed on the screenplay from there on: I would report with my battalion as usual, do the short training with everyone, and when the busses load for Gaza, I will stand trial.

    On 20 March, 2002 my battalion commander court-martialled me for inappropriate conduct. He found me guilty, and sentenced me to 28 days in prison. On the 21st I woke up in military prison 6, and I knew I was a free man – free as I have never been before.

Written by yishaym

August 4, 2007 at 1:23 am


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Itzik Shabbat, from Shderot, is the first refusnik of this round of madness:

“I know people will attack me and ask how could I not take part in this war when Qassams are falling on my hometown and Katyushas on the towns in the north,” he told Haaretz. “In my opinion, only this type of opposition that I’ve chosen will put an end to the madness that is going on now and will shatter the false feeling that the entire home front supports this unnecessary war that is based on deceptive considerations.” He added: “Someone has to be the first to break the silence and it will be me. It is a shame that my order was signed by another Sderot resident, Defense Minister Amir Peretz.”

I’ll sleep a little better tonight.

Written by yishaym

July 20, 2006 at 2:50 am

bright tal on Idan Halili

with 3 comments

Bright Tal, pointed as ever, has posted this picture of Idan Halili, who refused to enlist for femenist reasons.

 Read the text.

In case you’re wondering. Military service is compulsery in Israel for both men and women. Women are required to serve 2 years. However, religious or married women are exempt.

Written by yishaym

November 17, 2005 at 2:43 am

dawn yang naked pictures

with 3 comments

November 15, 2005

Dear supporter of the Israeli refuser movements,

New Profile has issued the following request for your action on behalf of Idan Halili, the first woman CO in Israel to publicly claim the right to resist mandatory military service, on grounds of her feminist beliefs and conscience. Please take a few moments to read about Idan and her situation, and then take action on her behalf.

Warm regards,

The RSN Board of Directors: Oskar Castro, Steven Feuerstein, Paul Kaldjian, Judith Kolokoff, James M. Leas, David Levy, Cathy Schneider, Rabbi Laurie Zimmerman

From New Profile

The army has denied Idan’s request for a hearing before the military “conscience committee?, authorized to grant or deny conscientious exemptions from service. In all probability, Idan Halili will be imprisoned tomorrow upon reporting to the induction base and resisting the draft as a feminist conscientious objector.

Idan, a 19 year old Jewish Israeli woman, has written the following statement to authorities:

“A strongly patriarchal institution, like the army, underlines female marginality, on the one hand, and the superiority of male-identified values on the other. … It might be said that a mood of sexual harassment is endemic to a patriarchal and hierarchical organization like the army. And so the demand that a woman enlist is tantamount to demanding that she cope with sexual harassment within an environment that encourages such harassment. Moreover, since the army is such a central institution in society, a culture of sexual harassment also is exported to and further entrenched in civic society. … I as a feminist, feel I must avoid military service and act to limit and reduce the influence of the army on civic society. … When men spend a formative period of their lives in the military they are likely to receive positive reinforcements for the use of brute power and violence, and to develop an indifferent attitude to the use of “mild” forms of violence … In an organization whose main values include superiority and control, these behaviors are likely to be encouraged in the specific professional (military) activities, but also in interpersonal relations … I cannot join an organization which, either directly or indirectly, encourages violence – of any form and kind – against women. There is, hence, a contradiction between my being a feminist and my ability to enlist. … Army service would impose a way of life on me that is deeply contrary to my values and moral beliefs. … I cannot live in such flagrant denial of my conscience …”

New Profile, the High School Seniors, the Feminist Women’s House and the Refusers’ Parents’ Forum call on Israeli authorities to uphold Idan Halili’s human right to freedom of feminist conscience. Tomorrow, Tuesday November 15th, at 8:30 AM, we will accompany Idan to the main induction base to demonstrate our support of her right to refuse.

We call on feminist, anti-militarist and anti-war groups and individuals, in Israel and abroad, to join us in demanding that Israel recognize feminist conscience. We appreciate your support for this effort, whether financial or through action.

Please address your letters, emails or (preferably) faxes to:

Mr. Shaul Mofaz, E-mail: sar@mod.gov.il or pniot@mod.gov.il
Minister of Defence, Fax: ++972-3-696-27-57 / ++972-3-691-69-40
Ministry of Defence,
37 Kaplan St.,
Tel-Aviv 61909, Israel

Chief Military Attorney
Military postal code 9605, IDF
Fax: ++972-3-569-43-70

Commander of Induction Base,
Baqum, Tel-HaShomer
Military Postal Code 02718, IDF
Fax: ++972-3-737-60-52

Checks supporting this campaign can be mailed to: New Profile, POBox 3454, Ramat Hasharon 47100, Israel

Tax-exempt donations can be made in the U.S. through the Refusers’ Solidarity Network at http://www.refusersolidarity.net. To make a credit card donation, click on Donate Now and be sure to select New Profile as the RSN Project.


Written by yishaym

November 16, 2005 at 1:26 pm