Israel's young conscientious objectors (shministim) tell why they refuse to serve in an army that occupies ``another people'', the Palestinians. From http://www.December18th.org.
Young Israeli `refusenik' soldiers and reservists protest the Gaza assault, January 8, 2009, Tel Aviv. From Social TV (http://www.tv.social.org.il/)
Click HERE for earlier statements by Israeli opponents of Israel's inhuman assault on Gaza.
Solidarity with refusers
By Adam Keller
Gush Shalom -- January 8, 2009 -- Courage to Refuse has resumed its activity after several years and asked everybody to join them in picketing the Ministry of Defence. Courage to Refuse was founded in 2002, by reservists such as paratrooper officer David Zonshein, sickened and disgusted by the things they had seen (and took part in) during the army's efforts to put down the second Intifada. At that time they had a considerable impact, and their call upon reservists to refuse serving the occupation worried the military authorities. But like other groups they were effectively derailed by Sharon's Gaza trick, which placed on the Israeli public a unilateral and woefully incomplete "Disengagement".
The beginning of the "Cast Lead" war in Gaza -– and specifically, the calling up of an increasing number of reservists, being massed at the Gaza Strip borders in preparation to be thrown in -- aroused Courage to Refuse back into action. Some of the activists themselves got call-up orders, and they got urgent calls from many others who were called up and were far from eager to comply. At least three reservists are known to have informed their officers of their outright refusal to go into Gaza, and many others have resorted to various means of "grey refusal" to avoid it.
For their part, the Courage to Refuse organisers drew up a new manifesto on which they are busily collecting the signatures of reservists, both those who were involved before and those were not (see below).
A call was issued for a demonstration outside the Ministry of Defence on January 8: "Once again we feel the need to call upon reservists and conscripts to refuse taking part in the brutal killing perpetrated by the Israeli Defence Force in Gaza. The terrible bombing of the UNRWA school in Jabalya Refugee Camp, in which Israeli forces killed more than forty Palestinian civilians in a single moment, increased our determination to act -– coming after hundreds of civilians killed earlier, including many women and children. A killing perpetrated under the pretext of security, under the Blue and White Flag, and in the name of every citizen of Israel. A killing which must not be allowed to continue!"
Members of other groups, such as ourselves of Gush Shalom, were welcomed to join in, but with a caution: "Without in any way detracting from the importance of earlier demonstrations against the war, in order to make an effective appeal to reservists we should use a bit different language than of the slogans used in these. To restrain our anger, however justified, and moderate our narrative. Not to call the Minister of Defence `A murderer' nor term the IDF `a terrorist organisation' (even when at times speaking in this way seems right) but focus on the pure moral call upon soldiers to preserve the 'purity' of their arms and refuse to take part in this madness."
We "radicals" who joined the January 8 action respected the organisers' wishes. The slogans prepared by Courage to Refuse included "Revenge is not security", "Refuse to take part in the in the campaign of bloodshed", "No to the killing of civilians –- in Gaza and Sderot", "Barak creates terror in Gaza", "Refuse to fight in Gaza" (this Hebrew slogan can also be translated as "Refuse to fight against Gaza"), "Refuse to destroy Gaza and Sderot", "The destruction of Gaza produces terror", "Courage to talk -- not to kill". Some of placards had the national Star of David inscribed beside the slogan –- which is far from the rule in other anti-war protests. Even so, the call upon soldiders to refuse orders made it very radical confrontation with the present warlike atmosphere prevailing in the Israeli media and political system.
What next? So far, the military authorities refrained from imprisoning any of the refusing reservists, knowing from the earlier confrontations that any imprisoned refuser would become a focus of solidarity actions from which the movement could grow and snowball. However, the Courage to Refuse organisers now contemplate a sharper action -– i.e., going southwards to the Gaza Strip border, where the army concentrated the already mobilised thousands of reservists who might any day be sent into Gaza, with the government bent on escalating the war in defiance of the Security Council cease-fire resolution. The military authorities might find it impossible to ignore and tacitly tolerate the presence of agitators busily "subverting the troops".
The Gaza Refusal Manifesto
We, soldiers and officers of the IDF
To whom the security and future are dear
Who understand that the attack in Gaza intensifies the conflict, will bring additional long years of missiles upon growing circles of the Israeli population, and brings terrible disasters upon the peoples in Israel and Palestine alike.
We understand that revenge is not security and that the IDF operation in Gaza perpetuates the conflict, and certainly does not help its solution.
In light of the above, we hereby declare that we will not take part in the campaign of destruction in Gaza.
Noam Livneh +972-522-754528
David Zunshein +972-545-656760
Arik Diamant +972-522-754528
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