Israeli Students Refuse to Serve the Occupation
In the spring of 2008, a group of high school seniors followed
in the tradition of earlier teenaged Israeli conscientious objectors
(traditionally referred to as the shministim) and publicly
declared their refusal to serve in the Israeli Defense Force as
required by law. Four women COs, signatories of the 2008 high school seniors' refusal letter,
have been sentenced to brief prison terms this fall, and may face
further punishment. Others will be sentenced soon. For updates,
visit the campaign's Facebook page (search for "shministim")
or visit www.gush-shalom.org. The letter is reprinted here.
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 Israeli Defense Force.
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 hatred will never lead us to peace.
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 trample 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 denounce the plundering and the theft of territories and sources of income to the Palestinians. 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 soldiers who commit crimes under the patronage and protection of their commanders reflect the image of the Israeli society; a destructive 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 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 for themselves the truth and to lift the veil which distorts the reality of the situation... and to stand up against every action which is irrational and illegal.
In a place where 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 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.