Israeli Conscientious Objectors

This post is from Political Duo – and was written by my boyf, please visit and read some of his other posts.

‘The Shministim – all about ages 17, 18, 19 and in the 12th grade – are taking a stand. They believe in a better, more peaceful future for themselves and for Israelis and Palestinians, and they are refusing to join the Israeli army. They’re in jail, holding strong against immense pressure from family, friends and the Israeli government. They need our support and they need it today’ – Howard Zinn’s endorsement of the Shministim

These are stories of youths who have found their intellect and courage to resist the indoctrination and unjust laws of the Israeli state’s oppressive policies on the Occupied Territories.

Call them Refusniks, Conscientious Objectors or Shministim. Their message and vision is the same. All the more remarkable because at such an young age, they know that they can stop the Occupation by putting their bodies on the frontline. By engaging in non-violence. By refusing compulsory military service, which is responsible for perpetuating violence and preventing peaceful co-existence with the Palestinians.

Yuval Oron-Ofir, a 19 year old, who is sentenced to 14 days in military prison on 24 November, has this to say,

‘… I have been studying and learning about the occupation these past years, I feel its pains and as I do so I am becoming familiar with the ills of humankind. What I see is that with every additional day when Palestinians are kept by force on their lands, my country manages to crush one more value, one more rule…

… My conscience does not allow me to join an organization that demolishes, by fiat of the state, the homes of innocent people, kills children who are not part of the armed fighting, and which prevents sick people from getting due treatment. The army interferes with the freedom of movement, undermines human rights and robs people of their land because they are not Jews. Implementing government orders, the Israeli army brings oppression and terror upon three and a half million Palestinians’.

Raz Bar- David Varon who is currently serving two sentence equates the army as a ‘terror’ force:

‘I use the word terror because a soldier who:

· drops bombs on people in Gaza or on the West Bank from his fighter plane;

· demolishes homes;

· shoots at people and sows fear and enmity;

· enforces a tyrannical, undemocratic military regime;

· rules over (nearly) all aspects of the lives of three and a half million Palestinian men and women;

· stands guard at the army checkpoints which seriously limit Palestinians’ freedom of movement;

· enters people’s homes (with state permission) in order to conduct searches at any hour of the day or night;

· humiliates, at a whim and unsupervised, old people, children, men and women,

is indeed a terrorist, just like – if not more than – the Palestinian who blows himself up along with other people in a bus within the boundaries of the state called Israel’.

At least one Shministim comes from a respectable military family. This has not stopped her from being a refusnik. Omer Goldman is the daughter of the former deputy head of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service. Though her father disagrees with her daugher’s ideals, he supports her daughter’s action. After a visit to the West Bank, she wrote, ‘Like most of my peers, I too have not dared to question the ethics of the Israeli military. But when I visited the Occupied Territories I realized I see a completely different reality, a violent, oppressive, extreme reality that must be ended’. She has served two sentences.

Sahar, the third conscientious objector and the first woman to be imprisoned amongst this group was subject to solitary confinement for refusing to wear military uniforms during her detention. She understood the first-hand effects of Occupation – separation – when she visited a Palestinian village:

‘As a 12 year old who came to the village to replace the one inch water pipe pf the village to a 2 inch pipe, I did not understand the full meaning of the different colour of the ID, but I did understand the simple meaning: separation’.

She also questions the need for perpetuating violence in the Occupied Territories:

‘Many will say that sometimes violence is needed to prevent greater violence, but to thee people I will address two questions: the first is if we are really trying to prevent more violence or are we only trying to prevent violence toward ourselves by the use of more violence? The second question is if it is possible to prevent suffering by implementing it? Does it not stand in contradiction of itself? Did the use of violence and “counter-violence” by the human race throughout history end violence?’

And then there is Mia Tamarin who has served three sentences. In her declaration of refusal, she puts it succinctly, ‘I cannot become part of an organization the purpose of which is to fend off violence by violence, because it stands unequivocally contrary to everything I believe in and to my whole life’.

According to the campaign website, Shministim who refused to enlist can be drafted and imprisoned countless times.

You can now support these and more Shministim by sending an electronic message to the Israeli Minister of Defense before December 18th urging him to stop punitive measures against these non-violent activists.

Source, References & previous blog posts:

Human Rights Defenders – Shmintism in Israel


5 Responses

  1. Brave and moral people, you have to hugely respect them. It can’t be easy going against all the might and power of the Israeli military establishment who treat the Palestinians inhumanely, just as Jews themselves suffered under Nazi Germany. They’ve even got the Israel version of the Berlin Wall going up.

  2. What a great start. Now if we can just get some youngsters from the other side to take a similar stance there might be some progress.

  3. Did you actually read why they objected to serving James?

  4. “Brave and moral people, you have to hugely respect them”.


    I believe there is a substantial reservoir of compassion within the Jewish state for the plight of the Palestinians.

    That support is now less overt since I last saw polls that showed around 50% of the Jewish population expressing concern for the indigenous population, but that is hardly surprising considering the Nazi-like behaviour of the Israeli military in recent times.

    Bruno Bettleheim, a survivor of Dachau (and a psychiatrist), identified a distasteful side to human nature that he labelled “internalising the aggressor” where the persecuted bizarrly adopted the mannerisms of their persecutors ( eg stitching swastikas to their prison garb and strutting about)

    I have always thought it both ironic and tragic that it would be a Jewish survivor of a Nazi concentration camp who would give a name to such behaviour, and the emergent Jewish state, spawned in the ashes of that tragedy, would give it full-blown expression in its presecution of the Palestinians.

  5. The whole Israeli Palestinians struggle will one day end and it will be because of the VERY brave people here…..

    I take off my hate to you and salute your courage… you are the true courageous people…

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