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Leon Rosselson, letter to the Guardian, 28 July 2014

“Before the current round of violence, the West Bank had been relatively quiet for years,” writes Jonathan Freedland (Israel’s fears are real, but this war is utterly self-defeating, 26 July). According to B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights centre, 90 West Bank Palestinians were killed, 16 of them children, by the IDF or by settlers between January 2009 and May 2014. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, there have been 2,100 settler attacks since 2006, involving beatings, shootings, vandalising schools, homes, mosques, churches and destroying olive groves. According to Amnesty International, between January 2011 and December 2013, Israeli violence resulted in injuries to 1,500 Palestinian children. “Relatively quiet” for whom?
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Posts

I, Palestinian Druze, refuse your army and all violence

I’m Omar Saad and I will not be a soldier in your army

By Abir Kopty
October 27, 2012

Omar Saad, a young (Druze) Palestinian musician from the Galilee village of al-Mughar has received a summons to the Israeli enlistment army. The Druze citizens of Israel have been forced to enlist in the Israeli military since 1956 when conscription law applied to Druze men (not to other Palestinians). Recent studies show that two thirds of Druze youth would not enlist in the Israeli military if given the choice.

Omar is one of the many Druze youth who refuse to serve in the Israeli military. In his letter below (which I translated from Arabic), he says it all:

To the Israeli Prime Minister,
To the “Defense Minister”,
Subject: refusal to appear for compulsory military recruitment.

I’m the undersigned, Omar Zahr Eldin Mohammad Saad from the village of Mughar – Galilee, have received a notice to appear in the military recruitment offices on 31.10.2012 to conduct tests according to the conscription law imposed on the Druze community. I would like to make the following points:

I refuse to appear for tests, because I oppose the law of conscription imposed on my Druze community. I refuse because I am a man of peace and I hate all forms of violence, and the military institution represents for me the peak of physical and psychological violence. Since I received the notice to appear for tests, my life has changed, I became more nervous, my thoughts were distracted, I remembered thousands of cruel images, and I couldn’t imagine myself wearing military uniform and participating in the suppression of my Palestinian people or fighting my Arab brothers. I oppose the recruitment to the Israeli military and any other military for conscience and nationalistic reasons. I hate the injustice and oppose the occupation; I hate intolerance and restriction of freedoms. I hate those who detain children, the elderly and women.

I am a musician, I play the Viola , I have played in many places, I have musician friends from Ramallah, Jericho, Jerusalem, Hebron, Nablus, Jenin, Shfa’amr, Eilabun, Rome, Athens, Amman, Beirut, Damascus, Oslo, and we all play for freedom, humanity and peace, our weapon is the music and we shall not have any other weapon.

I am from a community that was unjustly treated by an unjust law, how can we fight our relatives in Palestine, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon? How can I hold arms against my brothers and people in Palestine? How can I be a soldier standing at Qalandia checkpoint or any other checkpoint, after I experienced the injustices at these checkpoints? How can I prevent someone from Ramallah to visit his city, Jerusalem? How can I guard the apartheid wall? How can I be a jailer to my own people while I know that the majority of prisoners are freedom prisoners and seekers of rights and freedom?

I play for joy, for freedom, for a just peace based on halting settlements, the end of the occupation in Palestine, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem its capital, the release of all prisoners in prisons and the return of displaced refugees to their homes.

Many of the youth from my community have done the compulsory service in the army, what have we received? Discrimination in all areas, our villages are the poorest, our lands were confiscated, there are no master plans, and no industrial zones. Percentages of university graduates in our villages of the lowest in the region, the unemployment rates in our villages are the highest. This mandatory law has kept us away from our Arab connection.

This year, I will finish high school, and I seek to complete my university education. I’m sure you will try to make me concede my human ambition, but I announce it loudly:
I, Omar Zahr Eldin Mohammad Saad, will not be the fuel to the fire of your war, and will not be a soldier in your army .

Signature: Omar Saad

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