Refuser Solidarity Network Newsletter – August 2009
This newsletter, from the American solidarity network, provides a wide-ranging update on the activities of all refusenik groups in Israel – Yesh Gvul, Courage to Refuse, the Shministim, New Profile, Combatants for Peace, Breaking the Silence – and related stories.
The August 2009 RSN newsletter includes updates from the organizations we support, as well as links to current activities by military Refusers in Israel/Palestine, Europe and North America. A number of these stories have appeared on RSN’s website.
WHO WE ARE: The Refuser Solidarity Network (RSN) was formed in April of 2002 to provide support for the growing Refuser Movement in Israel. The initial impetus for the establishment of the RSN was the publication in January 2002 of the Combatants Letter by a group of 52 reserve officers, which later became Ometz Le’sarev or Courage to Refuse. RSN now supports Combatants for Peace, Yesh G’vul, the Shiministim, New Profile and other Israeli organizations advocating peaceful conflict resolution in Israel/Palestine and working to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories seized in 1967. A 501(c)3 charitable organization, RSN makes grants to refuser groups to support their work financially. RSN is funded entirely by contributions from individuals in the U.S. and around the world. Our mission statement is as follows:
RSN builds support for, seeks to increase the visibility of, and educates the public about the Israeli refuser movements, with the objective of working together with refusers to end Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.
To learn more about RSN, visit our website.
ASSAULT ON HAGGAI MATAR
Born and raised in a Tel Aviv suburb, Matar refused enlistment to the Israeli army as part of the ‘Shministim” (“Seniors”) movement against the occupation in 2002. Along with four other friends from the group he was put on court martial, and at the end of a high-profile trial was sentenced to two years in prison. Just before going to prison, he went on a very successful tour in the U.S. sponsored by RSN. Many of you reading this newsletter probably met Haggai or heard him speak.
Since his release Matar has become involved in “New Profile” and “Anarchists against the Wall”, and also joined several class-based struggles within Israel. Matar now works for the Tel Aviv local weekly Ha’ir, of the Ha’aretz group, and is soon to become a BA in General Social Studies at the Open University. As an active supporter of the rights of Palestinians, he was recently attacked and beaten by Israeli police.
NEWS FROM THE REFUSER MOVEMENT
NEW PROFILE and YESH G’VUL Subject to Police Investigations
RSN has been a major supporter of New Profile and Yesh G’vul for many years. In the past year and especially since the assault on Gaza, groups advocating conscientious objection or refusal of military service have been subject to increased repression. For New Profile and Yesh G’vul this has taken the form of police investigations.
- Read New Profile’s most recent update about their response to the investigation and about their most recent activities. View a short video about New Profile from Al-Jazeera.
- Some background information on the investigation: From Ha’aretz
- Read Yesh G’vul’s most recent press release regarding the police interrogations
New Profile is a group of feminist women and men who oppose the militarization of Israeli society. NP works for a truly democratic civic education, teaching the practice of peace and conflict resolution, rather than training children to enlist and accept warfare. More information is available at New Profile’s website.
Yesh G’vul (“There is a limit!”) is an Israeli peace group campaigning against the Occupation by backing soldiers who refuse duties in the Occupied Territories. Yesh G’vul arose in response to the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. It offers counseling to soldiers who wrestle with the painful choice between serving policies they find abhorrent and defying military discipline. The organization provides moral and material backing for those who elect to refuse, ranging from financial support for families of jailed refuseniks to vigils at the military prisons where they are held. The oldest of the refuser groups, Yesh G’vul continues to struggle against illegal military actions in the Occupied Territories.
RECENT REPORTS ON THE STATUS OF ISRAELI FREFUSERS AND CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS
- Reports on Israeli youths and soldiers refusing to serve the occupation
- Update on Imprisoned Objectors
COMBATANTS FOR PEACE (CFP)
Recent Activities: Read CFP’s latest (July 2009) Newsletter [PDF]
The Combatants for Peace movement was started jointly by Palestinians and Israelis who have taken an active part in the cycle of violence—Israelis as soldiers in the Israeli army (IDF) and Palestinians as part of the violent struggle for Palestinian freedom. Since 2005, CFP has organized meetings between Israeli and Palestinian veterans in which both sides tell about the violent actions that they have taken part in and about the turning point that led them to understand the limits of violence. These combatants’ meetings allow each side to understand the other’s narrative through reconciliation rather than conflict. For more information see www.combatantsforpeace.org
COURAGE TO REFUSE/OMETZ LE SAREV
The Israeli assault on Gaza this past winter helped to revive Courage to Refuse as an active group. Read about their latest activities.
THE SHMINISTIM—ISRAEL’S YOUNG CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS
The Shministim are Israeli high school students who have been imprisoned for refusing to serve in an army that occupies the Palestinian Territories. A brief and informative article about the Shministim from the Alternative Information Center.
And a somewhat repetitive, but nonetheless engaging, You Tube short made during last winter’s letter writing campaign conducted by Jewish Voice for Peace in support of the Shministim.
BREAKING THE SILENCE RELEASES SOLDIERS’ TESTIMONIES FROM “OPERATION CAST LEAD,” GAZA, 20009
“You feel like an infantile little kid with a magnifying glass looking at ants, burning them.” Fifty-four testimonies of Israeli combat soldiers who participated in Operation Cast Lead reveal gaps between the reports given by the army following January’s events; the needless destruction of houses; firing phosphorous in populated areas and an atmosphere that encouraged shooting anywhere.
Download the Booklet of Testimonies here.
OTHER LINKS TO ANTI-OCCUPATION ACTIVITIES IN ISRAEL/PALESTINE
Occupation Magazine reports on opposition to Occupation.
The Free Gaza Movement has sent ships to Gaza to break the siege and express nonviolent solidarity with the people of Gaza. Read more here.
ICHAD-USA, the American counterpart of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, sponsors a variety of educational activities as well as a summer camp during which volunteers rebuild the home of a Palestinian family whose house has been demolished by Israeli authorities. Read more here.
B’tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, maintains an active web site detailing Israeli human rights violations in the Territories and resistance by Israeli-Palestinian peace groups. Read more here.
RSN NEEDS YOUR SUPPORT!
You can help the efforts of both Palestinian and Israeli refusers and peace activists!
Forward this newsletter to your own peace and justice networks and encourage others to learn about our work.
Send news and links to articles about refusers and anti-occupation work in Israel-Palestine to our newsletter address, email@example.com.
And most important, donate to RSN. RSN is the only charitable organization established in the United States that provides grants to refuser organizations. You can make a secure on-line donation by going to the RSN web site, and clicking on the DONATE NOW link.