Support the Shministim
A new wave of refuseniks, August 2008
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 IDF.
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 routing of hatred will never lead us to peace, and they are all contradictory to the basic values a society that pretends to be democratic should have.
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 tramples 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 expostulate the plundering and the theft of territories and source of income to the Palestinians in exchange to the expansion of the settlements, reasoning to defend Israeli territories. 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 wall and blockades surround the Palestinian Territories and serve as a halter around the Palestinian’s neck. The soldiers who commit crimes under the patronage and protection of their commanders reflect the image of the Israeli society; a destructive and surprising 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 cast sanctions and 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 by himself/ herself the truth and to lift the veil which distorts the reality of the situation; to verify statistical data; to look for the humane side in him/her and in the society which stands in front of him/her, to disprove the myths that were routed within us regarding the necessity of the IDF’s in the Palestinian Occupied Territories, and to stand up against every action which he finds irrational and illegal.
In a place were 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 an 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.
Members of the Shministim Letter 2008.
Update fromSergeiy Sandler <email@example.com>, 25 August 2008 18:16:35 BST, adapted slgihtly with some additional material added.
CO Sahar Vardi, 18, from Jerusalem, has been sentenced today (25 Aug) to 7 days in military prison [and more will lprobablyly follow after she is released].
Sahar is the third conscientious objector, and the first woman, to be imprisoned among a new group of high school seniors, who signed a collective declaration of refusal to serve in the Israeli army of occupation, and in the work of organising which she has been very strongly involved.
While she stresses the importance of resisting the occupation of Palestine as a motive for her refusal, Sahar’s conscientious objection is also rooted in a wider pacifist position. In a letter to the Minister of Defence, declaring her refusal to serve in the military, She wrote:
I have been to the occupied Palestinian territory many times, and even though I realize that the soldier at the checkpoint is not responsible for the wretched policy of the oppressor towards civilians, I am unable to relieve that soldier of responsibility for his conduct … I mean the human responsibility of not causing another human being to suffer.
The bloody times in which I live (consisting of assassinations, aggression, bombings, shootings) results in increasing numbers of victims on both sides. It is a vicious circle that emanates from the fact that both sides elect to engage in violence. This choice I refuse to take part in.
A demonstration was organised to join Sahar before she goes into the Induction Base to refuse enlistment (see image on the right). About 80 people came, in a not very late hour of the morning. Media coverage was also significant. A small counter-demonstration organised by a pro-military group confronted us (quite violently – head-butting one of the demonstrators on our side in the fact, driving a motorcycle into the crowd and nearly running over an elderly demonstrator). But all in all, Sahar went there in high spirits.
Sahar decided to refuse to wear a military uniform in prison, and has put in the Isolation Ward of the prison. The Isolation Wards of military prisons in Israel are often the cite of various minor or less minor forms of abuse, so Sahar will need a lot of support. She is due to be released from prison on 31 Aug. but is likely to be imprisoned again soon afterwards.
Her prison address is:
Military ID 6055780
Military Prison No. 400
Military Postal Code 02447, IDF
Since the prison authorities often block mail from reaching imprisoned objectors, we also recommend you to send your letters of support and encouragement to Sahar via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, and they will be printed out and delivered to her during visits. In addition, you may want to follow some of our recommendations for action below.
Finally, a brief update on the other two imprisoned objectors – Udi Nir and Avichai Vaknin.
Both are well. Udi was supposed to be moved into the Isolation Ward of Military Prison no. 6 for refusing to wear a uniform, but decided to accept the uniform, so that the two objectors could stay in prison together. Of course, will continue to inform on developments.
CO Avichai Vaknin, 18, a pacifist conscientious objector from the town of Yehud, near Tel-Aviv, has been sentenced on 20 Aug. to 21 days in military prison.
Military ID 030146277
Military Prison No 6
Military Postal Code 01860, IDF
CO Udi Nir, 19, from the Tel-Aviv suburb of Hertzlia, has been sentenced yesterday (20 Aug. ) to 21 days in military prison.]
Military ID 6022372
Military Prison No. 6
Military Postal Code 01860, IDF
First of all, please circulate this message and the information contained in it as widely as possible,
not only through e-mail, but also on websites, conventional media, by word of mouth, etc.
Other recommendations for action:
1. Send Letters of Support
Please send letters of support (preferably postcards or by fax) to the prison addresses above.
Since the prison authorities often block mail from reaching imprisoned objectors, we also recommend you to send your letters of support and encouragement to Sahar via e-mail to email@example.com, and they will be printed out and delivered to her during visits.
2. Write to the Authorities
It is recommended to send letters of protest, preferably by fax, to:
Mr. Ehud Barak,
Minister of Defence,
Ministry of Defence,
37 Kaplan St.,
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Fax: ++972-3-696-27-57 / ++972-3-691-69-40 / ++972-3-691-79-15
Copies of your letters can also be sent to the commander of the military prison at:
Commander of Military Prison No. 400,
Military Prison No. 400,
Military postal number 02447, IDF
Another useful address for sending copies would be the Military Attorney General:
Chief Military Attorney
Military postal code 9605, IDF
It would be especially useful to send your appeals to the Commander of the Induction Base in Tel-HaShomer. It is this officer that ultimately decides whether an objector is to be exempted from military service or sent to another round in prison, and it is the same officer who is ultimately in charge of the military Conscience Committee:
Commander of Induction Base,
Military Postal Code 02718, IDF
For those of you who live outside Israel, it would be very effective to send protests to your local Israeli embassy. You can find the address of your local embassy on the web.
Here is a sample letter fo Sahar Vardi, which you can use, or better adapt, in sending appeals to authorities on the prisoners’ behalf:
It has come to my attention that Sahar Vardi, Military ID 6055780, a conscientious objector, has been imprisoned for her refusal to perform military service, and is held in Military Prison No. 400.
The imprisonment of conscientious objectors such as Sahar Vardi is a violation of international law, of basic human rights and of plain morals.
I therefore call for the immediate and unconditional release from prison of Sahar Vardi, without threat of further imprisonment in the future, and urge you and the system you are heading to respect the dignity and person of conscientious objectors, indeed of all human beings, in the future.
3. Letters to media in Israel and in other countries
Writing op-ed pieces and letters to editors of media in Israel and other countries could also be quite useful in indirectly but powerfully pressuring the military authorities to let go of the objectors and in bringing their plight and their cause to public attention.
Here are some contact details for the main media outlets in Israel:
2 Karlibach st.
2 Moses st.
21 Schocken st.
Ha’aretz (English edition):
21 Schocken st.
2 Hashlosha st.
The B1 Building
P.O. Box 81
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Radio (fax numbers):
Galei Zahal +972-3-512-67-20
Television (fax numbers):
Channel 1 +972-2-530-15-36
Channel 2 +972-2-533-98-09
Channel 10 +972-3-733-16-66
We will continue updating on further developments.
Thank you for your attention and action,
Sergeiy Sandler – New Profile.