Two - Principled, Strong, Loving Israeli Jewish Young Women

 

Dear George M***,

My name is Shahar. The last time I wrote to you was before I was sent to jail for the first time for my refusal to enlist in the Israeli army. I just spent my 19th birthday behind bars and I’ve already served two prison sentences and spent 28 days in jail. Last Thursday I was tried again and sentenced to another 30 days in prison. I will continue facing recurring incarcerations for my refusal to cooperate with the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories.


I am writing to you today from home because in the military prison we are not allowed to write. I am a person who writes down her thoughts and I scribble drawings when I try to focus. I write down tasks and ideas and I use empty pages to crystalize my thought process. When I arrived at the military prison for the first time I brought with me a pencil case, but it was taken away from me and I was informed by the prison guards who searched my belongings that I cannot keep any writing tools and can only write at specific times a day with pens provided by the prison authorities. 
Over time I realized that the specific hours considered proper for writing are very much dependent on the guards’ whims. Some days I could only get a pen for 10 minutes; on Saturdays or holidays you don’t get a pen at all. Privacy is a luxury I don’t get to have as a prisoner and I was not allowed to write anything without the rest of the inmates, guards and commanders getting to see what I’m writing. By the end of my prison sentence I returned home with all my notebooks completely empty.

In prison, writing is in itself a form of activism. We can use it to share our message about our choice to refuse as a form of resistance to the occupation. By depriving me of the option to write in prison, the prison authorities  hindered my ability to document what goes on behind bars, write articles and develop ideas and plan on how to share my experiences once I am released for a few days. The military does not want me to write, speak or share my thoughts. They are trying to silence me. 

The silencing of political refusers is a small part of a more violent pattern of behavior - The silencing of the Palestinian struggle for human rights in the West Bank and Gaza. The arrests of Palestinians that speak and act against the Israeli violent military actions and the violent oppressions by the military of Palestinian peaceful protests are just two emblematic examples of a broad policy aimed at suppressing any speaking, acting, criticizing or objecting on the part of Palestinians. 

And so, it is not surprising that after striving daily to hide the truth about the occupation and to silence those who are hurt by it, the next step is to silence those of us who oppose it. But it is this silencing, this attempt to erase, hide and deny what is really happening, that makes me stand proud and declare my refusal publicly. Despite not being able to write about any of this from prison I’m happy to be able to share my message with you now, even if it is from home. 

In solidarity,

Shahar

- - - -

I very, very much appreciate the principled stand you are taking in refusing to be inducted in the Israeli army!    When I was 18 years old I applied for conscientious objector status in the United States, and at age 19 1/2, after multiple appearances and appeals I was granted this status.   My actions were nowhere near as courageous as what you are doing.    Personally, my family is strongly tied to Israel!     Shmuel Agnon appeared on the front page of our local newspaper, The Lafayette Journal and Courier, in 1966, when he became Israel's first Nobel Laureate and every Israeli Jewish citizen I meet knows his name very well.   He was my great-uncle - marrying my grandfather's younger sister Esther Marx.   Most of my father's family lives in Israel.   I hope for a just, lasting peace for Israel and know that it will Never happen, until many peoples' love of Israel is shown by their caring for Israel's Palestinian citizens, as well as the millions of Palestinian People who also wish for a lasting, just peace. Your work is very important!   You are working through your resistance in a most important way!    I hope that young men will start resisting, as you and growing numbers of young women resist.     You show your love for Israel by resisting  the unjust denial of the rights of those who are not Jewish in your country!   I wish that your country could realistically be my country, and the country of many more of us Jews.   I meet more and more Israeli Jews who live in the U.S. (while others leave Israel for other countries) because they want peace, just peace.   Though I don't know you personally, I can appreciate and try to offer a little support today!   Someday - you won't face the imprisonment.  Someday - you won't be discriminated in Israel because you won't be a veteran of the Israeli Army.    I am not naive enough to believe that all Palestinians are "good" people.   It does, however, also seem obvious to me that most Israelis choose to serve in the military, hurting, through their cooperation, the chances for Israel to make peace and end the state of war and conflict which goes back well before 1948.   I think of the cousin of mine who told me of having a dress shop in Jerusalem that made custom dresses for wealthy Jewish and Palestinian women.   She spoke of how in 1967, a Palestinian man came to her shop, asking for her husband.  He cried, when she told him that he had passed away.   He had been a porter, working for both of them, until the terrible war caused him to be separated from them.   My cousin spoke of how, for the last few years of his life, he (asked to and) carried her bags each time she shopped in the Old City.   She also said that he refused to take any money from her!    Someday - such stories - can again become a reality.   It will not, however, be possible, until the Israeli Government sees the importance of negotiating in good faith so that a lasting just peace will begin.   You are doing one important part of helping make that a reality.  Thank you! - Sincerely, George M***, Chicago, IL USA

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14 DAYS IN JAIL
Categories: Uncategorized

From Refuser Solidarity Network | Original Article

Hello, my name is Hallel Rabin. I’m an 18 years old refuser from an Israeli kibbutz and tomorrow I’ll be sent to prison by the Israeli military. Just before Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, I refused to join the Israeli army and was held in military prison over the holiday. I’ve already been jailed for 14 days, because I don’t want to become a soldier for the occupation of Palestine. I tried to ask for exemption on the grounds of conscience, but the military refused to grant it. Instead, I’ve been sent to prison time after time in order to break my spiritTomorrow I’ll be incarnated for the third time in the course of a month. 

We are living in a period of both change and struggle. Everywhere in the world, young people are fighting for real democracy, and are using civil disobedience to combat racism and injustice. But for Palestinians the injustices of the past continue to prevail. In the territories occupied by Israel, basic human rights and liberties are constantly denied, while the Palestinian are deprived of the freedom to live freely.

I was raised on the values of freedom, compassion and love. Fighting to keep another nation enslaved contradicts these values. For too long, the good people of Israel have agreed to participate in the atrocities committed by the occupation. While I know my refusal is small and personal, I wish to be the change I want to see in the world, and to show that another way is possible. Little people make big changes. It is time to shout: There is no such thing as good repression, no such thing as justifiable racism and no more room for the Israeli occupation.

______________________________________________________________________________

Hallel is receiving ongoing media, personal and legal support so she can make her voice heard and share her message loudly. Many young Israelis have shared their support and encouragement for her act on social media, but many others oppose and attack her for “speaking against the military”. Her action has stirred a debate over the role of Israeli youth in the struggle for democracy and peace. It is a difficult public battle – as no one knows how long the Israeli military will continue to imprison Hallel.

WE ARE NOT YOUR SOLDIERS!

http://www.wearenotyoursoldiers.org/14-days-in-jail/?fbclid=IwAR1wVSV6t2EKPNJQofLRpf08N2_xCXL5ZohSKK1HALzZqEFDF2KPYHKdWBU

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