‘We’re taking responsibility’: Sixty teens announce refusal to serve in Israeli army

From +972 Magazine: Dozens of Israeli teens sign public letter objecting to military service over Israel’s policies of apartheid, neoliberalism, and denial of the Nakba.

Sixty Israeli teenagers published an open letter addressed to top Israeli officials on Tuesday morning, in which they declared their refusal to serve in the army in protest of its policies of occupation and apartheid.

The so-called “Shministim Letter” (an initiative with the Hebrew nickname given to high school seniors) decries Israel’s military control of Palestinians in the occupied territories, referring to the regime in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem as an “apartheid” system entailing “two different systems of law; one for for Palestinians and another for Jews.”

“It is our duty to oppose this destructive reality by uniting our struggles and refusing to serve these violent systems–chief among them the military,” reads the letter, which was addressed to Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Education Minister Yoav Galant, and IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi.

Our refusal to enlist to the military is not an act of turning our backs on Israeli society,” the letter continues. “On the contrary, our refusal is an act of taking responsibility over our actions and their repercussions. Enlistment, no less than refusal, is a political act. How does it make sense that in order to protest against systemic violence and racism, we have to first be part of the very system of oppression we are criticizing?”

The public refusenik letter is the first of its kind to go beyond the occupation and refer to the expulsion of Palestinians during the 1948 war: “We are ordered to put on the bloodstained military uniform and preserve the legacy of the Nakba and of occupation. Israeli society has been built upon these rotten roots, and it is apparent in all facets of life: in the racism, the hateful political discourse, the police brutality, and more.”

The letter further emphasizes the connection between Israel’s neoliberal and military policies: “While the citizens of the Occupied Palestinian Territories are impoverished, wealthy elites become richer at their expense. Palestinian workers are systematically exploited, and the weapons industry uses the Occupied Palestinian Territories as a testing ground and as a showcase to bolster its sales. When the government chooses to uphold the occupation, it is acting against our interest as citizens– large portions of taxpayer money is funding the “security” industry and the development of settlements instead of welfare, education, and health.”

 

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You can also take action by signing the International Solidarity Declaration at the end of the letter: click here to access

 

 

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