Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Refusal and protest within Israel

Contents of this post:

Item 1: Update on soldiers refusing to serve

Video of Ometz L'Sarev (Courage to Refuse) demonstration in front of the Ministry of Defense in the heart of Tel Aviv; video includes interviews with multiple refusers and advocates of refusal: <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cMs0nai4JQ>. Ha'aretz reports that at least one reserve soldier has already been jailed for refusal to serve: <http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1054861.html>.

Item 2: Commentary by an Israeli protester

Sharon Dolev: "A lefty in Israel" (direct email below). Accompanying video shows firefighters hosing protesters outside of the air force base: <http://news.walla.co.il/?w=/4560/1416660>.


From: Sharon Dolev
Sent: January 13, 2009 12:19
Subject: A lefty in Israel

A lefty in Israel

Please allow me to steal a few minutes of your time, and share my feelings.

In the last few days, a small group has been demonstrating in the entrance of an Air Force base in Tel Aviv. The reason we stand there is that this is the place most air force fighters use to fly to their bases around Israel.

We hold signs calling on them to refuse orders to bomb civilians and children. **This is one of many demonstrations against the war held by Israelis and taking place on a daily basis.**

This very quiet vigil provokes very strong feelings among passers-by, the military, and the fire brigade across the street. The fire brigade, even though they are not allowed to express political opinions while on duty, threw eggs at us and, when we didn't move, brought forward their fire engines, with cranes and tried to wash us away.

Since I happened to be on the edge of the vigil, they managed to use one hose to isolate me, and the other to get me soaked wet. When they decided I can't get any wetter, they kept only the hose they used to separate me from the group, and came together, all in uniform, with their commanding officer, to rip my sign, and to tell me again and again, that I need to get inside the station and (my apologies) give them all head (oral sex).

The under-cover police were there. We kept calling the police asking them to send someone, and they did nothing.

We, at the more extreme left in Israel, always knew that we are, for some, fair game. That we, as they put it so nicely, "should be killed even before the Hammas". Violence was always part of the response to our activities, but violence by the fire brigades, with the police refusing to act, is a new escalation.

We will continue our demonstrations, and we truly believe in what we do. But at the same time, we know that we are not effective. We are not effective because the media refuses to cover us.

The media in Israel refuses to cover us because it would harm the soldiers' morale, and because, at times of war, we put democracy on hold and our "brave" media becomes drafted media.

But what about the media outside Israel? After all, they are all so interested in Israel. Why don't they ever show us? Is it because it is too hard to show that not all is just black and white? Is it because it might not go well with the quite fair anti-Israel motions?

**I know. My feelings, my disappointment, my fear, are nothing in comparison to the fear of the people, the families and the children in Gaza. They are also nothing in comparison to the people living in Sderot and in the south of Israel.**

But today, I am afraid.

In my country, I'm a traitor. Fair game. But the minute I leave Israel, I'm an Israeli. Not a lefty. An Israeli, an occupier, and again – fair game.
And my last point is that there can be a million demonstrations around the world against Israel. That won't make Israel listen. But a million demonstrations for Peace and full coverage of what we do here in Israel will keep us safer, and might make a difference.

Please, if you know reporters, if you have connections, ask media people to start showing Israeli opposition to the war. It is time our voice is heard.

If you demonstrate, please do it in a way that will make a difference. Not just anti-Israel, but with signs calling for a cease fire and the acceptance of UN resolution 1860 by both sides.

Thank you for listening.


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Racheli Gai
Rela Mazali
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1 comment:

Mary Fox said...

This reminds me so much of the hoses turned on protesters during the civil rights movement in the US in the 60s. The only thing missing is the German Shepherds. But this is exactly the phase that Israel is currently mired in.

"Jim Crow" laws discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel, and canned hunts in Gaza take the place of lynchings. When you have convinced yourself that certain people are less than human, anything goes.

It took decades for the American public to recognize the immorality of this thinking and begin to change their policies, which was the result not only of the brave stands of activists but also rulings of the Supreme Court, etc. How long will it take Israel?

Sharon is right that media exposure is everything. But the cause will be better served by YouTube and other alternative outlets than by the servile corporate media in the US.

Too bad her email address was not included (although I understand why). I would like to send her some encouragement.