Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Israel, Youths rally in support of 2 draft resisters* 22 Mar

Fifty high school seniors demonstrated Tuesday at the army's central induction center in support of two youths who intend to refuse to be drafted. The draft resisters, Alex Kohn and Eyal Barmai, were to be part of a group of new draftees in be inducted on Tuesday. They intend to tell the Israel Defense Forces that they will not participate in what they view as an oppressive occupation of the Palestinians.
Along with Kohn and Barmai, the protestors signed a letter urging refusal to serve in the IDF, and supporting conscientious objectors already in military prison. "I will give the officers a letter I prepared, and let them know I have no intention of aiding the occupation," said Kohn. "I know that by the end of the day I will be in prison."

He does not care if he receives a non-combatant job in the military, he said. "Every job in the occupation army gives legitimacy to the army's actions in the territories," he said. "If they were to propose civil service in place of military service, I would be happy to give to society." He noted that his parents do not agree with his views, but respect his decision.

Shomri Tzameret, 21, is a veteran draft resister. Along with five others, he spent nearly two years in prison for refusal to serve, and was released six months ago. He arrived on Tuesday to encourage the younger generation continuing his path.

"I admire their initiative," he said. "The hard thing is the morning. They will wake up each morning and remind themselves why they did this. Every morning they sit there they shorten the occupation and reduce the deaths on both sides."

About 250 teenagers signed the 12th-graders' letter, which they mailed a week ago to the prime minister, the defense minister, the chief of staff, and the minister of education. The letter calls for all teenagers called up for the draft, and all Israeli soldiers, "to consider afresh if you will risk your life and take part in a policy of subjugation and destruction."

"The current policy is not a result of security requirements, but rather of a nationalist, messianic worldview," the letter continues. "Israel is wasting its resources on conducting and occupation and oppression in the occupied territories, at a time when hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens live in shameful poverty. In recent years, citizens have seen a deterioriation in all public institutions: education, health care, infrastructure, pensions ... They are neglected for the sake of the settlements' continued existence."

The teenagers asked for an alternative means to help society, one "which does not include hurting people."
* [Ed. note: significant number of the new wave of 250 list of high-schooler refusnics are also involved with the Anarchist Against The Wall initiative.]

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