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  • What Israelis really mean when we talk about the Left

    It is a shameful lie to make opposition to 47-year military rule an issue of supporters or traitors of Israel. The war in Gaza yielded a large crop of articles about Liberal Zionism. Suddenly numerous authors felt an urgent need to reject, redefine, defend or deconstruct a term that the vast majority of Israelis have never heard of. However, Israelis are familiar with the same basic concept, except they call it the “Zionist Left,” or national left. They embrace the label “Zionism,” but unlike diaspora-based writers, don’t spend too much time trying to define it.  I can’t recall anything like…

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  • Refusal by elite IDF reservists angrily dismissed as 'political'

    Following the public refusal of 43 reservists of the IDF's 8200 intelligence unit, politicians and other veterans of the unit have openly denounced the reservists, viewing their refusal as an unacceptable politicization of their army service. Political leaders both from the government and the opposition condemned 43 reservists from Israel’s prestigious 8200 intelligence unit who stated their refusal to take part in intelligence-gathering activities that, they claim, deepen Israel’s military rule over Palestinians. Unlike the issue of refusal during Protective Edge, which was hardly noticed or covered during the war, the 8200 letter grabbed headlines over the weekend, appeared on most major news Internet sites,…

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  • IDF's 'start-up nation' reservists refuse to serve the occupation

    One of the most striking points in the unprecedented refusal letter is the forceful argument that Israel’s policies vis-a-vis Palestinians are simply unrelated to defense –and they are a matter of choice. Forty-three members of the IDF's prestigious and secretive Unit 8200 have signed a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stating their refusal to serve in reserve duty related to military governance over Palestinians. The document, made available by Ynet, expresses their opposition in blunt language (my translation): We who came out of Unit 8200, men and women reservists past and present, declare that we refuse to take part…

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  • A week in photos: Days of rage

    This week: Anti-Prawer Plan protests from south to north, tear gas weapons on a Bethlehem Christmas tree, a Druze refusenik, a fake fur fashion show, a water break during clashes, an Emmy-winner against the wall, Ethiopians arrested, Al-Araqib endures demolition, Afghan asylum seekers in Europe, and the ongoing humiliations of occupation.  Photos:                                    

  • 'How speaking out about the occupation nearly landed me in jail'

    When even reporting an immoral act by a senior officer carries with it a serious price, it becomes clear that one cannot win against the army. Been there, done that.  In July 1989, as a young, bored soldier in the IDF's main draft base in Tel Ha'Shomer, I asked my colonel to be transferred to the Civil Administration in the Gaza Strip. We were on friendly terms and he quickly made the arrangements, walking through my first sham court martial. I was in charge of running a small garden toolshed, which was broken into while I was on vacation -…

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  • Druze teen to Netanyahu: 'I will not be a soldier in your army'

    Omar Saad, a young Druze from the town of Maghar in northern Israel declared his refusal to serve in the IDF in late 2012. Although the Druze are considered to be an ethnic group that has assimilated well in the Israeli community, the voices of refusal within the community are becoming stronger. In an open letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Saad writes that he opposes the idea of conscription by law for members of the Druze community, as it forces them to fight against their Arab brothers. Israel Social TV is an independent media NGO working to promote social change, human rights, social justice and equality, and to mobilize its…

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  • Why I Refuse: On God/love, nonviolence and the occupation

    'The Occupation is anti-God, anti-Love and staggeringly, constantly violent.' Why I refuse to serve in the IDF. My name is Moriel Zachariah Rothman. I am 23 years old and live in Jerusalem. I lived for most of my life in the United States, but I was born in Jerusalem (and am Jewish) and have thus been an Israeli citizen since birth. As such, I am, like [most] other Israeli Jews, expected to serve in the IDF. I moved back to Jerusalem last year, and I recently received a draft notice from the IDF. After much thinking, wrestling and searching, and…

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  • WATCH: Refusing to enlist in the IDF

    “Only after the first time I went to the occupied territories did I realize that I could never be a part of the army."  -Alon Gurman, 19, from Tel Aviv.  In March 2012, Alon Gurman and three other Israelis announced their decision to refuse to serve in the Israel Defense Forces, forming the first collective refusal in recent years. Here is a short video telling the story of Noam Gur and Alon Gurman, who both came to the decision after joining demonstrations in the West Bank in solidarity with Palestinians opposing Israeli occupation and land theft.      This video…

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  • Four young Israelis refuse army draft in new refusenik wave

    In the coming weeks, three young Israelis are expected to go to prison for their refusal to enlist in the Israeli army, and a fourth conscientious objector received an exemption from service yesterday. Together they form the first group of refuseniks in Israel in the past three years. These are their stories. Since December, I've been considering using my refusal to make a statement, but I felt alone, and it felt pointless doing this without partners. When I saw your +972 interview with Noam Gur I felt less alone. I contacted her, and very soon realized it would be best…

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  • An Ethiopian teen's principled refusal to join the IDF

    "Y.E.S. - Young Ethiopian Students" have published a letter from one of their readers, an 18-year-old  about to join the IDF. The story of the Ethiopian community in Israel is one of the most profoundly shameful chapters in the history of the state, which deserves a separate post; but I will only say the Ethiopian community is among the worst discriminated minorities in Israel, competing in underprivileged only with the Bedouins of the Negev (the situation of the community of migrant workers and refugees is quite beyond comparison on any local scale). Nevertheless, the state has no qualms about recruiting…

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