Leader's in the Way to a New Israel
ccun.org, December 13, 2008
Shministim means "twelfth-graders" in Hebrew and military
service is mandatory upon graduation from Israeli high school.
The Shministim are Israeli youth of conscience who refuse to serve in
the Israeli Army because it is the force that enforces Israel's 40+-year
occupation of indigenous Palestinians.
The first Shministim
letter was sent to Prime Minister Golda Meir. In 2008 alone, one hundred
youth have signed the following letter, which cost them a jail term in
an Israeli military prison, ranging from 21 to 28 days. For those who
refuse to wear the military uniform, they are punished with solitary
The Shministim Letter of 2008:
We, high-school graduate teens, declare that we shall work against
the Israeli occupation and oppression policy in the occupied territories
and the territories of Israel. Therefore we will refuse to take part of
these actions, which are being done under our name as part of the IDF.
Our refusal comes first and foremost as a protest on the separation,
control, oppression and killing policy held by the state of Israel in
the occupied territories, as we understand that this oppression, killing
and routing of hatred will never lead us to peace, and they are all
contradictory to the basic values a society that pretends to be
democratic should have.
All the members of this group believe in
developing the value of social work. We are not refusing to serve the
society we live in, but are protesting against the occupation and the
ways of actions which the militaristic system holds as it is today-
crushing civil rights, discriminating on a racial base and acting
opposing international laws.
We oppose the actions taken in the
name of the "defense" of the Israeli society (Checkpoints, targeted
killing, apartheid roads-available for Jews only, curfews etc.) that
serve the occupation and exploitation policy , annex more conquered
territories to the State of Israel and tramples the rights of the
Palestinian population in an aggressive manner. These actions serve as a
band-aid covering a bleeding wound, and as a limited and temporary
solution that will accelerate and aggravate the conflict further.
We expostulate the plundering and the theft of territories and
source of income to the Palestinians in exchange to the expansion of the
settlements, reasoning to defend Israeli territories. In addition, we
oppose any transformation of Palestinian cities and villages to ghettos
without minimal living conditions or income sources enclosed by the
We also protest the humiliating and
disrespectful behavior of the military forces towards Palestinians in
the West Bank; violence towards demonstrators, public humiliations,
arrests, destruction of property regardless to any safety or defense
needs, all of which violate global human rights and international law.
The wall and blockades surround the Palestinian Territories and
serve as a halter around the Palestinian's neck. The soldiers who commit
crimes under the patronage and protection of their commanders reflect
the image of the Israeli society; a destructive and surprising society
that is incapable of accepting its neighboring nation as a partner and
not as an enemy.
In order to hold an effective dialogue between
the two societies, we, the well-established and stronger society, have
the responsibility of establishing and strengthening the other. Only
with a more socially and financially established partner could we work
towards peace rather than one-sided retaliation acts. Rather than
supporting those citizens who have hope for peace, the military cast
sanctions and pushes more and more people towards acts of extreme
violence and escalation.
We hereby challenge every citizen who
wonders if the military's policy in the occupied territories is
conducive to the progression of the peace process, to discover by
himself/ herself the truth and to lift the veil which distorts the
reality of the situation; to verify statistical data; to look for the
humane side in him/her and in the society which stands in front of
him/her, to disprove the myths that were routed within us regarding the
necessity of the IDF's in the Palestinian Occupied Territories, and to
stand up against every action which he finds irrational and illegal.
In a place were there are humans, there is someone to talk to.
Therefore, we ask to create a dialogue that goes beyond the power
struggle, the retaliation and one-sided attrition actions; to disprove
the "No Partner" myth, which is leading to a lose-lose situation of an
ongoing frustration, and to move to more humane methods.
cannot hurt in the name of defense or imprison in the name of freedom;
therefore we cannot be moral and serve the occupation.
Members of the Shministim
After these conscientious objectors serve their
sentence, they are once again drafted. When they refuse a second time,
they face the same sentence, and there is literally no end to the number
of times these forward thinking youth will return to jail as an act of
conscience and courageous dissent from a country that has not kept its
very own words:
"On the day of the termination of the British
mandate and on the strength of the United Nations General Assembly
declare The State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace
as envisaged by the prophets of Israel: it will ensure complete equality
of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of
religion it will guarantee freedom of religion [and] conscience and will
be faithful to the Charter of the United Nations." - May 14, 1948. The
Declaration of the Establishment of Israel
recently wrote a book review of Avraham Burg's, The Holocaust is Over,
from which I excerpt:
His core message is that Israel is in
serious trouble at home and there is good reason to think that things
could go horribly wrong in the future. He emphasizes that Israel has
changed greatly since 1948. He quotes his mother on this point:
"This country is not the country that we built. We founded a different
country in 1948, but I don't know where it's disappeared." Israel today,
he writes, "is frighteningly similar to the countries we never wanted to
resemble." Talking about Israel's shift to the right over time, he makes
the eye-popping observation that "Jews and Israelis have become thugs."
Burg makes it clear that he is not equating Israel's past
behavior with what happened in Nazi Germany, but he does see disturbing
similarities between Israel and "the Germany that preceded Hitler."
[Burg] raises the possibility that there might be a civil war inside
Israel, which "will be not a war between members of the Jewish people of
different shades of beliefs, but an uncompromising struggle between good
people and bad people anywhere."
…he fears that Israel will end
up following in the footsteps of Germany, where "slow processes altered
the perception of reality to the degree that insanity became the norm,
and then we were exterminated. It happened in the land of poets and
philosophers. There it was possible, and here too, in the land of the
prophets. The establishment of a state run by rabbis and generals is not
an impossible nightmare. I know how difficult this comparison is, but
please open your ears, eyes, and hearts."
Many American Jews think that Israel is in trouble today because of
anti-Semitism or because it is surrounded by dangerous adversaries who
threaten Israel's very existence. Israelis themselves, Burg reminds us,
love to emphasize that "the entire world is against us."
dismisses these wrongheaded beliefs: "Today we are armed to the teeth,
better equipped than any other generation in Jewish history. We have a
tremendous army, an obsession with security, and the safety net of the
For Burg, Israel's troubles are
self-inflicted…They think that everyone is out to get them, and that the
Palestinians are hardly any different than the Nazis. Given this
despairing perspective, Israelis believe that almost any means is
justified to counter their enemies…Israeli society is plagued with a
host of serious problems that are threatening to tear it apart…the
Occupation, which has had a corrupting effect on Israeli society and has
drawn criticism from all around the globe…
did not focus much attention on the Holocaust in the first decade or so
after 1948 and they showed surprisingly little sympathy for the
survivors who came to Israel after the war. But all that changed in the
1960s… after Israel conquered the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 and began
All of this is to say that the best way to
rescue Israel from its plight is not simply to get beyond the Holocaust,
but to end the Occupation. [end]
The SHMINISTIM youth are on the
forefront of helping to dismantle the Occupation and that will enable
many Jews to get beyond the Jewish Holocaust, for these youth are driven
by conscience and truth.
You can help these young Israeli
Conscientious Objectors just by filling in a form @
Your message will be hand delivered to the Israeli Minister of Defense
by Israeli peace activists on December 18, 2008 The Shministim Day of
Join them on Face Book:
John Mearsheimer's Full Book Review:
Eileen Fleming, Author, Founder WAWA:
Producer "30 Minutes With Vanunu"
and "13 Minutes with Vanunu"
This site contains copyrighted material the
use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright
owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance
understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic,
democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this
constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for
in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C.
Section 107, the material on this site is
distributed without profit to those
who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information
for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml.
If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of
your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the