Thursday, December 18, 2008

Solidarity with the Shministim!

AT an age, and a time of the year, when most young people here, including the politically active, are thinking about partying and prezzies, a group of Israelis not long out of school are facing up to repeated prison stretches for their principles. These are the shministim, from the Hebrew word for eighth-grade, equivalent to our Sixth-form, who signed a letter opposing Israel's continued military occupation of Palestinian lands, and refusing to serve in the forces.

While the 'respectable' Israeli authorities and Zionist leaders permit and encourage right-wing settlers and thugs like the Kahanists to rampage and terrorise civilians, they are clamping down hard on the decent young people who dare to be Israel's conscience.

Here are a few of these resisters:

Tamar Katz

Age: 19
Location: Tel-Aviv
Why I am one of the Shministim:

“I refuse to enlist in the Israeli military on conscientious grounds. I am not willing to become part of an occupying army, that has been an invader of foreign lands for decades, which perpetuates a racist regime of robbery in these lands, tyrannizes civilians and makes life difficult for millions under a false pretext of security.”
First Sentence: 28th Sept. - 10th Oct. 2008 (12 days)
Second Sentence:
12th - 30th Oct. 2008 (18 days)
Third Sentence: 1st - 22nd Dec. 2008 (21 days)

Read more…

Omer Goldman

Name: Omer Goldman
Age: 19
Why I am one of the Shministim:
“I believe in service to the society I am part of, and that is precisely why I refuse to take part in the war crimes committed by my country. Violence will not bring any kind of solution, and I shall not commit violence, come what may.”
First Sentence: 22nd Sept. - 10th Oct. 2008 (18 days)
Second Sentence:
12th - 24th Oct. 2008 (10 days)

Read more…

Yuval Ophir-Auron

Name: Yuval Ophir-Auron
Age: 19
Why I am one of the Shministim:
“I am convinced that it is no one but ourselves who determines that it is our fate to live by the sword. There is another way, which is not the way of war. This is the path of dialogue, of understanding, of concession, forgiveness, of peace.
I believe that a person should take responsibility and feel reconciled to the way he chooses. This is why I shall not join an army behind whose actions I cannot stand and whose behavior I cannot justify.”
First Sentence: 24th Nov. - 5th Dec. 2008
Second Sentence: 7th - 14th December 2008

Read more…

The information from and about the Shministim is being spread by the US group Jewish Voice for Peace, which is urging protests to Israeli embassies and consulates today, demanding these young people be freed.

Among those supporting the 19-year old's stand is a 79-year old, actor and former Screen Actors' Guild leader Ed Asner, whom oldies like me remember as tough but decent news editor Lou Grant,in the TV series. Asner, who served in the US army signal corps in Europe, has supported the Democratic Socialists of America, and opposed both US and Israeli wars and occupations. Writing about the Israeli army refuseniks in the online Huffington Post he says:

"This new generation of young Israeli kids is standing up to the government - they call 'em "Shministim." The Shministim- all about ages 17, 18, 19 and in the 12th grade - are taking a stand. They believe in a better, more peaceful future for themselves and for Israelis and Palestinians, and they are refusing to join the Israeli army. They're in jail, holding strong against immense pressure from family, friends and the Israeli government. "They need our support and they need it today".

Amen to that.

See also:

Original Shministim letter:

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