Sunday, March 29, 2009

Israeli Conscientious Objectors Give Army Salaries to Gaza

[for a real emotional uplift, watch this 3 minute video!]

Israelis who chose jail rather than complete their mandatory military service are now announcing that they will donate the salaries they received from the Israeli Defense Forces for the short time they served in uniform toward the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip. They are giving the several thousand shekels they earned to the Doctors Without Borders organization to purchase medical equipment for Gaza.

Maya Tamarin, 19, of Tel Aviv emphasized to ynetnews.com that their donation was symbolic: "We don't actually think that this sum could rebuild Gaza. We simply don't want the army's money. Instead, we will transfer it to where it should go. Instead of money to destroy, money to rebuild-from the ugliest place to the best place."

Taramin served for three months, spending a large part of that time in military prison before being discharged for medical reasons. During those three months, she received a salary from the IDF.

All nine young Israeli contributors are former members of the "Shministim (Twelfth Graders') Letter" group, high school graduates who published a public statement of refusal to serve in the IDF. Young Israeli men must perform three years of full-time military service [young women serve for two]. Barring an individual exemption, the military service is usually performed immediately after completing high school by all.

Refusal to serve in the military results in sentencing to military prison. Terms usually range from 21 to 28 days; those who refuse to wear a military uniform while in jail are sent to solitary confinement for the duration of their term, according to the Shministim's website.

After completing their initial jail sentence, the objector is then redrafted. If they refuse a second time, as most do, they face the same sentence. This can be a repeated process until they receive their discharge papers. A Shministi may never receive these papers, and although the Israeli military may tire of re-calling objectors into prison regularly, without these papers, an objector's fate is always uncertain. There is literally no end to the number of times youth might be sent back to jail.

Tamarin and her friends are still actively promoting refusal of military service among Israeli high school students. She told ynetnews.com: "The aim is to increase the next generations of objectors, prompt teenagers to think. I personally don't want everybody to refuse to enlist, but that the issues of militarism in Israeli society will be questioned."

The concluding quotations are statements from Israelis we need to support [quotations from ynetnews.com].

Sahar Vardi, 18, from Jerusalem spent five months of repeated detentions as a soldier, until she was discharged:

"We refused because of what the army is doing in Gaza, so clearly when we get the money we will give it to the people who deserve to get it."

Yuval Oron, 20 from Neve Shalom served 45 days in military prison.

"Transferring the money comes from thinking of all the damage and pain caused by the army and specifically during the weeks of massacre of Operation Cast Lead. This is an attempt to show solidarity of young Israeli Jews, and maybe also an attempt to stick it to the IDF."

6 comments:

Laura said...

Thanks for this excellent post!

an average patriot said...

I wonder if they will be allowed to serve when they are needed to fight the good fight? That will come!

afeatheradrift said...

Gosh this is so good to hear. There is sanity in Israel. One gets the impression everything is kill kill kill. I am happy to see saner voices.

Brother Tim said...

Kudos to those kids. It harks back memories of the 60s in the US. It also shows that there is sanity among the youth of Israel. Long may they live! Will it take the youth of the world to rescue us?

Carol said...

This is beautiful. Thank you!

Dusty said...

It made me cry..I love those CO's!

Crossposting this at Sirens and making the video a feature on the sidebar. You so rock B.E!!! ;)