[By: New Profile]
We, a group of feminist women and men, are convinced that we need not live in a soldiers' state. Today, Israel is capable of a determined peace politics. It need not be a militarized society. We are convinced that we ourselves, our children, our partners, need not go on being endlessly mobilized, need not go on living as warriors. We understand that the state of war in Israel is maintained by decisions made by our politicians - not by external forces to which we are passively subject. While taught to believe that the country is faced by threats beyond its control, we now realize that the words "national security" have often masked calculated decisions to choose military action for the achievement of political goals.
We are no longer willing to take part in such choices.We will not go on enabling them by obediently, uncritically supplying soldiers to the military which implements them. We will not go on being mobilized, raising children for mobilization, supporting mobilized partners, brothers, fathers, while those in charge of the country go on deploying the army easily, rather than building other solutions.
It is hard to express this type of opinion in Israel today. In a soldiers' state there are equal and less equal citizens: the social ladder is topped by those who fight. And those are unfailingly men. In addition, in Israel, they are Jewish men. As warriors, they are held to have privileged knowledge, giving them precedence in decision making. Attitudes casting doubts on "security" related decisions, questioning the state's enormous military budgets, or its ongoing policies of military confrontation, are branded "naive," "hysterical," "ignorant." An attitude that dares question the fundamental principle of willing enlistment, is almost incomprehensible in a soldiers' state. It is rejected as illegitimate.
Our position - the "ignorant" one - is free of the mindsets responsible for perpetuating war in Israel for decades. It is a position prioritizing life and the protection of life. It condones painful compromises in the interests of preserving life. The hegemonic culture in Israel nurtures admiration for might and physical prowess, an aggrandizement of Jewish nationals, and a devaluation of the lives of Arab nationals.
The militarized consciousness imbued with this message sees opting for war as reasonable. Young people enlist putting their trust in the wisdom and honesty of those who bid them to serve. Each of us is accountable to them and to ourselves. Every parent takes an active part in educating sons or daughters to become soldiers. And yet, there are many women and men, parents and youngsters, who object profoundly, morally to Israel's continued wars-of-choice. We oppose the use of military means to enforce Israeli sovereignty beyond the Green Line.
We oppose the use of the army, police, security forces in the ongoing oppression and discrimination of the Palestinian citizens of Israel, while demolishing their homes, denying them building and development rights, using violence to disperse their demonstrations. Given the widespread opposition to the kind of roles assigned the Israeli army for many years, thousands of young women and men are currently avoiding conscription or avoiding combat duty. Some 25% of the annual candidate recruits are presently exempted for health-related reasons or found "unfit" for service. It is common knowledge that a large proportion of these in fact choose not to serve. They feel unable to identify with the implications and meaning of military service in Israel today. Faced with no legal option for conscientious objection, a discharge on grounds of unfitness or poor health is virtually their only way out. Opting out is even more widespread among reservists. Army spokesmen have stated that only a third of the reserve forces in fact do active service. We all know how pervasive the intentional avoidance of duty ("twilight refusal") is among reservists.
To date, Israeli law does not acknowledge men's basic human right to conscientious objection. We regard Israeli conscription law as discriminatory and non-democratic, and call for the recognition of the basic right of every person, men included, to act in accordance with their conscience. Young women too undergo difficult, degrading interrogations by the military Exemption Committee. We urge the examination and revision of exemption procedures on grounds of conscience for women too.Acting on one's conscience is the fundamental right of every man and woman. We call for the recognition of men and women's right to express their social commitment by means of alternative civic service, conducted through a broad array of community services including work with non-governmental, voluntary organizations.
For our part, we refuse to go on raising our children to see enlistment as a supreme and overriding value. We want a fundamentally changed education system, for a truly democratic civic education, teaching the practice of peace and conflict resolution, rather than training children to enlist and accept warfare.
A study day, organized by the "New Profile Movement" on October 30, 1998, offered a first ever public forum for openly discussing these matters, to about 150 men and women, adults and youngsters. The many letters and phonecalls we have been receiving since, clearly indicate the real need for further action and discussion. If you share these opinions, help give our vital movement a public voice. Write us, call us, add your name to the growing list, along with address & phone numbers (+ fax and e-mail address, if available).
Any contributions for our further activities will be gratefully received!
P.O. Box 3454,
Ramat Hasharon 47100,
Voice Mail: +972-(0)3-5160119