October 23rd, 2009 — 10:43 am
A new collective declaration of refusal by Israeli youths, the 2009-2010 high school seniors letter, went public last week. Today (22 Oct.), two of its signatories, Efi Brenner and Or Ben-David, came to the military induction base in Tel-Hashomer and there refused to enlist. Efi was indeed sent to prison, while Or has not yet been sentenced (she was told that the military prison for women was full), and will have to return to the induction base tomorrow, probably spend the weekend there and be sent to prison on Sunday. We will run a separate update on her case once she is in prison.
Efi Brenner, 18, from Rishon Le Zion (a suburb of Tel-Aviv), is a familiar figure among young anti-Occupation and animal rights activists in Israel. He was sentenced today to his first prison term of ten days (more terms in prison are likely to follow), which he serves in Military Prison no. 6 near Atlit. Following the media exposure that the Seniors’ Letter has received after it was made public, Efi was kicked out of home by his father, and spent the last days before imprisonment at a friend’s house. In prison he has already been transferred to the isolation ward for refusing to obey the military dressing code. In addition, the prison authorities decided (against all known regulations) not to allow him to take books with him into prison.
Efi has prepared the following statement upon entering prison:
I object to oppression, whether it is commited by a hierarchical organisation, such as the military is, or whether it is commited by the human species against animals. The Israeli government and military conduct a policy of occupation and oppression against the Palestinian people since 1948. It began with the expusion of Palestinians from their homes in 1948, which continues to this day, and continued with the imposition of an oppressive military rule on Palestinians, with the restriction of the freedom of movement of all people, with roads for Israelis only, with administrative detentions, house demolitions, land thefts, etc. We must act in peaceful ways and refuse to take part in the crimes commited by the military. That is our true duty. All the things mentioned above stand agaist the basic values of freedom and justice in which I believe and for which I struggle. I therefore refuse to enlist to the Israeli military and indeed to any military force of any kind.
Efi Brenner is due to be released from prison on 30 October, but is likely to be imprisoned again soon afterwards. His address in prison is:
ID number [redacted]
Military Prison No. 6
Military Postal Code 01860, IDF
Since the prison authorities often block mail from reaching imprisoned objectors, we also recommend you to send them your letters of support and encouragement via e-mail to email@example.com, and they will be printed out and delivered during visits.
First of all, please circulate this message and the information contained in it as widely as possible, not only through e-mail, but also on websites, social networks, conventional media, by word of mouth, etc.
Other recommendations for action:
1. Sending Letters of Support
Please send the imprisoned objectors letters of support (preferably postcards or by fax) to the prison addresses above.
2. Letters to Authorities
It is recommended to send letters of protest on the objectors’ behalf, preferably by fax, to:
Mr. Ehud Barak,
Minister of Defence,
Ministry of Defence,
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Tel.: ++972-3-6975540 or ++972-3-6975423
Copies of your letters can also be sent to the commander of the military prison at:
Commander of Military Prison No. 6,
Military Prison No. 6
Military Postal Code 01860, IDF
Another useful address for sending copies would be the Military Attorney General (note updated fax number):
Chief Military Attorney
Military postal code 9605, IDF
It would be especially useful to send your appeals to the Commander of the Induction Base in Tel-HaShomer. It is this officer that ultimately decides whether an objector is to be exempted from military service or sent to another round in prison, and it is the same officer who is ultimately in charge of the military Conscience Committee:
Commander of Induction Base,
Military Postal Code 02718, IDF
For those of you who live outside Israel, it would be very effective to send protests to your local Israeli embassy. You can find the address of your local embassy on the web.
Here is a generic sample letter, which you can use in sending appeals to authorities on the prisoners’ behalf. Feel free to modify this letter or write your own:
It has come to my attention that Efi Brenner (ID number [redacted]), a conscientious objector to military service, has been imprisoned for his refusal to become part of the Israeli army, and is held in the isolation ward of Military Prison no. 6 in Atlit.
The imprisonment of conscientious objectors such as Efi Brenner is a violation of international law, of basic human rights and of plain morals. The particularly harsh conditions of imprisonment (confinement in the isolation ward, denial of access to books) in which Efi Brenner is held are evidence of an attempt to use the Israeli military legal system to try to force him to change or betray his convictions. This amounts to political persecution.
I therefore call for the immediate and unconditional release from prison of Efi Brenner, without threat of further imprisonment in the future, and urge you and the system you are heading to respect the dignity and person of conscientious objectors, indeed of all persons, in the future.
3. Letters to media in Israel and in other countries
Writing op-ed pieces and letters to editors of media in Israel and other countries could also be quite useful in indirectly but powerfully pressuring the military authorities to let go of the objectors and in bringing their plight and their cause to public attention.
Here are some contact details for the main media outlets in Israel:
2 Karlibach st.
2 Moses st.
21 Schocken st.
Ha’aretz (English edition):
21 Schocken st.
2 Hashlosha st.
The B1 Building
P.O. Box 81
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Radio (fax numbers):
Galei Zahal +972-3-512-67-20
Television (fax numbers):
Channel 1 +972-2-530-15-36
Channel 2 +972-2-533-98-09
Channel 10 +972-3-733-16-66
We will continue updating on further developments.
October 6th, 2009 — 02:42 pm
Senior’s Letter 2009-2010
We, the undersigned young women and men, Jews and Arabs from all parts of the country, hereby declare that we will toil against the occupation and oppression policies of the Israeli government in the occupied territories, and in the territory of the land of Israel, and therefore refuse to take part in actions related to such policies, which are carried out in our name by the Israeli Defence Force.
We are all community activists and contribute in various ways to a variety of sectors in the Israeli society. We believe that contribution, cooperation and volunteerism are a way of life, and should not be limited to just two or three years. Our conscientious objection stems directly from our volunteer experience, from the values we believe in, from our love of the society that we are a part of and in which we live, from our respect of every human being, and from the aim of making our country a better place for all of its inhabitants.
The occupation creates an unbearable actuality for the Palestinians in the occupied territories. The checkpoint policy, land annexation, the building of the apartheid wall, paving of roads for Israeli’s only, settlement projects, and assassinations – all these have been sowing destruction in the West Bank for over 4 decades. The siege on Gaza and the prevention of importing materials, including basic food products and humanitarian aid, undermines the basic minimal living conditions of Gaza’s residents. We cannot tolerate such a reality.
The claim put forth by the spokespersons of the government and the army, that the continuation of the occupation arises from security reasons, has no substance. No country that has fought for its independence has ever been defeated by military means. The suffering of the Palestinian people and their subjugation is the cause of violent resistance. Israel’s public will never be safe as long as the Palestinian nation is under occupation. There is no military solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – only peace will ensure life and security for Jews and Arabs in this country.
The Israeli government frequently boasts that Israel is “the only democracy in the Middle East”. The occupation is a complete contradiction to this claim. Can a government that controls the lives of millions of people who did not take part in elections be called a “democracy”? Can military rule of a civilian population be considered anything other than a dictatorship?
The Israeli Army claims that it is “the most ethical army in the world”. However, time and again reality proves that occupation and ethics cannot stand together. When young armed men are sent on policing missions in the midst of occupied disenfranchised persons, when the government attempts to repress the struggle of the disenfranchised for independence by force – the stage is set for the injury of civilian population and committing of war crimes. Those who carry out such actions are not “exceptions” or “bad apples”. The occupation is the cess pool from in which such actions fester. The occupation has led the Israel Army to breach international treaties, UN decisions, and recommendations of the international court, and even Israeli law, time and again.
Settlement policy is racist in principle. In the name of a Messianic ideology, it has created a reality of apartheid in the West Bank. Disenfranchised Palestinians and privileged settlers live contrastive lives side by side. Settlers participate in the election of the government that administers their affairs, while the Palestinians live under military rule. Settlers enjoy social security benefits, and economic benefits, while Palestinians live a life of poverty and enslavement. Settlers are tried under Israeli law in Israeli courts, while Palestinians are tried at military courts with out the basic right of a fair proceeding. Any human opposed to racism finds this reality repulsive and untenable.
There are those who claim that we are objectors, although the Israeli government is the most consistent objector – in objecting to peace. The Israeli Army is not a “defence force”, but an aggressive occupation force. The Israeli government does not extend an olive branch, rather it upholds violent nationalism.
The occupation is a continuous crime against Israeli society. Employment of Palestinians under slave conditions in the Israeli job market causes a deterioration of conditions for all workers in the market and brings about a violation of their rights. Instead of investing in social budgets, the Israeli government has been investing for more than 40 years in the building of villas and by-pass roads in the settlements, in order to alter ground reality. The warped norms and the violence that young soldiers confess to in the territories have permeated the green line, and are expressed in a rise in violence and racism throughout Israeli society.
Out of sense of responsibility and concern for the two nations that live in this country, we cannot stand idle. We were born into a reality of occupation, and many of our generation see this as a “natural” state. In Israeli society it is a matter of fact that at 18, every young man and woman partakes in military service. However, we cannot ignore the truth – the occupation is an extreme situation, violent, racist, inhuman, illegal, non democratic, and immoral, that is life threatening for both nations. We that have been brought up on values of liberty, justice, righteousness and peace cannot accept it.
Our objection to becoming soldiers of the occupation stems from our loyalty to our values and to the society surrounding us, and it is part of our ongoing struggle for peace and equality, a struggle whose Jewish-Arab nature proves that peace and co-existence is possible. This is our way, and we are willing to pay the price.
Members of the Seniors’ Letter Group 2009-2010