Hope for Palestine (Filastin/Eretz-Yisrael)?

I think what it will take is what seems now unimaginable: a transformation of consciousness
that creates a significant majority of both Israeli & Filastini voters who are able
to separate & free their national identity from their idea of their national state,
to respect one another’s societal entities, religions, languages, cultures, histories –
before which must come from each side to the other
due acknowledgment, due apologies,
due compensations for whatever they are due.
Hope is in the cyber hyper generation, who else?

I wrote the lines above towards the end of a conversation with Ayala Shalev, a contemporary of my sons who lives & works in Israel & whom I’ve known (& loved & respected) since she & they were children, when we lived in the little house next door to her parents & her little twin brothers in Tel Baruch, a suburb just across the Yarkon River from Tel Aviv. The conversation began when she posted on Facebook the text of the letter by some 50 brave young 12th-Year students in Israel explaining their refusal to be drafted into the Israeli army. I was so moved by that letter that I decided to translate it into coherent English, & then posted the translation (& also her concise & cogent introductory comment) on Facebook.  With her agreement, I’m now reposting the entire conversation.

Richard Flantz I’m sharing this post because I was very moved by its contents. (Thank you Ayala for sharing it.)
I’ve translated this letter that expresses the intention of (I have no idea how many) brave young Jewish-Israelis to refuse to be drafted into the “Israel Defense Forces” this year, because I think that it deserves broader exposure & certainly a clearer & more coherent English translation than the Bing automat’s (which did get some parts right).

We are citizens of the State of Israel who are due to be drafted into the army.
We invite the readers of this letter to set aside what seems self-evident, and to reconsider the meaning of service in the army.

We the undersigned intend to refuse to be drafted, and the main reason for our refusal is our opposition to the occupation of the Palestinian territories by the army. The Palestinians in the Occupied Territories live under the rule of the government of Israel, even though they did not elect it and cannot legally influence its decision-making. This situation is unequal and unjust.

In these territories, human rights are being violated and actions that are considered to be war crimes according to international law– such as assassinations (executions without trial), the building of settlements in an occupied territory, administrative detentions, torture, collective punishment and unequal distribution of resources such as water and electricity – are being committed on a regular basis. Any military service contributes to the preservation of the existing situation, and therefore our conscience does not allow us to take part in a system that performs the actions described.

The problem in the military system is not confined to the extent of the injuries it wreaks on Palestinian society; it also seeps into the everyday life of Israeli society: it shapes education in schools and the opportunities in the labor market, and causes racism and violence within the society as well as and ethnic, national and gender discrimination.

We refuse to assist the military system to promote and perpetuate male superiority. In our opinion the army encourages a violent and militaristic masculine ideal of “might is right”. This ideal injures all of us, especially those who do not fit this characterization. In addition, we oppose the power system of repressive gender discrimination that also exists within the military framework itself.

We refuse to give up our principles and our values as a precondition for our integration into our society. Our refusal is an outcome of in-depth thinking, and we accept the consequences of our choice.

We call on young people of our age, on soldiers in regular and reserves service, and on all citizens of the State of Israel, to reconsider their position with regard to the Occupation, to the draft, and to the army’s role in our society. We believe that it is within the power and the capacities of the citizens to change the existing situation, and to create a fairer and more just society, and our refusal is an expression of this belief.

Rachel Leah Jones

להלן נוסח מכתב הסרבניות והסרבנים 2014:

אנו אזרחי/ות מדינת ישראל, מיועדות/ים לגיוס לצבא.
אנו פונות לקוראי/ות מכתב זה בהזמנה להניח בצד את הברור מאליו, ולשקול מחדש את משמעות השירות בצבא.

אנו החתומות/ים מטה מתכוונות/ים לסרב להתגייס, והסיבה העיקרית לסרובנו היא התנגדותנו לכיבוש השטחים הפלסטינים על ידי הצבא. הפלסטינים בשטחים הכבושים חיים תחת שלטון ממשלת ישראל, על אף שלא בחרו בה ואינם יכולים להשפיע באופן חוקי על קבלת ההחלטות שלה. מצב זה אינו שיוויוני ואינו צודק.

בשטחים אלו מופרות זכויות אדם ומתבצעות פעולות הנחשבות לפשעי מלחמה על פי החוק הבינ”ל על בסיס קבוע, כגון חיסולים – הוצאות להורג ללא משפט, בניית התנחלויות בשטח כבוש, מעצרים מנהליים, עינויים, ענישה קולקטיבית וחלוקה לא שיוויונית של משאבים כמו מים וחשמל. כל שירות צבאי תורם לשימור המצב הקיים, ולכן, על פי מצפוננו, איננו יכולות/ים לקחת חלק במערכת אשר מבצעת את המעשים שתוארו.

הבעיה במערכת הצבאית אינה מסתכמת בגבולות הפגיעה בחברה הפלסטינית, אלא מחלחלת לחיי היום יום בחברה בישראל: היא מעצבת את החינוך בבתי הספר, ההזדמנויות בשוק העבודה, וגורמת לגזענות ולאלימות בתוך החברה ולאפליה אתנית, לאומית ומגדרית.

אנו מסרבות לסייע למערכת הצבאית לקדם ולהנציח את העליונות הגברית. לדעתנו הצבא מעודד אידיאל גברי אלים ומיליטריסטי של “החזק שולט”. אידיאל זה פוגע בכולנו, ובעיקר במי שאינו/ה תואמ/ת דמות זו. נוסף על כך, אנו מתנגדות למערכת הכוח הדכאנית והמפלה מבחינה מגדרית המתקיימת גם בתוך המסגרת הצבאית עצמה.

אנו מסרבות/ים לוותר על עקרונותינו וערכינו כתנאי להשתלבות בחברה. סירובנו הוא תוצאה של חשיבה מעמיקה ואנו שלמות/ים עם בחירתנו.

אנו קוראות/ים לבני/ות גילנו, לחיילות/ים בשירות סדיר ומילואים ולכלל אזרחי/ות מדינת ישראל, לשקול מחדש את עמדתן/ם בנוגע לכיבוש, לגיוס לצבא ולתפקיד הצבא בחברה. אנו מאמינות/ים בכוחן/ם וביכולתן/ם של האזרחיות/ים לשנות את המציאות הקיימת, וליצור חברה הוגנת וצודקת יותר, וסירובנו הוא ביטוי לאמונה זו.


See Translation

Richard Flantz I’ll also translate what Ayala wrote when she shared this post (paraphrasing, in her second line, the opening line of Hatikva, Israel’s national anthem):

Clear, fluent, to the point.// Our hope is not yet lost to be a free, thinking and reality-choosing people in our country.

Yesterday at 3:45pm · Like · 1

Ayala Shalev .
Wow. Thanks.
And I read somewhere else that it was written by 50 shministim. (:

Yesterday at 4:25pm · Like

Richard Flantz Thanks again… shministim means Year-12-ers… & Nitza told me she read the letter in Haaretz…

Yesterday at 4:47pm · Like · 1

Ayala Shalev .
I don’t get that it makes the same buzz as the original shministim letter. It’s so much harder to be heard today, with so many media channels. It’s not making it to a true public debate, as it should.

Yesterday at 4:56pm · Like

Richard Flantz Yes, well, to once again quote the late Kurt Vonnegut: So it goes.

Yesterday at 5:07pm · Like · 1

Richard Flantz & it’s probably not only the proliferation of media & information transmission since then but also the somewhat different political climate?

Yesterday at 5:21pm · Like · 1

Ayala Shalev Definitely. The political climate here is the worst ever. And it’s going to new heights this week with the three laws they’re about to pass –
אחוז החסימה, הגיוס ומשאל העם.
I was thinking of asking you guys if maybe you want to adopt me.

Yesterday at 5:53pm · Like

Richard Flantz Ayali, if you ever need it, you’ll always find a home here.

Yesterday at 6:00pm · Like · 1

Ayala Shalev .
It’s a comforting thought. Bc it sometimes feels like this place is getting scarier by the minute.
Thanks for that.

Yesterday at 6:37pm · Like

Ayala Shalev .
Look – Lapid’s reaction to the letter. I can’t even begin to describe how this makes me feel…

Yesterday at 6:48pm · Like

Richard Flantz But Ayali, in this political climate how would you not expect such responses? Isn’t Yair Lapid essentially expressing what is most probably the opinion of the majority that elected the present government coalition (& similar governments before it)? To let English readers get a glimpse of that opinion, I’ve translated Lapid’s remarks too:

48 hours before we vote on the “Sharing of the Burden” law, tens of Year-12ers sign a letter calling for draft-refusal.
For a start, this should be called by its right name: this isn’t draft-refusal, this is draft-dodging.
These youngsters don’t wear shtreimels, but they too are extreme Dreaders [the Hebrew word that is usually Englished as ‘ultra-orthodox’ is Haredim (with a guttural H), which means Dreaders (those who are in awe & dread {of God})]. [They’re s]ecular Neturei-Karta who think that if they believe in something then it’s all right to send others to bear the burden and to risk their lives instead of them.
One lot hides in the tent of Torah, the other in the tent of hypocrisy.
Secular draft-dodging is not an ideology, it is the self-pampering of sated youngsters who think they have a right to everything and that there are others – your children and mine – who have to serve instead of them.

21 hours ago · Like · 1

Ayala Shalev Sadly, it is. Or at least, it’s the voting majority. Although Lapid, when he appeared on the political map last year, gave hope to light left wingers as well. His real face, and abilities, were exposed only after he was so overwhelmingly elected.
I wrote on his wall, in response to this post of his:
תתבייש. במקום לפתוח את הדיון הציבורי המתבקש ולהתייחס לנקודות שהם מצביעים עליהן, אתה רומס אותם תחת ססמאות נבובות ועושה דה-לגיטימציה לדבר החשוב הזה. וכשזה בא ממך, זה עוד יותר חמור מאשר אילו זה בא מהאח ההוא שלך, בנט, כי בך האמינו שתשנה.
איך אתה ישן בלילה.
And still, I haven’t lost complete hope that things will be different in the future. Sometimes I don’t know why.

2 hours ago · Like

Ayala Shalev And Lapid is known for blocking people who oppose him and write too many comments on his wall. Which is unbelievable in itself. I haven’t been blocked so far.

2 hours ago · Like

Richard Flantz I think what it will take is what seems now unimaginable: a transformation of consciousness
that creates a significant majority of both Israel & Filastini voters who are able
to separate & free their national identity from their idea of their national state,
to respect one another’s societal entities, religions, languages, cultures, histories –
before which must come from each side to the other
due acknowledgment, due apologies,
due compensations for whatever they are due.
Hope is in the cyber hyper generation, who else?

Ayala Shalev .
Transformation of consciousness is definitely needed. From what I know, that’s a personal process, each in his own time. From what I see, it is happening. Slowly. It has a slow pace. And it has a lot of shit and brainwashing and indoctrination to work through. There are the people who are awakening, thinking, seeing. And then there are those who keep digging their heels into the ground and refusing to release and move forward. Like our PM for instance.

I hope the first group will come out winning. Sometimes it’s really trying to hold that hope. (:

Richard Flantz I agree with you, & think that if you can write what you just wrote here there are definitely grounds for hope. Slowly, slowly, yes, but also (slowly for now) accelerating… Ayali, I’d like to re-post this entire conversation in a way that others can see & share it — but only if that’s ok with you. Is it?

Ayala Shalev .
Sure. (: Happily.

34 minutes ago · Like


2 thoughts on “Hope for Palestine (Filastin/Eretz-Yisrael)?

  1. Thanks Richard. The letter from the students is a good reminder of how some of the best criticism of Israel and Zionism is from Israel. The Ukrainian crisis reminds me of the roots of political Zionism in reaction to Russian national chauvinism, and that so much of contemporary Israeli politics still seems umbilically linked to Russian chauvinism. Best, Martin


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