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Orfud – Refuse, your people will protect you

Orfud protest in Israel-Palestine
Photo: AFSC

In 1949, after the establishment of the state of Israel, minorities were exempted from compulsory service in the Israeli Army. But in 1956, the policy changed, and Palestinian Druze youth were mandated to serve. Compulsory recruitment led to massive objections among the Druze people, and the consequent formation of the Druze Initiative Committee. This Committee assists young Druze who refuse to serve in the Israeli Army.

Israeli policies--designed to divide Palestinian unity--have unfortunately succeeded in setting a social and cultural gap between Druze and the rest of the Palestinians. Initially the movement did not garner public awareness since a number of cases of refusals remained undisclosed. Today, the movement consists of young Druze and non-Druze men and women, from different age groups and stemming from various Palestinian areas, who have united both to resist the compulsory service forced on the Arab Druze youth, but also to resist all forms of military recruitment that the Israeli institution is trying to impose on the Palestinians inside the Jewish state.

The movement works to accompany young men who refuse military service, and to widen the base of those who refuse to serve in the Israeli army and their supporters. The group also works with the media, organizes protests, and produces and publishes songs and short films to spread awareness.

Orfud concentrates its work on those who publicly announce their refusal to serve in the Israeli army in order to raise attention to this issue nationally and internationally. It also concentrates on the political, economic, social, and academic injustices that Druze especially face through this forced recruitment.

In addition, the group works on intra-Palestinian communication in order to highlight the unity of their cause, to break the boundaries put up by the Israeli occupation, and to alter the dominant preconceived ideas people have.

The group organizes and promotes a series of demonstrations in front of prisons in support of the individuals who refuse to serve in the army. The group’s founders led a public media campaign in collaboration with Ahl Jordanian foundation under the title: "Orfod, sha'abak yehmeek", ("Refuse, Your people will protect you").

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