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Druze refuser speaks into megaphone
Military refuser Uriel Ferera, part of the refusers letter – 2014, speaking to his supporters on the day of his imprisonment.      Photo: Refusers letter 2014 / AFSC

Israel Social TV

Israel Social TV is an independent media organization that works to promote social change, human rights, equality and social justice, and to mobilize its viewers towards activism. Israel Social TV does not accept commercial advertisements or governmental support, but relies on its own self-generating income activities, viewers and donations. This allows Social TV to remain independent from state and corporate influences.

Operating since 2006, Social TV was established out of the belief that objective and diverse media is crucial for a healthy democracy in Israel. Social TV reports on social injustices and human rights violations, and serves to amplify the voices of marginalized groups that in many instances represent unpopular opinions. Social TV cooperates closely with other organizations for social change. This allows for visibility of their work and agendas, which are often not covered in mainstream media.

AFSC has been working with Israel Social TV on a series of stories showing the militarization of Israeli society from different angles, including education and memory, language, social mobility and more.

For more information visit: http://tv.social.org.il/en

 

Orfud – Refuse, your people will protect you

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").

For more information: http://www.irefuse.info


New Profile

New Profile is a feminist movement founded in 1998 to counter the militarization of Israeli society. Its name derives from the fact that every high school student in Israel is given a medical profile by the army. This profile serves to determine the placement of each soldier in either a combat or non-combat unit and also identifies those unfit for military service.

Conscription in Israel is only part of the militarization of Israeli society. Militarization is present in the educational system, media, advertisements, street names, political discourse and even social struggles. New Profile seeks to raise public awareness about the intrusion of militarism into so many aspects of life in Israel, to make militarism visible, and to give youth an alternative.

New Profile hosts youth groups in major cities in Israel, giving youth a safe space to make up their own minds about conscription. For the past eight years, New Profile has also organized a week-long summer camp for youth ages 15-20. These camps include workshops on political issues, occupation, joint actions with other activists, tours, gender, and the environment. AFSC helps fund these summer camps as a way to foster and develop ties among those who see occupation and oppression as a main obstacle to lasting peace and justice.

The New Profile consulting network assists people who do not wish to serve in the army. The network offers alternative information not offered by the army. It also supports youth from the moment they make the decision not to serve, through the legal process of acquiring the status of conscientious objector or release on grounds of being mentally unfit, until they are released from the military system. The network works with anyone who wishes to be released from military service: Youth before conscription, soldiers during their service and reserve service soldiers.

New Profile supports conscientious objectors, legally and technically, once when they are imprisoned for their refusal to serve in the army. It also provides political support, including liaising with the media and organizing support demonstrations.

New Profile have a portable exhibition that makes visible the symbols of militarism in everyday life. The exhibition has been shown in schools, youth groups, galleries and pre-military academies. At several instances, it was accompanied by workshops given by New Profile activists. The exhibition, originally in Hebrew, has also been translated into English and is now being translated into French as well.

AFSC was itself founded by conscientious objectors during World War I. It has been a supporter of  New Profile since its origins in 1998.

For more information about New Profile please visit their website: http://www.newprofile.org/english/ or contact then directly: info@newprofile.org

 

The Druze Initiative Committee

The Druze Initiative Committee supports Druze citizens of Israel who refuse to serve in the Israeli military. The Arab Druze minority lived in historic Palestine on the current territory of Israel before Zionist immigration began. By the 1930s, the Jewish leaders in Palestine were making efforts to distance the Druze community from the rest of the Palestinian community through presenting the Druze faith as unique and distinct from Islam and exerting influence over the Druze leadership. After the creation of the state of Israel, this “divide and conquer” policy continued and the Druze were singled out for greater financial and political support than other Palestinians. They were registered as a separate ethno-religious group in Israeli, identified in official identification documents as “Druze”, not “Arab,” and a separate education system was created for them. In 1956, military conscription was mandated for Druze men.

The Druze community showed considerable resistance to conscription, and within 2 years the first Druze youth organization supporting refusal of military service was established. This stemmed the Druze Initiative Committee, which is still active today. The Druze Initiative Committee currently supports Druze conscientious objectors, and is also involved in other political and social work such as opposing the confiscation of Druze land for the expansion of Jewish towns.

AFSC has a long history of supporting conscientious objectors, and we are happy to give organizational support to raising up the voices of young Druze conscientious objectors.Over the years, Druze refusers suffered harsh treatment from the military system. They were given double or greater prison terms than those of other refusers. Between 1958 and 2006, the young men of the town of Peki’in alone (5,500 inhabitants, including 3,800 of whom are Druze) spent a total of 540 years in military prison. The Druze Initiative Committee works not only to support refusers, but also to challenge the militarization of Druze education. Samer Swaid, Secretary of the Druze Initiative Committee, remembers that during his own school years the only career advice offered was from four military recruiters and the only work experience visits he made was to Israeli military camps and bases.

 

The refusers letter – 2014

On March 3rd, 2014 a group of 50 Israeli youth ages 16-20 signed a public letter declaring their refusal to serve in the Israeli military. This was an act of protest against the implementation of military rule on Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories, the militarization of Israeli society, and the military’s part in maintaining gender, racial, ethnic and economic inequality in Israel. In their letter they wrote:

“We appeal to our peers, to those currently serving in the army and/or reserve duty, and to the Israeli public at large, to reconsider their stance on the occupation, the army, and the role of the military in civil society. We believe in the power and ability of civilians to change reality for the better by creating a more fair and just society. Our refusal expresses this belief.”

Over 50 more youth joined them, and they are now an active movement organizing vigils in support of Conscientious Objectors, online campaigns to highlight imprisoned military refusers and their objection to occupation and militarization, and trying to introduce these issues into Israeli and international media outlets.

Two members of the group who signed the letter have already been imprisoned, and more are expected to be sentenced in the coming months.

AFSC is helping the movement build its website, conduct meetings with other partners, and extend its network.

For the full letter and more information: https://www.facebook.com/refusingIDF/info

 

In addition to the above-mentioned partners, AFSC’s Israel program works in cooperation and facilitates ongoing projects and ties with many more organizations and groups in Israeli civil society. These include the following:

Zochrot

Zochrot is an Israeli organization that brings the issues of the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) and the right of return to Jewish Israeli audiences in Hebrew. The organization works in various ways, documenting, mapping, and collecting testimonies about the Nakba and destroyed Palestinian villages, teaching workshops and curriculums about the Nakba, and looking at models of healing justice, accountability and practicalities of Palestinian return.

For more information, please visit: http://www.zochrot.org/en

Coalition of Women for Peace (CWP)

The Coalition of Women for Peace (CWP) is a feminist organization against the occupation of Palestine and advocates for a just peace. Throughout the years, CWP has been a leading feminist voice within the Israeli anti-occupation movement and human rights community, and a leading anti-occupation and militarization voice within the feminist movement. CWP supports, empowers and assists human rights activists and organizations, particularly women’s and youth groups, as well as leading local and international protest actions and campaigns.

For more information visit: http://www.coalitionofwomen.org/?lang=en

Who Profits

Who Profits is dedicated to exposing the commercial involvement of companies in the continuing Israeli control over Palestinian and Syrian land. The project publishes information about these companies, produces in-depth reports, and serves as an information center.

For more information visit: http://www.whoprofits.org/

Yesh Gvul:

Yesh Gvul (“There is a limit !”) is an Israeli peace group campaigning against the occupation by backing soldiers who refuse duties of a repressive or aggressive nature. The organization gives refusers moral and material backing ranging from financial support for families of jailed refusers to vigils at the military prisons where they are held. Whenever a refuser is jailed, Yesh Gvul brings his protest to the attention of the public as a model for the broader peace movement, and as a way to educate others in a similar dilemma.

For more information visit: http://www.yeshgvul.org.il/en/about-2/

For more information about the AFSC Israel program, Please contact: Sahar Vardi at svardi@afsc.org

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