A Teenage War Resister in Israel

An Antiwar Story from the Embattled Middle East
He is a rarity in his own land, one of only a handful of refuseniks living in Israel.

“Let us fight together for human rights, for a country that is democratic for all its citizens, and for Israelis and Palestinians to live together based on citizenship and equality, not segregation and racism.”
Ahmed Abu Artema

Rory Fanning, TomDispatch, March 18, 2019

Hilel Garmi’s phone is going straight to voicemail and all I’m hoping is that he’s not back in prison. I’ll soon learn that he is.

Prison 6 is a military prison. It’s situated in the Israeli coastal town of Atlit, a short walk from the Mediterranean Sea and less than an hour’s drive from Hilel’s home. It was constructed in 1957 following the Sinai War between Israel and Egypt to house disciplinary cases from the Israeli Defense Forces, or IDF.

Hilel has already been locked up six times. “I can smell the sea from my cell, especially at night when everything is quiet,” he tells me in one of our phone conversations. I’m 6,000 miles away in Chicago, but Hilel and I have regularly been discussing his ordeal as an Israeli war resister, so it makes me nervous that, this time around, I can’t reach him at all.

A recent high-school graduate with dark hair and a big smile, he’s only 19 and still lives with his parents in Yodfat, an Israeli town of less than 900 people in the northern part of the country. It’s 155 miles to Damascus (if such a trip were possible, which, of course, it isn’t), a two-hour drive down the coast to Tel Aviv, and a four-hour drive to besieged Gaza.

Yodfat itself could be a set for a Biblical movie, with its dry rolling hills, ancient ruins, and pastoral landscape. The town exports flower bulbs, as well as organic goat cheese, and notably supports the Misgav Waldorf School that Hilel’s mother helped found. Hilel is proud of his mom. After all, people commute from all over Israel to attend the school.

He is a rarity in his own land, one of only a handful of refuseniks living in Israel. Each year roughly 30,000 18 year olds are drafted into the IDF, although 35% of such draftees manage to avoid military service for religious reasons. A far tinier percentage publicly refuses to fight for moral and political reasons to protest their country’s occupation of Palestinian lands. The exact numbers are hard to find. I’ve asked war resister groups in Israel, but no one seems to have any. Hilel’s estimate: between five and 15 refuseniks a year.

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March 26 – April 14, 2019
Naila and the Uprising

On Wisconsin Public Television’s Women, War & Peace

Tuesday, March 26 8:00 pm on WPT 26-1
Wednesday, March 27 2:00 am on WPT 26-1
Sunday, April 14 9:00 pm on The Wisconsin Channel 26-2

Discover the story of a courageous, non-violent women’s movement that formed the heart of the Palestinian struggle for freedom during the 1987 uprising, known as the first Intifada. One woman must make a choice between love, family and freedom. Undaunted, she embraces all three.

During the Intifada, women weren’t just following orders, we were instrumental in making decisions alongside men.

We want our home land!
We want to live free.

Women’s resistance went hand-in-hand with national resistance.

There is a discussion guide available to help you learn more about women’s leadership, unarmed civil resistance and grassroots organizing in Israel-Palestine.

March 23, 2019
David Rovics in Madison

Wil-Mar Community Center
953 Jenifer St, Madison

Workshop 3:00 pm
The Role of Music in Social Movements And Popular Education – Workshop / Teach-In / Discussion – with radical folksingers and labor activists, David Rovics and Anne Feeney! Free with pizza!

Concert 7:00 pm
David Rovics Live! – a night of lefty folk music with this longtime radical singer-songwriter and international activist!

Both events hosted by the Madison Branch of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).

Tickets and More Info

Just World Podcasts on Palestine

Story/Backstory, episode 1:
The longer arc of U.S.-Palestine relations

Helena Cobban, February 22, 2019

This is the first episode in our new “Story/Backstory” miniseries, which combines both the reading by JWE president Helena Cobban of her most recent 1,300-word op-ed on U.S. policies in the Middle East, with a slightly longer segment in which she reflects on some of the issues raised by the op-ed. For more details, visit the blog on our website.

All Episodes

Gal Gadot hits out at Netanyahu over ‘Jewish people’ comment

“Israel is not a state for all its citizens. According to the nation-state law that we passed, Israel is the state of the Jewish people — and belongs to them alone,” Netanyahu wrote.

F. Brinley Bruton and Yael Factor, NBC News, March 11, 2019

“Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot waded into the debate over what it means to be Israeli after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the country is the homeland “only of the Jewish people.”

“Love thy neighbor,” the Israeli actress said Sunday on Instagram, where she has 28.3 million followers.

“It is not a matter of right or left, Arabs or Jews, secular or religious,” she added. “It is a matter of dialogue, of dialogue for peace, and of our tolerance for each other. It is our responsibility to shine hope and light for a better future for our children.”

Earlier Sunday, Netanyahu addressed “slightly confused people” on Instagram after model and actor Rotem Sela — a friend of Gadot’s — defended the rights of Arab Israelis. The minority makes up around 20 percent of the country’s population.

“Israel is not a state for all its citizens. According to the nation-state law that we passed, Israel is the state of the Jewish people — and belongs to them alone,” Netanyahu wrote.

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New York Jewish Voice for Peace Proud to #StandWithIlhan

Dear Rep. Engel and Rep. Lowey,

We, members of the Westchester chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, are your constituents. And we proudly #StandWithIlhan.

Many of our colleagues and allies have already robustly and eloquently called out the dishonesty, Islamophobia, and anti-Black racism evident in Democratic leaders’ swarming attack on Rep. Omar. We echo those views, and note that your actions do nothing to counter the real and growing threat of antisemitism in this country and around the world.

But we wish to address a different point that your attacks on Rep. Omar seek to suppress, namely that your fidelity to the Israel lobby is inconsistent with your responsibilities as our elected representatives in Congress.

This non-exhaustive list highlights some of our areas of concern:

  1. The most glaring recent example of your willingness to subvert the essential obligation of your office — to uphold our Constitution — is your determination to enact lobby-drafted laws that would penalize Americans for exercising their Constitutional right to free speech that criticizes Israel. There is no way to dress up this legislation as anything other than an effort to silence legitimate, Constitutionally-protected speech and debate on questions of significant importance. Shame on you both.

  2. Where the State of Israel has pursued policies that are contrary to US interests and long-held policy you have thrown your support behind Israel, as you both did, for example, in opposing the JCPOA (multilateral Iran nuclear deal); condemning the US abstention on the UN Security Council vote acknowledging the illegality of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine; and supporting relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem. These positions are incomprehensible to us; they weaken the rule of law and the cause of peace and stability in the region.

  3. For years we have watched in amazement and disgust as both of you impugn the mountains of findings of fact and conclusions of law by actual experts, documenting Israel’s extensive and systematic violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, as well as of essential norms concerning interstate relations like the prohibition against the acquisition of territory through force — and uncritically spout dishonest and discredited lobby-drafted talking points to justify your support for those policies of oppression. We deserve representatives who are willing to countenance real facts, even if those facts challenge their long-held beliefs.

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February 25, 2019
Black Americans and Palestinian Solidarity

UW Multicultural Center
716 Langdon Street
Madison
8:15 pm – 9:15 pm

General meeting of UW-Madison Students for Justice in Palestine discusses the history of Black and Palestinian oppression and the roles that both have played in fighting it.

Other topics will include recognizing interconnections, co-opting struggles, and avoiding the conflation of these struggles. Free and open to the public. More info on Facebook.

Death of Detainee Fares Baroud: An Example of Deliberate Negligence


Palestinian Center for Human Rights
Ref: 16/2019, February 7, 2019

 

Yesterday, 06 February 2019, a Palestinian detainee who spent 28 years in Israeli jails, Fares Mohammed Baroud (51), from al-Shati’ refugee camp in western Gaza City, died only hours after transfer from “Ramon” Prison to “Soroka” Hospital in circumstances raising suspicions of deliberate medical negligence by the Israeli authorities, especially since he suffered problems in the stomach, heart and liver. PCHR calls for an immediate and impartial investigation into the death circumstances of Baroud and is concerned that the Israeli authorities might have procrastinated in providing Baroud the immediate and appropriate medical treatment. PCHR also condemns the Israeli authorities’ neglect of the recurrent calls to release him though they knew of the deterioration of his health condition.

The Israeli forces arrested Baroud on 23 March 1991 and issued a life imprisonment sentence against him in addition to 35 years. Baroud had suffered many health problems during his detention in the Israeli jails, including problems of the stomach, kidney, liver and chest, in addition to suffering asthma. He was also placed for years in solitary confinement; the last was for 4 years consecutively between 2012 and 2016, causing a deterioration of his health condition. Last year, he underwent a surgery to remove part of his liver and suffered complications; however, the Israeli authorities did not offer him adequate treatment. Yesterday, 06 February 2019, his health condition rapidly deteriorated and he was taken to “Soroko” Hospital in Beersheba in Israel where his death was declared only hours after his arrival at the hospital.

The death of Baroud sheds light on the general deterioration of Palestinian detainee conditions in Israeli jails, showing the extent of the punitive measures taken against them, particularly the medical negligence they undergo and the inadequate treatment hundreds of patients receive, particularly those suffering from chronic and serious diseases.

Thus, PCHR holds the Israeli government fully responsible for the death of detainee Baroud and lives of dozens of sick detainees who would face the same fate if the policy of medical negligence continued while detaining them in inhuman and tough conditions, being subject to physical and psychological torture and not receiving adequate healthcare. At this time, PCHR:

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Honor Dr. Angela Davis

This February, join USCPR and the Dream Defenders by showing solidarity with all the radical voices that continue to be silenced for speaking up against injustice, from the US to Palestine.

On January 4, 2019, bowing to pressure from Zionist members of the Birmingham community, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) voted to rescind its decision to bestow its highest honor, the Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award, on renowned Black scholar and activist Angela Davis. Dr. Davis is the latest in a long line of Black internationalist voices to be attacked for their support of Palestine.

Leaders like Dr. Davis are targeted because they articulate the connections between global systems of oppression bearing down on Indigenous, Black, brown, queer, and other marginalized communities. They recognize that white supremacy, settler colonialism, imperialism, capitalism, and heteropatriarchy all reinforce each other and cannot be fought in isolation. Work for justice for one community must be part of a vision of justice for all.

“Black solidarity with Palestine allows us to understand the nature of contemporary racism more deeply.” – Angela Davis

Since the BCRI’s decision to revoke the Shuttlesworth Award was announced, there has been an outpouring of support for Dr. Davis from progressives and activists across movements. The BCRI has reconsidered its decision, and a diverse, intergenerational cross-section of grassroots and community leaders in Birmingham announced an alternative public event to honor Dr. Davis on February 16, the day she was supposed to receive the BCRI award.

Join us in honoring Dr. Angela Davis and the uncompromising ideals with which she has fought injustice.


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ADC Stands With Congresswoman Ilhan Omar!

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), February 12, 2019

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) unequivocally condemns all attacks and mischaracterizations against Representative Ilhan Omar for her outspoken position in support of Palestinian human rights. It is absurd that Representative Omar is being targeted for exercising her legal right to question the influence of AIPAC, one of the most influential special interest groups in the U.S. for the last twenty years.

The American people expect elected representatives to be transparent on special interest funding, and most polls show support for campaign finance reform. Representative Omar has the responsibility as a member of Congress to use her platform to question the influence that special interest groups have on U.S. policies; it is precisely why she was elected by her constituency.

Let us be clear, these attacks are not new and have absolutely nothing to do with anti-Semitism. The fictitious statements including those coming from one of the most xenophobic and racist Presidents in history, confirms that these attacks are rooted in a continued pattern and practice of vicious, bigoted, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-Black rhetoric that started before Representative Omar was elected. To falsely conflate anti-Semitism, is dangerous to the victims of true anti-Semitism, as we tragically saw in Charlottesville and at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Ohio.

ADC is equally disturbed by the growing trend in the U.S. to undermine civil liberties when it comes to engaging in Palestinian human rights work. This is best exemplified in the recent congressional efforts to punish those who peacefully exercise their First Amendment right to boycott. The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) is not anti-Semitic, in fact it is against anti-Semitism and all forms of racism. Indeed, the U.S. Palestinian human rights movement condemns the very hate that it is being falsely linked to.

As, Palestinians continue to endure violations committed by Israel with impunity, Representative Omar’s questioning of the U.S. role should be applauded. Just last week, Israel shot and killed two Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip, including a 14-year-old Palestinian boy. In 2018 alone, Israel killed 57 Palestinian children. It is the duty of all members Congress to question AIPAC’s substantial influence on U.S. policies and its role to shield Israel from accountability.

We commend Representative Omar and other members of Congress that stand up for the values that this country claims to uphold, justice and dignity for all. Thank you for taking a principled position in defense of human rights and justice for all. ADC is proud to stand with you.

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