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Mai Omer

peace team ottawa Israeli Mai Omer, 18, has decided to refuse to serve in the Israeli Army and is advocating Israel's withdrawal of the Occupied Territories. She is one of this year's organizer of Shministim, conscientious objectors aged 15-18, and an active member of anti-militaristic New Profile movement, "The Movement to Civil-ize Israel." She is in Ottawa to speak out against the occupation of the Palestinian territories.

7:00 P.M., Monday, March 3
302 Azrieli Theatre, Carleton University


Michtav Shministim

The letter below was written by a group of Israeli youths (aged 15-18), declaring their intention to object to participating in the atrocities committed by the Israeli army. It is a so called 'michtav shministim' (twelfth-graders' letter). For those of you who live in Israel or used to live here the term would be familiar, as three such letters (in fact, three letters with a much less clear phrasing) sent by youths in the early 70s and late 80s received great media attention and started major public debates.

Here's the text of the letter:

19 Aug, 2001
To: Prime Minister Ariel Sharon

We, the undersigned, youths who grew up and were brought up in Israel, are about to be called to serve in the IDF. We protest before you against the aggressive and racist policy pursued by the Israeli government's and its army, and to inform you that we do not intend to take part in the execution of this policy.

We strongly resist Israel's pounding of human rights. Land expropriation, arrests, executions without a trial, house demolition, closure, torture, and the prevention of health care are only some of the crimes the state of Israel carries out, in blunt violation of international conventions it has ratified.

These actions are not only illegitimate; they do not even achieve their stated goal - increasing the citizens' personal safety. Such safety will be achieved only through a just peace agreement between the Israeli government and the Palestinian people.

Therefore we will obey our conscience and refuse to take part in acts of oppression against the Palestinian people, acts that should properly be called terrorist actions. We call upon persons our age, conscripts, soldiers in the standing army, and reserve service soldiers to do the same.


One year later: http://www.shministim.org/english_letter.htm

To the Prime Minister, Mr. Ariel Sharon,

It has been a year now since we, 62 Israeli boys and girls raised in Israel, sent you a letter announcing that we will not take part in the continuing oppression of the Palestinian people. Today, with a worse situation in Israel and in the Territories, we say it again, together with many who have joined us: we refuse to be soldiers of the occupation.

The state of Israel commits war-crimes and tramples over human rights, destroying Palestinian cities, towns and villages; expropriating land, detaining and executing without trial, conducting mass-demolition of houses, businesses, and public institutions; looting, closure, curfew, torture, preventing the administration of medical care, constructing and expanding settlements - All these actions are opposed to human morality, and violate international treaties ratified by Israel. In these and other actions Israel systematically prevents Palestinians from maintaining any reasonable life. This reality leads to suffering, fear, and despair, which yield terror attacks. Therefore, the occupation is not only immoral; but it also damages the security of Israel's citizens and residents. Such security will be achieved only through a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

When the elected government tramples over democratic values and the chances for a just peace in the region, we have no choice but to obey our conscience and refuse to take part in the attack on the Palestinian people. As youth about to be called to serve in the military we pledge to do all that we see fit so as not to serve the occupation. Some of us will refuse to serve beyond the green line, others will avoid military service in other ways - we view all these means as legitimate and necessary, and we call on other youth, conscripts, soldiers in the standing army, and reserve service soldiers to do the same.