Israeli high school students refuse to join the Israeli military citing the “continuing Nakba”

Young people our age are required to take part in enforcing closures as a means of “collective punishment,” arresting and jailing minors, blackmailing to recruit “collaborators” and more– all of these are war crimes which are executed and covered up every day.

Sixty Israeli high school students sign letter refusing their compulsory enlistment in the Israeli military – “The Zionist policy of brutal violence towards and expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and lands began in 1948 and has not stopped since.”

We are a group of Israeli 18-year-olds at a crossroads. The Israeli state is demanding our conscription into the military.

Allegedly, a defense force which is supposed to safeguard the existence of the State of Israel.

In reality, the goal of the Israeli military is not to defend itself from hostile militaries, but to exercise control over a civilian population.

In other words, our conscription to the Israeli military has political context and implications.

It has implications, first and foremost on the lives of the Palestinian people who have lived under violent occupation for 72 years.

Indeed, the Zionist policy of brutal violence towards and expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and lands began in 1948 and has not stopped since.

The occupation is also poisoning Israeli society–it is violent, militaristic, oppressive, and chauvinistic.

It is our duty to oppose this destructive reality by uniting our struggles and refusing to serve these violent systems–chief among them the military.

Our refusal to enlist to the military is not an act of turning our backs on Israeli society. On the contrary, our refusal is an act of taking responsibility over our actions and their repercussions.

The military is not only serving the occupation, the military is the occupation.

Pilots, intelligence units, bureaucratic clerks, combat soldiers, all are executing the occupation.

One does it with a keyboard and the other with a machine gun at a checkpoint.

Despite all of this, we grew up in the shadow of the symbolic ideal of the heroic soldier.

We prepared food baskets for him in the high holidays, we visited the tank he fought in, we pretended we were him in the pre-military programs in high school, and we revered his death on memorial day.

The fact that we are all accustomed to this reality does not make it apolitical. Enlistment, no less than refusal, is a political act.

We are used to hearing that it is legitimate to criticize the occupation only if we took an active part in enforcing it.

How does it make sense that in order to protest against systemic violence and racism, we have to first be part of the very system of oppression we are criticizing?

The track upon which we embark at infancy, of an education teaching violence and claims over land, reaches its peak at age 18, with the enlistment in the military.

We are ordered to put on the bloodstained military uniform and preserve the legacy of the Nakba and of occupation.

Israeli society has been built upon these rotten roots, and it is apparent in all facets of life: in the racism, the hateful political discourse, the police brutality, and more.

This military oppression goes hand in hand with economic oppression.

While the citizens of the Occupied Palestinian Territories are impoverished, wealthy elites become richer at their expense.

Palestinian workers are systematically exploited, and the weapons industry uses the Occupied Palestinian Territories as a testing ground and as a showcase to bolster its sales.

When the government chooses to uphold the occupation, it is acting against our interest as citizens– large portions of taxpayer money is funding the “security” industry and the development of settlements instead of welfare, education, and health.

The military is a violent, corrupt, and corrupting institution to the core.

But its worst crime is enforcing the destructive policy of the occupation of Palestine.

Young people our age are required to take part in enforcing closures as a means of “collective punishment,” arresting and jailing minors, blackmailing to recruit “collaborators” and more– all of these are war crimes which are executed and covered up every day.

Violent military rule in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is enforced through policies of apartheid entailing two different legal systems: one for Palestinians and the other for Jews.

The Palestinians are constantly faced with undemocratic and violent measures, while Jewish settlers who commit violent crimes– first and foremost against Palestinians but also against soldiers- are “rewarded” by the Israeli military turning a blind eye and covering up these transgressions.

The military has been enforcing a siege on Gaza for over ten years.

This siege has created a massive humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip and is one of the main factors which perpetuates the cycle of violence of Israel and Hamas.

Because of the siege, there is no drinkable water nor electricity in Gaza for most hours of the day.

Unemployment and poverty are pervasive and the healthcare system lacks the most basic means. This reality serves as the foundation on top of which the disaster of COVID-19 has only made things worse in Gaza.

It is important to emphasize that these injustices are not a one-time slippage or straying away from the path.

These injustices are not a mistake or a symptom, they are the policy and the disease.

The actions of the Israeli military in 2020 are nothing but a continuation and upholding of the legacy of massacre, expulsion of families, and land theft, the legacy which “enabled” the establishment of the State of Israel, as a proper democratic state, for Jews only.

Historically, the military has been seen as a tool which serves the “melting pot” policy, as an institution which crosscuts social class and gender divides in Israeli society.

In reality, this could not be further from the truth.

The military is enacting a clear program of ‘channeling’; soldiers from upper-middle class are channeled into positions with economic and civilian prospects, while soldiers from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are channeled into positions which have high mental and physical risk and which do not provide the same head start in civil society.

Simultaneously, women’s representation in violent positions such as pilots, tank commanders, combat soldiers, and intelligence officers, is being marketed as feminist achievement.

How does it make sense that the struggle against gender inequality is achieved through the oppression of Palestinian women?

These “achievements” sidestep solidarity with the struggle of Palestinian women. The military is cementing these power relations and the oppression of marginalized communities through a cynical co-opting of their struggles.

We are calling for high school seniors (shministiyot) our age to ask themselves: What and who are we serving when we enlist in the military? Why do we enlist? What reality do we create by serving in the military of the occupation? We want peace, and real peace requires justice.

Justice requires acknowledgment of the historical and present injustices, and of the continuing Nakba.

Justice requires reform in the form of the end of the occupation, the end of the siege on Gaza, and recognition of the right of return for Palestinian refugees. Justice demands solidarity, joint struggle, and refusal.

The letter is addressed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, army Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi, Minister of Defense Benny Gantz and Education Minister Yoav Galant.

In Israel, conscientious objectors like these are often jailed. In 2003 five male conscientious objectors were sentenced to about 2 years prison.

The longest-serving female conscientious objector is Hillel Kaminer, who was released from prison after 150 days, in 2016.

It is doubtful that those to whom the letter is addressed to will be very affected by it.

The most ‘liberal’ among them is probably Benny Gantz, former army chief of staff, who has boasted of bringing Gaza back to the “stone age” as his entry card into politics two years ago.

Gantz is precisely a depiction of what these ingenious and courageous youths are speaking about when they say that Israeli society is “violent, militaristic, oppressive, and chauvinistic”.

Yet there are many among us who listen very closely to what these young people are saying.

And here they are defining a critical discourse.

The 1967 occupation is not the start and it is not the end.

It is part of Israel’s overarching project of occupation, it’s the state in its entirety, enacting “Apartheid policies” as part of its very nature. The “proper democratic state” is a sad joke, it is for Jews only.

Can Israel conceal War Crimes by Emptying its Archives?

Historian Tamar Novick was jolted by a document she found in the file of Yosef Waschitz, from the Arab Department of the left-wing Mapam Party, in the Yad Yaari archive at Givat Haviva. The document, which seemed to describe events that took place during the 1948 war, began:

“Safsaf [former Palestinian village near Safed] – 52 men were caught, tied them to one another, dug a pit and shot them. 10 were still twitching. Women came, begged for mercy. Found bodies of 6 elderly men. There were 61 bodies. 3 cases of rape, one east of from Safed, girl of 14, 4 men shot and killed. From one they cut off his fingers with a knife to take the ring.”

The writer goes on to describe additional massacres, looting and abuse perpetrated by Israeli forces in Israel’s War of Independence. The Israeli top brass knew about what was going on in real time.

Morris’ footnote (in his seminal “The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949”) states that this document was also found in the Yad Yaari Archive. But when Novick returned to examine the document, she was surprised to discover that it was no longer there.

middle-east-monitor

Haaretz published an investigation carried out by journalist Hagar Shezaf and which revealed how Israel has been systematically hiding the Israeli archive which documented Zionist crimes against Palestinians.

Damaging historical documents or hiding them from researchers is an illegal act. However, Israel has been working hard for decades to black-out the historical records in these documents in an effort not to stain its image before the eyes of the world.

The great Israeli historian Benny Morris said that the Hasbara Department of the Israeli foreign ministry issued in 1969 a booklet authored by his father which denies the Zionist massacre committed against civilians in the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin.

“In the booklet,” Morris said, “it was claimed that there was no massacre in Deir Yassin and that the story about the massacre is supposedly an Arab fiction.”

Israel plans to hide documents relating to the Nakba (violent expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and lands) in an effort to hide its crimes and perpetuate its lies.

Israel prevents journalists and protesters, often killing them.

“The objective is to undermine the credibility of studies about the history of the [Palestine] refugee problem,” Yehiel Horev, former head of the Israeli defense ministry’s security bureau Malmab, explained. He added that “an allegation made by a researcher that’s backed up by an original document is not the same as an allegation that cannot be proved or refuted.”

“If someone were doing this to Holocaust documents, there would be a cry to the heavens. What a shame.”

The Jewish State is actively trying to erase the Nakba (genocide) and any critical discussion of it. Holocaust denial is illegal in Germany – but Nakba denial is not illegal in Israel, and it is thriving.

Happy then, happy now to celebrate their stolen land.

Israeli journalist Jonathan Ofir wrote in Mondoweiss.

If Israel is attempting to erase the Nakba  from its archive in order to bury Palestinian history, civilization, culture and rights, their attempts will fail.

One reason for this is that Israel has not stopped committing war crimes and genocide against Palestinians since its creation in 1948, when its gangs, which became its army, killed thousands of Palestinians – displacing around 800,000 – and demolished over 530 cities and towns and villages. It has continued committing crimes against the Palestinians until this day.

Israel also continues to disregard international laws and conventions, and ignore resolutions issued by international bodies which have been calling for it to respect Palestinians, their rights and allow Palestine refuges to return to their homes.

Contrary to the words of Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, Palestinians have not forgotten their right to the land, their homes and their right of return. “The old [Palestinians] will die and the young will forget,” Ben-Gurion infamously said, however generation after generation Palestinians have passed on their history and their link to the land. Even those in the diaspora have held on to their roots.

Not only have the Palestinians not forgotten Palestine but the whole world of decent people are on their side. Not what Ben Gurion expected!

Another reason why Israel’s policies will fail is that global support for the Palestinians is on the rise, and more is being done to highlight their plight. This has meant that eyes are on Israel’s policies against Palestinians are in the spotlight and are being documented, shared and efforts are being made to hold it accountable.

A number of those working to that end are in Israel. They are reluctant to support the state’s policies regarding its archives. This community is emerging and moving to fight the government’s efforts to hide the crimes it has committed.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor or Informed Comment.

Secret Israeli unit hiding documents to undermine war crimes, massacres and mass expulsions

 2008-2009. During Cast Lead, the Israeli assault on Gaza following exchanges of rocket/missile attacks in months before, more than 1400 Palestinians are killed over 22 days, most of them civilians. the United States does its utmost under President Obama to defend Israel from all charges, and no one is brought to the bar.

At least 54 Lebanese citizens were killed, at least 37 of them children in the Israeli attack on the village of Qana in south Lebanon, 2006. Israel occupation forces: born to kill.

The Defense Ministry’s secretive security department hid evidence of massacres and forced expulsions of Palestinians in 1948 only to ‘ensure information security,’ former director says following Haaretz report

Israel’s Ministry of Defence has been systematically sealing archival documents for at least a decade to conceal evidence of the Nakba, the mass expulsion of 700,000 Palestinians during the Arab-Israeli war of 1948, Haaretz has revealed.

A secretive security department in the defense ministry has overseen the ongoing project, taking historic files and putting them away in vaults. In some cases, historians cited documents in their work that later disappeared, Haaretz reported.

Yehiel Horev, former head of the department which goes by the Hebrew acronym Malmab, told Haaretz that it made sense to hide the details of what happened in 1948 because the documents could “generate unrest” among Palestinians in Israel.

When asked why files were removed that had already been highlighted by researchers and others, Horev said the objective was to undermine the credibility of history written about the era.

Papers on Israel’s nuclear project and the country’s foreign relations were also reportedly transferred to vaults.

Before the Nakba: Images show Palestine then and now

Read More »

Some of the sealed documents reveal details of looting, massacres of Palestinians, forcible expulsion, and demolition of villages by Israeli militias, based on interviews with Israeli generals and soldiers who fought in the 1948 war, Haaretz reported.

A book by Israeli historian Benny Morris – The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949 – referred to one of the documents, quoting details of a massacre in the Palestinian village Safsaf in Galilee, based on notes written about a 1948 briefing given by the former chief of staff of the Haganah, the Israeli army’s predecessor. 

According to what Morris published, the notes said: “Safsaf 52 men tied with a rope. Dropped into a pit and shot. Ten were killed. Women pleaded for mercy. [There were] three cases of rape. Caught and released. A girl of 14 was raped. Another four were killed.”

This document, along with others, has disappeared from the Israeli archive, after Malmab’s team censored them, according to Haaretz.

A brief, unhappy history of Israeli massacres. By far this does not cover it all.

“Israeli” Documents: US Provided Cover for Sabra, Shatila Massacre HERE

1946. Zionist militias blow up the south wing of the King David Hotel, killing 91 people, most of them civilians, in order to protest British rule of Palestine.

1948. Zionist militias kill over 100 civilians in the village of Deir Yassin, which is on the road to Jerusalem. The action helps clear the road for the military advance on Jerusalem and scares thousands of other Palestinians who flee their villag

The name Deir Yassin becomes a rallying cry for Palestinians for decades to come though no one is punished. An officer with responsibility for the massacre, Menachem Begin, became Israeli prime minister 29 years later.

1948. During the expulsion of Palestinians from the central Israeli city of Lydda, more than 100 men are rounded up and held in a mosque and later massacred (according to Reja-e Busailah’s new book and others). The episode terrifies thousands of other Palestinians who seek refuge in the West Bank.

1948. Hundreds of Palestinian civilians are killed by Israeli forces in Al Dawayima village, west of Hebron. Many are killed in barbarous manner; the crime is swept under the rug for decades.

1953. Israeli troops led by Ariel Sharon raid the village of Qibya in the Jordanian-occupied West Bank and kill 69 people, most of them women and children, in retaliation for a cross-border raid that killed three Israelis. (The massacre is memorialized in Nathan Englander’s latest novel as one that solidifies Sharon’s reputation as an officer who will exact swift and awful revenge on those who harm Jews, thereby assuring his rise.)

1956. Israeli forces gun down farmers in Kfar Qasim returning from the fields who are unaware that the village had been placed under a strict curfew by the Israeli government earlier that day. Forty-eight Palestinian citizens of Israel are killed, many women and children.

1956. Israeli forces kill 275 Palestinians in Gaza in the midst of the Suez Crisis. The massacre is documented by Joe Sacco in Footnotes in Gaza.

1967. Israeli forces are said to have killed scores of Egyptian army prisoners in the Sinai during the 1967 War. Some say 100s.

1970. Israel killed 46 Egyptian children and wounded 50 others during an air raid on a primary school in the village of Bahr el-Baqar, Egypt. Known as the Bahr el-Baqar Massacre, the assault completely destroyed the school and was part of the Priha (Blossoms) Operations during the War of Attrition.

1982. The Sabra and Shatilla massacres of Palestinians in Beirut refugee camps are carried out by Lebanese Phalangist militias. But the Israel Defense Forces had control of the area and Ariel Sharon allows the militias to go into the camps. Somewhere between several hundred and 3000 Palestinians are murdered. Sharon, who died in 2014, escaped punishment for war crimes; in fact, he became an Israeli prime minister.

1996. The first Qana massacre takes place when Israeli missiles strike a UN compound in southern Lebanon where many civilians have gathered seeking refuge during clashes between Israel and Hezbollah.

Over 100 civilians are killed. “Israel was universally condemned, and the United States intervened to extricate its ally from the quagmire,” Avi Shlaim writes in The Iron Wall.

2006. The second Qana massacre takes place during the Lebanon war when Israeli missiles strike a building in a village outside Qana, killing 36 civilians, including 16 children. The strike is initially defended as a response to the firing of Katyusha rockets at Israel from civilian areas.

2008-2009. During Cast Lead, the Israeli assault on Gaza following exchanges of rocket/missile attacks in months before, more than 1400 Palestinians are killed over 22 days, most of them civilians.

Many die as at Qana, when they flee their homes to UN compounds and schools, hoping to be safe. The massacre brings international condemnation, including by the Goldstone Report to the UN Human Rights Council alleging war crimes; but the United States does its utmost under President Obama to defend Israel from all charges, and no one is brought to the bar.

2012.  During eight days of “Pillar of Clouds,” Israel kills 160 Palestinians in Gaza, most of them civilians. The offensive boosts Netanyahu in the polls and seems timed to torpedo Palestine’s historic UN bid for statehood.

2014. Another Israeli onslaught on Gaza, this one lasting 51 days, kills upwards of 2200 Palestinians, most of them civilians. The massacre is famous for sniper killings of unarmed people and for the killings of entire families, 89 according to some authorities, typically wiped out in their homes by a missile strike. In one instance, 20 members of one family are killed. The international condemnation is again toothless.