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Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Israel’s Shining Stars of Conscience: Its Conscientious Objectors

Conscientious objectors Tamar Alon (left) and Tamar Ze'evi.  Rami Ben Ari
Once againamidst the terrible things that are happening in Israel today, the bigotry and the racism, the murderous indifference and the ethnic cleansing, I turn to what is a story of hope.  This is an article about 3 incredibly brave young Israeli women who have chosen repeated terms of imprisonment in military gaols rather than becoming complicit in Israel’s murderous occupation of the West Bank and the oppression of the Palestinians. This is a story that says that even in the midst of the darkest tunnel there is always a glimmer of hope and light.

Israel is a state where a cold-blooded murderer, Elor Azaria, who pumped bullets into the head of a Palestinian man who was lying unconscious on the ground became a national hero.  Israel is a state where a murderer like Azaria can have his face put on thousands of supermarket shopping bags.  But it can also produce teenagers like the women who are refusing to participate in the military repression of the Palestinians.
In Israel they put the face of a cold-blooded killer on supermarket bags
But let us be under no illusions.  It is only a minority, a tiny minority, of Israeli Jews who reject the Jewish supremacist values of Zionism and the Israeli state.  Just as in South Africa it was only a minority of Whites who rejected Apartheid.  As Martin Luther King wrote in Letter from an Alabama Gaol, the privileged never give up their privileges voluntarily.

However these are the Israelis we should offer our solidarity with.  They represent the best of Israeli society.  Those who, like the fake left Owen Jones, speak on the platform of the Israeli Labour Party’s British extension, the Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel, are joining hands with the putrid corpse of yesterday’s Labour Zionism. 

The first 30 years of the Zionist state were the years of Israeli Labour governments.  They were years that laid the basis for the rule of Begin, Shamir, Sharon and now Netanyahu.  It was Labour Zionism, not Likud that established the first settlements and which conquered the Occupied Territories.
Occupation objector, Tamar Alon, center, who has refused military conscription is flanked by Arab Aramin, left, and Yigal Elchanan, right, each of whom is the bereaved brother of a young girl, one Palestinian the other Israeli, killed during the continuing cycles of violence. For Tamar, the testimonies of both Arab and Yigal during the tenth Israeli-Palestinian memorial ceremony this past spring constituted “the defining moment in which I realized that I must refuse.” (Photo: Mesarvot)
The racist liars of Labour Zionism and the JLM who purport to support 2 states, are resolutely opposed to a refusal to serve in Israel’s army of occupation.  All Israel’s Zionist parties, including the leftist Meretz oppose refusing to serve in the Zionist army.  The reason is quite simple – they support the Occupation and the accompanying reign of terror.  They are the hypocritical Zionists who want to be nationalists in Israel and pretend to be oppositions abroad.  Only the anti-Zionist left and the Arab-Jewish Joint List support the refusal of Israeli Jews to serve in the army.

The Israeli Labour Party, of which the JLM and LFI are the representatives in Britain has always been viciously hostile to the idea of refusing to serve in the army because for them the army is the object of veneration.  As Joan Ryan MP demonstrated in the Al Jazeera programme ‘The Lobby’ when questioned about 2 states, this is a mere phrase masking their support for the Occupation.  When subject to what she thought about the settlements, Ryan blustered and retreated into clichés about support for 2 states.  Because if you support the Occupation you cannot support a Palestinian state.
That is why the support that the JLM has received from Owen Jones, Rhea Wolfson and Jon Lansman is sick example of the chauvinism that lies at the heart of British labourism.  There is nothing remotely socialist or left-wing about Labour Zionism.  Labour Zionism was always based on hostility to class struggle and class unity.  It operated under the slogan ‘From Class to Nation’ –the Labour Zionists replaced the class struggle with the national struggle – against the Arabs.  They campaigned on the slogan ‘Jewish Labour’ i.e. a Boycott of Arab Labour not a unified working class.  A Jewish state meant an alliance between the Jewish working class and the Jewish capitalists at the expense of the Arabs.

Tony Greenstein

Three young women prefer to be behind bars than be part of an occupation that embitters Palestinian lives

Odeh Bisharat Feb 06, 2017

On Monday we’ll see if the army extends the detention of conscientious objectors Tamar Ze’evi and Tamar Alon, who have spent 74 days in a military prison. Another conscientious objector, Atalia Ben Abba, will be joining them at the hearing for the first time.

It’s important to note that these three young women weren’t among those who threw bleach and stones at policemen in Amona. It’s just that they have a conscience, and the hell with where it leads. These are girls who prefer to be behind bars than be part of an occupation that embitters Palestinian lives. The price they’re paying is a denial of their freedom.

I’ve been trying to figure out the nature of conscience, that wondrous creature that’s subject to repression in many places but still springs up again in all its power and glory. According to Wikipedia, conscience is “an aptitude, faculty, intuition or judgment that assists in distinguishing right from wrong.”

I’ve never seen an independent conscience wandering the streets. Nor do I know in which part of the body the conscience resides – the head, the heart, or maybe the big toe. But every time the conscience rises up – whether through conduct or by taking a stand, I tremble with pride and my eyes tear up at the realization that I’m part of the human race and I can quickly forget Benjamin Netanyahu, Bashar Assad and Donald Trump.

Don’t get me wrong; everyone has a conscience and a matching personal morality. Thus the conscience of Zionist Union’s Tzipi Livni leads her to criticize the “regularization bill” aimed at legalizing illegal settlements. The truth is, I was a bit worried about her when I heard this but quickly calmed down when I realized she’s fine.
Conscientious objectors Tamar Alon (left) and Tamar Ze'evi.  Rami Ben Ari
It turns out she’s against the bill because “if we make a fuss over every mobile home, we’ll be overreaching and end up with nothing. The regularization bill does us more damage than Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem or any other organization. Passage of the bill will get Israeli soldiers taken to The Hague,” she said, referring to the International Criminal Court.

We must therefore clarify that Livni’s morals have no connection to morality, and if they met true morality, they might be called traitorous. Livni’s morality is mortgaged to the land lust that prevails here; grab as much Arab land as you can. If the legalization lets you grab more, fine. If it doesn’t embarrass Israel in front of the world, great. And if no Israeli soldiers are at risk of prosecution in The Hague, even better.

Livni’s morality is immoral. It’s like a mother telling her son, “Don’t hit too many children because your hand will hurt.”

And here we have conscientious objector Tamar Alon, whom I view as my daughter, saying clearly, “I’m not willing to accept the claim that oppressing another people, denying basic human rights, racism and hate are essential to Israel’s existence.” She refuses to serve in the occupation army not because of what the world will say, not because she fears the ICC in The Hague, but because the occupation is immoral.

But the system doesn’t embrace her and take pride in her comments, which testify to her morality. It puts her in jail for weeks. Maybe her conscience will be repaired there.

Meanwhile, 245 students at Tel Aviv’s Ironi Alef High School have signed a petition expressing their support for her. Big Brother, please note.

It’s not easy for parents when their daughters pay a heavy price for adhering to their consciences. But their stance paves a different trail for two peoples yearning for a life of peace and tranquility. The Iraqi poet Muzaffar al-Nawab wrote, “I know you cry alone, but you’ve added another lamp to the path.”

Your daughters are like shining stars in our long night.


Conscientious objectors Tamar Alon and Tamar Ze’evi say they won’t ‘contribute to Palestinians’ oppression’

Two Israeli women were arrested on Wednesday after they refused to enlist in the Israeli military, citing objections to the IDF’s activities in the West Bank.

Conscientious objectors Tamar Alon, 18, and Tamar Ze’evi, 19, who were both slated to join the IDF, arrived Wednesday afternoon at the recruitment office in Tel Hashomer. There, after declaring their refusal to serve, the two were arrested and imprisoned for two days by army authorities. Israel does not recognize political or conscientious objection as grounds to receive exemption from the mandatory draft.

 Alon and Ze’evi refused conscription due to their “unwillingness to contribute to the oppression of the Palestinian People,” according to a statement by Mesarvot — Political Refusal Network, an organization that is aiding the two objectors.

Tamar Alon is a second-generation conscientious objector. Her father Chen Alon famously refused to serve as a reserve officer during the Second Intifada and then founded “Combatants for Peace,” a bi-national peace movement that connects Israeli and Palestinian activists.

It was through that organization that Alon met Palestinians and was exposed to the “harsh realities of their lives from a young age,” she said.

“I believe that the ways of war, violence and oppression will not allow us to maintain a democratic state and be a ‘free people in our land,” she said, referring to a line in Hatikva, Israel’s national anthem. “I refuse to enlist out of concern and love for my society and out of a desire to encourage public discourse on the character and future of our society.”

Ze’evi echoed Alon’s sentiments, insisting that she was refusing to serve due to her love for the land and its people.

“We will only get out of this cycle of fear and violence when we open our hearts and minds, look at what is happening around us, and allow ourselves to feel the pain suffered by the people who live in this land,” said Ze’evi. “Once we all understand and accept this reality, I want to believe empathy, tolerance and compromise will be our only choice.”

Alon and Ze’evi have received a new enlistment date next week, and are expected to refuse and be tried again. This cycle could ultimately lead to their protracted incarceration in military prison.
Earlier this year, conscientious objector Tair Kaminer spent 166 days in prison before she was eventually released.

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