Soldier of Peace

Rating: NNNNNi knew that i could not serve in the Territories. That was a very basic gut feeling. The occupation.

Rating: NNNNN

i knew that i could not serve in the Territories. That was a very basic gut feeling. The occupation is wrong. The Israeli army, whether it’s in the Territories or not, is almost always engaged in lengthening the occupation or glorifying it or contributing to militarism in Israeli society. And I really had no desire to be part of that. The refusist movement started in the Lebanon war. Mostly, reservist soldiers refused to go into Lebanon. My father was one of those.

The refusal movement strikes at the heart of the militarism of Israeli society. And that shakes the system to its very foundations. But refusal is only part of the struggle.

The peace movement has a lot of different sections. Some people are Zionists, some are not Zionists.

The possibilities are endless. I think what we can all unite around is the demand for the immediate withdrawal of the Israeli military from all Occupied Territories.

That is the very basic humanitarian need here. Blood is being shed every day, by both sides.

After an eventual withdrawal, there isn’t going to be a utopia. Israel will still be a wealthy, First World nation while Palestine remains a very poor Third World country. That will mean economic exploitation that will keep going on after we make peace.

People on both sides desperately need some breathing room, some respite from this constant fear for their lives, so that they can understand that they’re not each other’s real enemies.

Many Israelis have been conditioned, have been brainwashed, to think Arabs are their enemies, that they want to throw us all into the sea and we have to get them before they get us.

We have to understand that they are also operating under very difficult circumstances. They’re suffering and dying as well. And finally, we need to build solidarity with the refuseniks.

Postcards of support to those in jails help a lot. Also, letters to the army authorities and to the prime minister and the minister of defence can help.

That’s the note I want to end on: unity. We don’t have to agree on everything. We don’t even have to agree on what the solution to the whole Palestinian-Israeli conflict is.

But we can have a minimum program and start opening a window for peace.

Matan Kaminer, an Israeli high school student and peace activist, spoke to a meeting of 400 at Northrop Frye Hall, Victoria College, Tuesday night (March 12). Kaminer is an organizer of the Seniors’ Letter, a statement signed by high school students who refuse to serve in the Occupied Territories with the Israeli Defence Force.

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