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Israeli High School Refuseniks
| Military service in Israel is mandatory for male and female Jewish and
Druze citizens age-18 or older.
Arab citizens may volunteer. Some do. Others aren’t required to serve. Exceptions to mandated service are made for religious, physical or psychological reasons, not for gender, young women required to serve.
Breaking the Silence refuseniks served in the IDF, outspoken about its abuses, explaining they’re military veterans who’ve “taken it upon themselves to expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories,” the daily horrors Palestinians endure.
Over 1,000 IDF veterans are part of Breaking the Silence activism, spoking out about disturbing human rights abuses inflicted on Palestinians, most remaining anonymous for their safety.
Israeli children receive militarized education, starting in pre-school or kindergarten. Uniformed soldiers are present in classrooms, involved in school activities, manipulating young minds.
Field trips to military memorials on former battlegrounds are held for boys and girls in all age groups. Curricula and textbooks reflect militarism, from kindergarten through secondary schooling.
Children have mandatory preparation for the IDF programs, including training. Military “heroes” and conquests are glorified, Palestinians vilified.
Symbolic recruitment precedes conscription, consisting of indoctrinating youths to feel part of the military, mobilized for war, ready for combat, eager to participate.
An entire nation is mobilized for war. Brainwashing begin before children are old enough to understand how their minds are manipulated to hate Palestinians. They’re taught to revile them as enemies of the state.
They’re trained to become accustomed to militarism and belligerence as a natural state, a socializing force, military service as a right of passage, preparation for adulthood.
Courses taught combine civilian and military studies. Children become accustomed to seeing soldiers patrolling streets.
In a letter revealed publicly on Thursday, 63 Israeli high school seniors wrote Netanyahu, defense minister Lieberman, education minister Bennett, and IDf chief of staff Eisenkot - refusing conscription “take part in the occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people,” adding:
Conditions remained unchanged “for 50 years, and we will not go on lending a hand (in) a racist government policy that violates human rights.”
“The army is carrying out the government’s racist policy, which violates basic human rights and executes one law for Israelis and another law for Palestinians on the same territory.”
“(W)e here - draft-age boys and girls from different areas of the country and from different socioeconomic backgrounds - refuse to believe the system of incitement and to participate in the government’s arm of oppression and occupation.”
“We refuse to be drafted and to serve in the army out of an obligation to values of peace, justice and equality, with the knowledge that there is another reality that we could create together.”
“We call on (other youths) our age to ask themselves, will army service work toward this reality?”
Conscientious objection to military service is illegal in Israel. Refusniks risk imprisonment and harsh treatment.
One letter signatory spoke for others, saying “(w)e are not prepared to take up guns anymore.”
Together they urge other Israeli youths to refuse conscription until occupation ends.
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