Saturday, March 21, 2009

Soldier's Aunt Struggles, Shares Her Own Pilgrim's Tale

From the aunt of an IDF soldier, worries what the occupation is doing to him. She read an article in March 21 Haaretz and shares her concerns with the broader Jewish community, through Jewish Peace News.

Dear all...

My nephew, whom I greatly love, was conscripted not long ago into the IDF after a year of national service, and chose to join a combat unit. To my knowledge, I am the only one in the family who is unhappy about all of that (except the national service part, when he worked with disadvantaged urban youth).

However, this is not my child, but my sister's child. Since I am not the parent, what could I have said? How much could I have interfered?

I sent him an email when he was inducted, saying, basically: "Sometimes after people get in the army, they discover that it is not what they thought it would be and they are troubled when they learn how it really is. If this happens to you, there are resources -- people you can talk to, outside of the army"-- and I gave him some suggestions.... names of organizations he can contact. --Meantime he has finished basic training and is in an officer's course. I wonder what slogan will be on the T shirt someone in his unit will print to mark the end of the course (see below)?

Will I be sorry later that I did not dare to interfere more vocally? I think about what he will almost certainly be required to inflict on others, including noncombatants, including children, unless he opts out somewhere along the way, a choice requiring a very strong resistance to groupthink and to a lifetime of brainwashing, a choice grounded in a profound inner conviction that the IDF is wrong, wrongly deployed, an instrument of a criminal and oppressive national policy, massively transgressing the norms we are supposed to hold dear -- a conviction which I can't see how he can possibly have developed, all of a sudden. And, since we become what we do, I think also about what this behavior of his will be doing to him. When he comes home on leave, surely he will be treated like a good son, a good brother. No one will ask for details of what he has been doing since his last leave. How is he to know he is doing wrong if everyone around him acts like all is well? That vacuum, that silence, seems to me to be criminal. That silence makes the families of IDF occupation soldiers into accessories to the murder of noncombatants. Doesn't it?

Today, after reading Uri Blau's "No Virgins, No Terror Attacks" in Haaretz, I sent my nephew another email - pasted below. I try to be gentle with him because I keep reminding myself that this is not a volunteer army. My nephew was conscripted, and if all the brainwashing he has been subjected to, and his misplaced patriotism, made him a willing conscript into an army of occupation, still he was a conscript, nonetheless. That distinction, of course, will have no bearing on his culpability for any war crimes he may commit while in uniform.... Not even the Qassams fired from Gaza at civilian populations in Israel will have a bearing on his culpability for any war crimes he may commit while in uniform...

Dear G.,

I hope you are well and doing OK, hon...

When I saw this article (below), I immediately thought of you. You are the one I worry about these days, for a lot of reasons. What they talk about in this article is one of the reasons...
Try to take care of yourself somehow in the midst of all the insanity.

Read the Haaretz article online:
I rest my case.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Ir Amim Works for Equitable and Stabel Jerusalem

There are many Jewish organizations in Israel that are working to stop constuction of Israeli settlements on Arab lands. They do this because the settlements interfere with a future two-state solution and they fear that the settlements destabilize Israeli society. Ir
Amim ("city of nations") is one of these organizations. Their non-profit organization is "founded in order to actively engage in those issues impacting on Israeli-Palestinian relations in Jerusalem and on the political future of the city. Ir Amim seeks to render Jerusalem a more viable and equitable city, while generating and promoting a more politically sustainable future." They seek to maintain Jerusalem as a city of "two peoples and three religions."

Ir Amim is involved in:
  • Monitoring and exposing critical developments in Jerusalem, and informing / alerting target audiences in Israel and in the world.
  • Legal advocacy aimed at halting or mitigating unilateral actions that harm the fabric of life in Jerusalem, and create obstacles to reaching an agreed-upon future for the city and the region.
  • Policy advocacy with decision makers, both local and international.
  • Public outreach and media work aimed at raising awareness of developments in the city and understanding of their local and global significance. Activities include study tours of East Jerusalem, professional seminars and public events.
  • Strengthening, and working with, civil society organizations in East Jerusalem to advance a more equitable Jerusalem.

One more group working for peace and justice, walking with the Palestinians who have lived in East Jerusalem for many years, whose homes are threatened by the continuing construction of Israeli settlement in this Arab area. Read more about their work:

Their map showing Israeli settlement-building in the Old City of Jerusalem:

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Who Profits from the Israeli Occupation?

Jewish Peace News is a news clipping service that seeks to promote a just peace, Jews on their own pilgrimage of discovery of what it means to be Jewish in the context of the Middle East conflict:

Who Profits from the Israeli Occupation?
Announcing a new on-line database:

Now, more then ever, Israeli activists need a powerful global movement to help us build a just peace in Israel/ Palestine. Looking for effective tools for ending the occupation, we have launched a new website listing companies directly involved in the occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. The grassroots initiative, of the Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace, includes a database and an information center, and reflects an on-going two-year effort, rigorous research, documentation and site visits.

This unprecedented on-line resource already lists about 200 companies, and hundreds more will be added during 2009, offering an extensive and intricate mapping of the corporate aspects and interests in the continued occupation. The website offers a new useful categorization of all corporate interests in the occupation, and exposes specific examples of direct involvement of many international and Israeli companies for the first time. In tracing ownership links it shows in detail how some of Israel’s largest corporations are tied in with the occupation.

The database allows for advanced searches, such as: Which U.S. corporations support the West Bank military checkpoints? Which of the companies are listed in the London stock-exchange? What settlements’ production is formally registered inside Israel? Note, however, that the on-line data is always partial, always growing, and please send us any relevant information, further requests for information or suggestions.

As Israeli activists, we feel obligated to try and educate ourselves and others about the economic incentives and corporate involvement in the occupation, but this is not enough. You can support our efforts by continuing this investigation in your own country, by informing others of our website, or by sending us a much needed donation.
Jewish Peace News editors:
Joel Beinin
Racheli Gai
Rela Mazali
Sarah Anne Minkin
Judith Norman
Lincoln Shlensky
Rebecca Vilkomerson
Alistair Welchman
Jewish Peace News archive and blog: