Israeli youngsters protest against war and pogroms

Friday May 20

Tair and AtalyaThis morning I received a newsletter from the Refuser Solidarity Network (refusers are young Israelis who refuse military service). Refuser Tair Kaminer writes as follows:

Hello, my name is Tair Kaminer. In 2016 I refused to join the Israeli Military and was subsequently imprisoned in Military Jail for over 150 days. Last Saturday I was unlawfully detained in Jerusalem with my friend Atalya Ben-Abba, also a refuser from 2017 who was jailed for 110 days, after police illegally disbanded the Anti-War demonstration we held in Jerusalem’s main square. 

Just a couple of minutes after we gathered a police officer approached us and claimed he had 'secret intelligence' that we would be attacked by Jewish nationalists. Even if this information was correct, it was the duty of the police to protect our freedom of speech and ensure that our demonstration went unharmed. Instead they forced us to disband immediately and arrested Atalya and me for allegedly not complying. After a night in police custody, we were released about seven the next morning and had to sign a bail bond preventing us from gathering in the square for thirty days.

The sole purpose of the restrictions placed on us is to silence us, but we refuse to be silenced. We are going to appeal the bail bond in court. As refusers we have already been imprisoned by Israel for fighting for peace, but in many ways we are not the main victims of this incident. The main victims are the millions of Palestinians who suffer from the bombing, siege, and occupation.

We gathered on Saturday on the streets of Jerusalem to show our opposition to the war and hostilities conducted by Israel, to call for an end to the siege on Gaza and the occupation of Palestine, and to show our solidarity with Palestinians who are being targeted and attacked by groups of right-wing extremists all over the country. In the past week, organized groups of settlers and right-wing extremists gathered in different Arab neighborhoods in cities in Israel to attack the locals, trying to incite a 'racial civil war.' In Sheikh Jarrah and East Jerusalem settlers with guns patrol the blocks, and in Bat-Yam, near Tel Aviv, an Arab passerby was lynched and beaten nearly to death by a Jewish mob, live on national television.  The Israeli authorities are unable or unwilling to put a stop to these attacks, and the government is trying to silence other nations and international organizations from commenting on them.

The surge of racist attacks amid the ongoing war in Gaza frightens us. While we were arrested for trying to express our desire for peace, those who seek to violently incite war still roam the streets freely. Almost no criminal charges were submitted against Jewish nationalists, and many, both Jews and Arabs, fear becoming the next targets of their attacks.

Note

The Refuser Solidarity Network has a US office at 244 Fifth Ave, Suite F39, New York, NY 10001. To make a donation go here.