Forwarded from Gush Shalom

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Tue Feb 19 17:57:35 MST 2002

GUSH SHALOM - pob 3322, Tel-Aviv 61033 -

[X] Introduction
[1] Something is Moving, Uri Avnery - Ma'ariv Feb. 17
[2] Update on support for refusal, Dorothy Naor - New Profile.
[3] Briefing on the rally sent by Peace Now
[4] Old-New Israeli Voice of Conscience, Lev Grinberg - Ma'ariv Feb

[X] Introduction

Ongoing escalation, and wartime-style media reports are losing their
laming grip on the Israeli public. One and half year after the start
of the latest Palestinian uprising a growing number of Israelis start
expressing their anger and disgust at of the way of the Sharon
government - the way of brute force. And the number is growing, the
more that this way is seen to be unworkable. That's why thousands of
people spent two consecutive Saturday nights to demonstrating in
Tel-Aviv against continuing occupation and for withdrawal to the '67
borders. Many of the 10,000 who came to the earlier, Jewish-Arab
rally, attended also the one held a week later at the inititaive of
Peace Now - in the same square, but more densily-packed (there were
some 15,000 - i.e. probably half of them people who had not joined
the week before).

Peace Now's idea was to bring in the more moderate people, those who
(so they argued) don't identify with the refusers and are not willing
to hear about Israeli war crimes. The surprise of the Peace Now rally
(probably for the organizers as well) was that one of their scheduled
speakers - KM Roman Bronfman of the dovish Russian immigrant party
"Democratic Choice", which is Peace Now's partner in the "Peace
Coalition" - did appeal to the public to support the refusers whom he
called "the moving force of the growing anti-occupation movement".
The overwhelming ovation which he got for it showed that also many of
the "more moderate tribe" are impressed and moved by the wave of - as
of now - 255 first time refusers of military occupation duty.

[The number is constantly updated on the site and
the link with the number appears also on the Gush Shalom site.]

For more details and background, we advice reading the following:

[1] Something is Moving, by Uri Avnery
[Written16.2.02, published in Ma'ariv (Hebrew version) 17.2.02]

Something is Moving

I once saw in a Western a Red Indian (or should I say a Native
American?) putting his ear to the ground and hearing a train tens of
miles away. In the course of the years I have tried to imitate that
Indian. I try to hear changes in the public mood long before they
appear on the surface. Not to prophesy, not to guess, just to hear.

Now I perceive the approach of a great wave of opposition to the
bloody war against the Palestinians (nicknamed "Peace of the
Settlements, following the name given to the 1982 invasion of
Lebanon, "Peace of Galilee"). The revolt of the soldiers who refuse
to serve in the occupied Palestinian territories is an important
symptom, one of many.

We have seen in the past several such public upheavals, that start
with opaque noises and grow quickly into a public uproar. Such a wave
rose during the Lavon affair in the fifties and led to the dismissal
of Ben-Gurion. Such a wave carried Moshe Dayan into the Defense
Ministry on the eve of the 1967 Six-Day War (led by the women
nicknamed "the Merry Women of Windsor"), and the next one, which
swept him and Golda Meir away after the Yom Kippur war. Such a wave
got the IDF out of Beirut, and later out of South Lebanon (led by the
"Four Mothers" movement.)

The mechanism can be compared to a transmission of spiked wheels. A
small wheel with a strong, independent drive turns a bigger wheel,
which in turn moves an even bigger wheel, and so on, until all the
establishment changes course. This is how it happens in Israel, this
is how it happens in all democracies (see: Vietnam).

It always starts with a small group of committed people. They raise
their feeble voice. The media ignore them, the politicians laugh at
them ("a tiny, marginal and vociferous group"), the respectable
parties and the established old organizations crinkle their noses and
distance themselves from their "radical slogans".

But slowly they start to have an impact. People leave the respectable
(meaning linked to the establishment) organizations and join the
militant groups. This compels the leaders of the mainstream
organizations to radicalize their slogans and to join the wave. The
message spreads throughout the parties. Politicians who want to be
reelected adopt the new slogans. "Important" journalists, serving as
weathercocks, smell the change and adapt themselves in time to the
new winds.

The famous anthropologist Margaret Mead said about this: "Never doubt
that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the
world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." And the German
philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer, said: "All truth passes through
three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently
opposed. Third, it is accepted as self-evident." Now it happens
again. It is difficult to fix the exact moment when it started.
Perhaps after the demolition of some 50 homes in the Rafah refugee
camp. Or at the mass-meeting called by Gush Shalom in Tel-Aviv, when
Colonel Yig'al Shochat, who had lost a leg in the Yom Kippur war,
called upon his comrades, the airforce pilots, to refuse to carry out
orders that are manifestly illegal, such as bombing Palestinian
towns, and when the philosopher Adi Ophir proposed to open files on
IDF officers who commit war crimes. Suddenly the public woke up to
the possibility that war crimes are being committed in its name. The
mental block was broken, a public debate about war crimes, and
consequently about the occupation itself, began.

The announcement by 50 reserve officers and soldiers that they refuse
to serve in the occupied territories broke a dam. The number of
refuseniks grew quickly, the phenomenon shook the military-political
establishment. For the first time, the leaders of the establishment
saw in their nightmares the possibility of a big uprising of soldiers
who say: This is where we get off, we will not go on. When public
opinion polls showed that nearly a third of the Israeli Jewish public
supports the refuseniks, the panic grew. At the same time, hundreds
of Israelis visited the besieged Yasser Arafat in Ramallah.

Then came the big, joint demonstration of the militant peace
movements ("The Occupation Kills All Of Us!") in Tel-Aviv's Museum
Square. Organizations that had got used during the last 16 months to
demonstrations of a hundred, two hundred people saw before them ten
thousand enthusiastic demonstrators, who have left despair behind
them and were demanding action. This demonstration had, of course, an
impact on the "established left", which is now compelled to confront
the new mood of their own public. This is the beginning of a process.
Nobody can know yet how powerful it will become and how far it will
go. But one thing is certain: something is happening.

[2] Update on support for refusal, Dorothy Naor - New Profile.

----------forwarded message follows-----------
From: Dorothy Naor <dor_naor at>

Update on Support for Refusing

The past several days have seen influential sources expressing
support for the refusal to serve in the territories. On Saturday
evening, February 16, at the demonstration organized by the Coalition
for Peace, Knesseth member Roman Bronfman spoke before the crowd of
about 15,000 in the Tel Aviv Museum Square.

He declared his unmitigated support for the reservists' letter
stating their refusal to serve in the territories.

On Sunday, February 17 support came from two additional influential

Gideon Levy in Ha'aretz castigated those who acknowledge "that Israel
is doing terrible things but fiercely oppose the refusal to serve in
the territories for various reasons and call on soldiers not to carry
out illegal orders," referring to "Members of the moderate Zionist
left, from Ami Ayalon to MK Ran Cohen (Meretz), from the left of the
Labor Party to Meretz." These, Levy says, belong neither to the
Israeli majority who reject non-compliance with the draft, nor to the
minority who support it. Rather, they belong to a third group, one
that is "attempting to have its cake and eat it too."

"Those who support the third position have taken the easy way out -
they tell the soldiers don't kill small children, don't prevent women
in labor from going through checkpoints, don't beat up civilians for
no reason, don't torment the innocent. But at the same time, don't
refuse to serve in the territories, God forbid. Stand at the
checkpoints and smile at the inhabitants whose lives you are
embittering. That way, you will be both obedient and moral soldiers.
Hand out candies to children after an operation, as battalion
commander Lieutenant Colonel Tal Hermoni told his soldiers after they
arrested, killed, destroyed and wreaked terror on Beit Hanun.
Inadvertently, the battalion commander fully actualized this position
of the left: Shoot and sweeten."

Also on the 17th, Michael Ben Yair, legal advisor to Prime Ministers
Rabin and Peres, signed a petition supporting the Letter of the
Reservists declaring their refusal to serve in the territories. With
him, seven additional faculty members of the law school at Tel Aviv
University likewise signed. Ben Yair justified his stand yesterday
(Feb. 17) on the radio and in the Ma'ariv newspaper.

Today's Ma'ariv interviews him at greater length. He stresses the
legitimacy of conscientious objection in democratic societies, noting
that today's refusees might be tomorrow's majority, and reminding
readers that Bill Clinton had refused to participate in the Vietnam
war. "Our refusees," he states, "are restoring the moral back bone to
the State of Israel."

One additional encouraging sign is the popularity of our New Profile
booth at Saturday's demonstration. Most people that we spoke to
either at the booth or when wandering among the crowd distributing
our fliers responded very favorably to our announcement that we
support those who refuse to serve in the military.

The position we back has not yet gained major proportions, but is
apparently gaining in popularity.

At this writing, an additional 200 reservists have added their names
to the original letter, bringing the number to 253. May their numbers
continue to grow, and thus help hasten the end of the occupation.

All the best, Dorothy

PS [by Gush Shalom]: This evening, more than three hundred allend a
solidarity with the conscientious refusers taking place at Beit Ha'am
Gallery in south Tel- Aviv, with speakers, artistic performances and
and an exhibition of specially- donated paintings and sculptures by
52 artists. The Refusers' Solidarity Forum which organized this event
also printed a solidarity poster which is a work of art in itself.
For further info <matzpoon at> - or call Nir Nader 050-

[3] Briefing on the rally sent by Peace Now

------- Forwarded message follows -------
From: "Peace Now" <peacenow at>

February 16, 2002

Over 15,000 activists participated in the march and rally organized
by Peace Now and the Peace Coalition in Tel-Aviv this evening, under
the slogan "Get Out of the Territories - Get Back to Ourselves." (see
Reuters photo:

One of the highlights of the rally was the speech, in Hebrew, given
by Dr. Sari Nusseibeh. "The path to peace is through the return of
the refugees to the State of Palestine and the return of the settlers
to the State of Israel," Nusseibeh said.

As the march commenced, news arrived of the atrocious suicide bombing
in the West Bank. The aim of our protest movement is to struggle for
a political solution that will break this terrible cycle of
violence.While this weekend's violent events will undoubtedly push
the rally into the margins of the media agenda, it is only the first
in a long series of major street activities. Judging by the energy
and atmosphere we felt on streets of Tel-Aviv this evening, it is
just a matter of time before hundreds of thousands fill Rabin square

Peace Now and the Peace Coalition would like to thank the Coalition
of Women for Just Peace, Taayush and Gush Shalom for their
outstanding support and cooperation.

Further information:

Press: Didi Remez will be out of the country over the next few days,
please contact Moria Shlomot at 972-54-322834. Activists: There is a
lot of work that needs to be done (office, weekend intersections,
weeknight sign hanging, permanent vigils and organizing the next
rally), get involved by contacting Ori Ginat, 054-405157 or
ori at

[4] Old-New Israeli Voice of Conscience, Lev Grinberg Ma'ariv Feb 18

An Old-New Israeli Voice: The Voice of Conscience
By Lev Grinberg - Jerusalem*

In recent weeks a new voice is rising, loud and clear. A voice
previously marginal and repressed, a voice that now threatens to
inundate the entire country with the hope of breaking out of the
crisis. It is the voice of conscience, which sees all human beings as
equal, having the right to shelter, health, freedom and dignity, and
above all, the right to life. The most salient expression of the new
voice are the soldiers that declared their objection to serve the
occupation, and the intensity of the reactions, be they negative or
positive, that they provoked. But this is only one expression of the
new voice's power. The new voice permeates reports from the Occupied
Territories, and it has begun to mobilize masses for action, in
previously inconceivable scales, such as the last two Saturdays'

The voice of conscience is both personal and collective, hence its
strength. It is personal because each individual must be accountable
for his actions. It is collective because it manifests social
responsibility and creates a common language through which we are
able to communicate, talk about the reality and connect with each

The voice's intensity and growth potential stem from its clarity and
unambiguousness. You cannot tell the voice of conscience that "we"
want peace but "they" don't, because the daily abuse of the
Palestinians and the provocative exterminations are clear for all to
see. You cannot distract the voice of conscience by claiming that
"Barak offered everything", because in terms of conscience, this does
not justify the war crimes committed by the Israeli occupation
forces. And of course you cannot recruit soldiers with the
militaristic argument that "we must win this war", because the
occupation is not a war forced upon us, and woe to us if we ever do
win, and thus succeed to maintain the occupation.

The new voice's greatest power is its ancientness. There is no need
to invent it; it already exists in the individual consciousness, in
the Jewish and humanistic tradition. This is the voice of "Thou shall
love thy neighbor as thyself" and "What is hateful to you do not do
unto your fellow man". These are the values on which most Israelis
were brought up, and this is the dormant voice now awakening. It is
inside us, only until now it has been silenced by other voices, which
mobilize a nation to war and raise primal fears that mute the voice
of conscience. This old-new voice is powerful enough to tear down the
protective wall of blind militarism, of racism - that make
distinctions between types of blood according to their origin, and of
fascism - that demands national unity. The voice of conscience and
the Jewish moral code are capable of establishing in Israel a
different culture, a culture of tolerance and coexistence. The voice
of conscience can link Jews, Christians and Muslims brought up on the
sacred principle that all human beings are created in God's image.
The voice of conscience can provide an agreed-upon moral basis
between Jews and Arabs according to the biblical, pre-democratic rule
that "One law shall be for you, and for the stranger that sojourns
among you". If this voice grows stronger, it can also provide the
ethical basis required for rapprochement and resolution of the
conflict with the Palestinians, which is now conceived as
intractable, breeding a sense of despair and thoughts about leaving.
The ancient Jewish voice of conscience is the voice of the new hope.

Lev Grinberg is a peace activist and political sociologist, Director
of the Humphrey Institute for Social Research

Louis Proyect, lnp3 at on 02/19/2002

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