On 28 December 2014, over fifty Israeli and Palestinian alumni or teachers of the Israel Arts and Science Academy in Jerusalem, issued a letter calling high school students in Israel to refuse serving in the Israeli army and enabling its occupation of Palestine.
The students, teachers and alumni who signed the letter called for an actual refusal and did not choose the safe route by engaging in a mere condemnation of Israeli policies, therefore placing themselves at risk of prosecution by Israeli courts for breaking the law. For example, in April 2009, the Israeli police arrested seven people who were running the anti-draft websites of New Profile and Target 21, and were accused of “incitement for draft evasion”. The signers stated that “We, Israel Arts and Science Academy alumni, former staff members, Palestinians and Jews, from different ages and diverse world-views, approach you, alumni and future alumni – dare to refuse.”
The signers explain that “refusing to serve in the Israeli military is not an easy choice, but a moral stance against a collective mood manifested in racism and violence on every street these days. It is a choice to withstand the pressure coming from one’s home, friends, professional environment and the media, and to not take part in the crimes done in our name.”
This was also the first letter signed by both Israelis and Palestinians who are associated with the academy.
The signers of the letter seek not only to refuse to take part in a military occupation but also oppose the militarization of Israeli society. They wrote that ““the refusal to serve means also resisting the militaristic indoctrination process we all went through since our childhood in schools, youth movements, national ceremonies, in high school – and which continues in our adult lives.” Indeed, teachers in Israeli high schools who encourage their students to serve in the Israeli army are supposed to be given financial rewards by the Ministry of Education.
In light of the high of Israeli society, it is remarkable that the letter was signed by a relatively large number of people in a society where serving in the Israeli army is deemed a moral duty and a civil obligation and virtue.
The signers of the letter can be contacted here: firstname.lastname@example.org