Israeli army resisters to tour U.S. college campuses this fall
Will spark debate, controversy over role in Israel-Palestine conflict
CITIES NATIONWIDE -- Inspiring debate on college campuses nationwide on one of today's most controversial international topics, the Israel-Palestine conflict, two courageous young Israeli women who refused to serve in the Israeli army, breaking Israeli law, will share their stories this fall on campuses in major cities in "Why We Refuse: A National Tour of Israeli Young Women for Peace," from September 12 to October 10.
Maya Wind and Netta Mishly, both 19, are part of a group of Israeli high school seniors called the Shministim who have been imprisoned for their principled refusal to join the Israeli Army upon graduation -- mandatory for all Israeli high schoolers -- because of their opposition to Israel's policies toward Palestine and occupation of its territories. (For a more detailed explanation of the Shministim, visit here or watch here.)
"We believe it is important to spread information about the Israeli occupation and about and the movements that work against it," said Wind, who grew up attending religious Jewish schools, joined the Shministim in December 2008 and spent 40 days in prison before her release in March. " We feel it is important to inform the American people, specifically the Jewish community, as to their role in maintaining the occupation. We hope to empower people our age to take responsibility by taking a more active role in the resistance movements."
The tour, organized by the peace groups CODEPINK and Jewish Voice for Peace, will visit the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Tucson, Seattle, New York City, Boston, Providence, Connecticut, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. (please contact 415-994-1723 and visit www.whywerefuse.org for exact schedule).
About 100 Israeli youth, including Wind and Mishly, have signed the 2008 Shministim letter articulating their reasons for refusal including "Israeli 'defense' methods: checkpoints, 'targeted' killing, roads for Jews only, sieges and more, which serve the land seizing policy, annex more occupied territories into Israel and trample on Palestinian human rights...It is impossible to harm and imprison in the name of freedom, and thus it is impossible to be moral and serve the occupation.”
For more information, please contact Rae Abileah, CODEPINK grassroots coordinator, at 415-994-1723 or Sydney Levy, Jewish Voice for Peace chapters and campaigns director, at 510-465-1777, and visit the tour website, www.whywerefuse.org.
Maya Yechieli Wind, 19, grew up in Jerusalem during the second Intifada, where she was raised in a secular home but educated in religious schools. Her first experience with conflict resolution was at age fifteen in “Face to Face” – a dialogue group for Israeli and Palestinian youth. maya-yellow-500Later she became involved in various co-existence initiatives in the West Bank. She joined the Shministim in December 2008 and refused to serve in the Israeli army. She spent several weeks in detention and forty days in military prison and was exempted in March 2009. Today she works for Rabbis for Human Rights, and guides political tours in East Jerusalem and the West Bank for the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. She also co-leads the Jerusalem dialogue youth group of New Profile, the feminist movement for the demilitarization of Israel.
Netta Mishly was born and raised in Tel Aviv. At the age of fifteen, she started to take an active part in the demonstrations against the wall in the West Bank. The brutal violence she witnessed there radicalized her. At the age of sixteen, she was an organizer for an alternative education project that politically empowered youth and exposed them to radical ways of activism. It was in this project where the idea of the 2008 Shministim letter was born, with two other future members of the Shministim 2008, Sahar Vardi and Raz Bar David-Varon. netta-yellow-500 In 2009 she was sent to jail for 20 days after refusing to serve in the Israeli army. Since her release, she has been involved in immigrant and refugees struggles as well as anti-occupation actions.