The event was initiated by the Forum in Support of Conscientious Objectors, along with the youth organization of the Baqa Centers in Jaffa, Nazareth and Majd al-Krum. About a hundred people (youth from the centers, members of the Forum, relatives of the prisoners and their friends) first made kites, emblazoning messages of peace and solidarity, then flew them between the mountain and the prison. The demonstrators issued calls of encouragement, singing “The Kite (Tiara)”, a poem of Mahmoud Darwish, in Arabic and Hebrew. The refusers waved back from the courtyard.
Israel’s military prisons, at present, house eight conscientious objectors who oppose the Occupation. They are Noam Levi, Ran Teneh, Oren Yakobovich, Amit Bruck, Nir Evron, Yonatan Ben Artzi, Uri Yakobi, and Yoni Yehezkel. The last is a member of the Forum.
Nineteen, from Haifa, Yoni Yehezkel has been active in the Forum for the last six months. Determined to take no part in the Occupation, he is presently serving his second term, 28 days, for refusing the draft.
In a declaration on the eve of induction, Yoni Yehezkel wrote as follows:ï¿½
“I believe that war in general, and the present war between Israel and the Palestinians in particular, is a tool in the hands of the ruling powers. They use this tool to turn the oppressed against each other and divert their attention from those who are really keeping them down. As a socialist who seeks the abolition of class distinctions, I cannot participate in the oppression of the weak for the sake of the strong. I cannot take part in a struggle whose basic outcome is a larger gap between the classes and the creation of an inferior, weak, oppressed class on both of sides of the conflict.”The Forum in Support of CO’s unites dozens of refusers, members of the younger generation, who challenge the militaristic values that lie at the base of Israeli society. The courageous message implicit in their refusal does not get nearly the attention and appreciation it deserves. The Forum gives the refusers means of expression and an organizational framework that enable them to have influence.
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