Tony Greenstein | 04 February 2018 | Post Views:

Emily Thornberry should be supporting Israel’s Teenage Refuseniks not Labour’s Apologists for Israeli Apartheid

Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary and member of Labour Friends of Israel has called for all critics of Zionism and the Israeli settler state to be expelled from the Labour Party.  As the Morning Star observed recently, she is following a Blairite foreign policy.
Thornberry argues for support for a 2 state solution but one thing she isn’t is stupid.  A careerist, an Atlanticist, an astute right-winger yes, but stupid no.  She is well aware that the 2 state solution has long since died.  She only supports it because she knows that as long as this fiction survives, then the demand for equality of rights for Palestinians can be resisted.  The nonsense of 2 state is the only argument for maintaining Israel’s apartheid without calling it such.
What we should be doing is supporting those Israelis who are confronting Israel’s military establishment such as the soldiers group Breaking the Silence and those young Israelis who refuse to enlist in an army of occupation.

IDF swearing in ceremony at Western Wall, Jerusalem
‘Testimonies of former soldiers teach us that the reality of occupation
does not allow one to make a difference from within. The power to change
reality does not lay with the single soldier — but with the system as a whole.’

Solidarity protesters and family members protest for Israeli conscientious objector Tair Kaminer, Prison 400, central Israel, January 23, 2016. (Oren Ziv/
Sixty-three Israeli teenagers have published an open letter to Prime
Minister Netanyahu on Thursday, declaring their refusal to join the Israeli
army due to their opposition to the occupation.
 “The army carries out a
racist government policy that enforces one legal system for Israelis and
another for Palestinian in the same territory,”
they write. “Therefore, we have
decided not to take any part in the occupation and oppression of the
Palestinian people… for as long as people live under an occupation that denies
their human rights and national rights – we cannot have peace.”

The group calls itself the “2017 Seniors’ Letter,” continuing a long
tradition of similar letters sent by high school seniors announcing their
refusal to join the army, dating back to 1970 (the writer of this text was a
signatory of the 2001 letter). Members of the group have stated they are willing
to be imprisoned for their conscientious objection; one of them, Matan Helman,
is already serving a prison sentence. The teens have also stated they will
be traveling the country, speaking to others their age, challenging them
to rethink their positions on military service and inviting them to join the
The Israeli army does not recognize the right to conscientiously object
to the draft based on rejection of the occupation. It does, however, allow for
objection based solely on pacifism and the rejection of all forms of
violence. These young refusers, therefore, are likely to be denied exemptions,
and sent to repeated prison sentences of two to four weeks each, as has
been the case with other conscientious objectors in recent years.
IDF refuseniks protest in Haifa in 2014 rami shlosh
In their letter, the young refusers list the occupation, the siege on
Gaza, settlements, and violence toward Palestinians as the main reasons for the
decision. However, they also mention the ongoing effects of militarism on the
Israeli society, enshrining violent solutions instead of peace as a central
value, and the effect the occupation has on strengthening Israeli capitalism
and dependence on American military aid.
“Testimonies of former soldiers and heads of the security
establishment teach us that the reality of occupation does not allow one
to make a difference from within,”
they write. “The power to change reality
does not lay with the single soldier but with the system as a whole.
Similarly, the blame for this reality does not lie with the soldier, but with the
army and government. This is the system we wish to change.”

A group of 63 teens have publicly
declared they will refuse to be drafted into the Israel army, Yedioth Ahronoth
reported on Thursday morning.
We have decided not to take part
in the occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people,” t
hey wrote in a
letter sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot
and the defense and education ministers. “The ‘temporary’ situation has dragged
on for 50 years, and we will not go on lending a hand.”
The high-schoolers criticized the
government and the military in the letter. “The army is carrying out the
government’s racist policy, which violates basic human rights and executes one
law for Israelis and another law for Palestinians on the same territory,”
The students also protested
intentional institutional incitement against Palestinians on both sides of the
Green Line,”
referring to the 1949 armistice line separating Israel from the
West Bank, “and we here – draft-age boys and girls from different areas of the
country and from different socioeconomic backgrounds – refuse to believe the
system of incitement and to participate in the government’s arm of oppression
and occupation.”
The letter called on others to
reconsider being drafted, adding that intended to go around the country to
recruit for their initiative.
 “We refuse to be drafted and to serve in the
army out of an obligation to values of peace, justice and equality, with the
knowledge that there is another reality that we could create together,”
wrote. “We call on girls our age to ask themselves, will army service work
toward this reality?”
The signatories include Matan
Helman, 20, of Kibbutz Haogen, who is serving jail time because of his refusal
to be drafted into the army.
early December, the education ministry and the IDF announced that they were
working on a plan to increase the number of draftees enlisting for combat
service. Currently, enlistment rates are sinking and dropout rates stand at
over 7,000 male and female soldiers annually.

63 Israeli Teens Sign Open Letter To Netanyahu: We Refuse To Serve IDF

(JTA) — Some 63 Israeli high school students signed a public
letter declaring that they will refuse to be drafted into the Israel Defense
The letter, published on Thursday in the Hebrew-language daily
Yediot Acharonot, was addressed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense
Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and IDF Chief of
Staff Gadi Eizenkot.
“The army implements the policy of a racist government that violates
basic human rights, which applies one law to Israelis and another to the
Palestinians in the same area,”
the students, most in 12th grade, wrote.
Therefore we decided to not take part in the occupation and oppression of the
Palestinian people, which separates people into two hostile camps. Because as
long as people live under occupation that denies them human rights and national
rights we cannot achieve peace.”

The letter also said: “An entire nation is living under
institutionalized incitement directed against Palestinians on both sides of the
Green Line, and we are here – young men and women from different parts of the
country and different social backgrounds – refusing to believe the systematic
incitement or participate in the government’s oppressive and occupying arm.’

One of the signatories currently is serving in jail over his refusal to
be drafted, Haaretz reported.
Medical issues and religious objection are considered valid reason for
exemption from military service. Exemptions are not made for conscientious

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