The attempt to criminalize New Profile, a feminist organization trying
to "demilitarize" Israeli society, has been accelerated.
Read below why this is so and what you
can do about it.
By Rela Mazali and Ruth Hiller - two founding members of New Profile
abreast of developments on New Profile's website.
|Kids playing on a tank. Photo: "Towards Tomorrow" by A. Ettinger, editor: M. Milner
attempt to criminalize New Profile, begun in September 2008 with the Israeli Attorney General’s announcement of a criminal
investigation of the movement, has now been accelerated. On April 26th, a day before Israel’s Memorial Day, Israeli
police produced a hyperbolic piece of political theater. As if facing down a dangerous organized crime “family”,
they “raided” – to quote their press release – the homes of six activists in different parts of Israel,
who were summoned for interrogation. Exploiting the ritual emotions of a day of mourning for military dead, this police action
singled out and branded anti-militarist activists as non-members of the legitimate community, implying that they (we) are
New Profile issued a press release the same day and the US-based Jewish Voice for Peace followed up immediately with
an urgent appeal for action.
The activists detained have meanwhile been released on bail under restraining orders; their personal
computers currently remain impounded. As of this writing, police have summoned ten additional activists for interrogation.
the paragraphs below, we provide our analysis of the government’s campaign of suppression along with our request for
support. Your support and solidarity is deeply important to us.
Read more and act:
• Context for the targeting of New Profile
• What you can do
• Where to address your letters of protest
• Where to send “Letters to the
Editor”: Israeli Press Contacts
Context for the targeting of New Profile
The attempted criminalization
of New Profile amounts to no less than a state war on youth. Rising numbers of young Jewish Israelis (as well as members of
the Druze minority also subject to conscription) find themselves unable or unwilling to accept the over-used Israeli dictate:
“There’s no other choice”. Despite the ongoing draft, more than half of all eligible Israelis no longer
serve or complete their obligatory service in the military. Though Israeli law offers virtually no legal provision for Conscientious
Objection, young people have found their own way to vote with their feet.
Officials initiated the New Profile investigation
“because of growing concern at the defense establishment of a growing trend of draft evasion. In July 2007 Defense Minister
Ehud Barak and Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi declared publicly that they would fight the trend.” (Ha’aretz, 4/27/2009).
Clearly, it’s not New Profile that they’re worried about. New Profile is an easy, visible scapegoat through which
they hope to sow fear and intimidate future draft resisters, whom they stigmatize as “shirkers”. The state has
declared a war against the many thousands who openly resist or dodge the draft and refuse to place their bodies, their minds,
their morality at the disposal of vision-less politicians.
Israel’s war on its youth is being fought within a broader
context of spiraling repression of political dissent. Activists were detained by the hundreds for protesting Israel’s
attack against Gaza last January, most of them Palestinian citizens of Israel, some of whom still remain in detention. Non-violent
protesters against the land-gobbling dragon of Israel’s separation wall are regularly targeted by lethal fire. Weeks
ago Bassem Ibrahim Abu Rahma of Bil’in was killed by soldiers, becoming the 18th Palestinian killed while protesting
the separation barrier.
In most cases, the repressive measures applied to Jewish activists still bear no comparison, in
terms of arbitrariness and brutality, to the means employed against Palestinians. And yet, the political theater of repression
now being played out against New Profile is of great importance—
· First, because every act of repression is important and should be resisted.
· Second, because
when it is applied to a group of relatively privileged, middle class, largely middle aged, feminists – it tends to be
more visible to mainstream Israeli society, more easily exposing its fabric of lies and ludicrous, trumped-up charges, in
turn allowing decent but uninformed people a concrete grasp of the reality of repression.
· Third, because in the balance, yet again, lie the
future of freedom and rights for everyone in Israel/Palestine.
· Fourth, because what is at stake are the lives of Israeli youth against whom the
state is waging this war.
Many of you have readily recognized
the gravity of this turn of events and written us to express support and solidarity. You have also asked how to offer material
help. Networks of sustained, resilient and persistent support-and-protest are vital for resisting and reversing the destructive
anti-democracy now openly governing Israel/Palestine. We appreciate any small or large action you can take and truly need
you, now and over the months and years to come.
What you can do
1. Join the appeal of Jewish Voice for Peace (see also the statement and form
for sending letters of protest from War Resisters’ International).
2. Write a short letter
of protest to Israeli officials; see list of officials and their contact information below.
out to journalists from your community, provide them with material and suggest they interview New Profile activists in your
local or national media. To coordinate interviews, email us at email@example.com .
a parlor meeting or a community meeting to discuss, learn about and publicize the current escalation in Israel in the politicized
use of police and courts as a means of gagging dissent—most brutally among Palestinian citizens of Israel (for instance,
see here) and among Jewish peace activists;
5. Use technology to bring us to your meeting, via video
(on “Skype” for instance) or conference call; this is a very effective method for us to communicate with you and
your group directly.
6. Write a short letter of protest to Israeli media, in your own language
or in Hebrew if you’re able. See list of media contacts, below. Please send us copies of anything you write and any
answers you receive to this address.
7. Distribute our Press Release and the appeal from Jewish Voice for Peace among friends,
family, acquaintances, other activists, at work places, community centers, schools, colleges, activist groups and ask people
to disseminate them further.
8. Write an op-ed; contact us to help place it in an Israeli newspaper.
9. Compile in your language, print and distribute translations
or summaries of the New Profile press release and of the Jewish Voice for Peace appeal.
public actions in your community to protest the anti-democratic gagging of dissent, possibly at an official or semi-official
11. Identify and reach out to potentially sympathetic organizations and groups you know of, that
have yet to become involved in action on Israel/Palestine and invite them to join work on this issue;
appeals to your Foreign Minister and to other elected representatives demanding your government’s censure of Israel’s
anti-democratic gagging of dissent;
13. Write and publish an advertisement of protest in Israeli newspapers—either
as an umbrella of groups or as individuals (we will be glad to help with translation to Hebrew if necessary);
Help organize and fund a speaking tour for a New Profile activist, preferably along with a Palestinian activist, focusing
on the topic of Israel’s practices of gagging of dissent;
15. Add your own ideas and determined creativity
to this list and share them with us.
16. Make a contribution to New Profile.
Our deep and sincere thanks,
Rela Mazali & Ruth
New Profile Press Release
Jewish Voice for Peace Call to Action
To donate to New Profile
to address your letters of protest
Menachem Mazuz, Attorney General
Ministry of Justice, 29 Salah-a-Din St., POB 49029, Jerusalem,
Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister
Office, 3 Kaplan St. Hakirya, Jerusalem, Israel 91950
Yitzhak Aharonovitz, Minister of Public Security
Ministry of Public Security, P.O. Box
18182, Jerusalem, Israel 91181
Yaakov Neeman, Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice, 29 Salah-a-Din St., P.O. Box 49029,
Jerusalem, Israel 91490
Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen
Israeli Police, Jerusalem, Israel 91906
Ehud Barak, Minister of DefenseMinistry of Defense, Hakirya, Tel-Aviv, Israel 64743
For those who
live outside Israel, it would be very effective to send protests to your local Israeli embassy. You can find the address of
your local embassy on the web. In the U.S., here's the address.
Where to send “Letters to the Editor”:
Israeli Press Contacts
Please keep letters
under 600 words and try to follow up with emails and phone calls, urging the responsible editor to print your letter.
Send your English-language article or letter to the editor to:
International Herald Tribune’s Haaretz English daily
Ha’aretz (send letters to all of
these addresses): Letters@haaretz.co.il; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Jerusalem Post (English daily): firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Jerusalem Post in French
Jerusalem Report (English bi-weekly)
this time, Your Honor, my client wishes to enter a plea of ‘No contest,’ and throw himself on the mercy of the
press.” Tom Cheney cartoon, New Yorker, February 1997.