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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

Keep abreast of developments on New Profile's website.
Kids playing on a tank. Photo: "Towards Tomorrow" by A. Ettinger, editor: M. Milner
Dear friends, 

The 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 fair game.

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.

In 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
                  Key links
                  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.

3.  Reach 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 .

4.  Organize 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.

10.  Organize public actions in your community to protest the anti-democratic gagging of dissent, possibly at an official or semi-official Israeli site;

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;

12.  Organize 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);

14.  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 Hiller,
New Profile

Key links

New Profile Press Release

Jewish Voice for Peace Call to Action

To donate to New Profile

Where to address your letters of protest

Menachem Mazuz, Attorney General
Ministry of Justice, 29 Salah-a-Din St., POB 49029, Jerusalem, Israel 91490

Fax: +972-2-646-7001

Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister
Prime Minister’s Office, 3 Kaplan St. Hakirya, Jerusalem, Israel 91950
Tel: +972-3-610-9898

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
Inspector General
National Headquarters, Israeli Police, Jerusalem, Israel 91906

Ehud Barak, Minister of Defense

Ministry of Defense, Hakirya, Tel-Aviv, Israel 64743
Tel.: +972-3-697-5540 or +972-3-697-5423
Fax: +972-3-697-6711

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):;;;;;;

Jerusalem Post (English daily):;;;

Jerusalem Post in French 

Jerusalem Report (English bi-weekly)

Hebrew only:
     Yediot Ahronot  

“At 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.