Israel’s War on Dissent
by Rela Mazali
5 May 09 | ei
About six months after Israel’s attorney general publicly announced an effort to criminalize dissent, state authorities have upped the ante in their “war” — as the Israeli daily Haaretz called it last September — against Israel’s youth; against the broad, grassroots movement slandered by officials as “draft shirkers.”
On 26 April, 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 detained for interrogation. Exploiting the ritual emotions of a day of mourning for military dead, the police action singled out and branded anti-militarist activists as non-members of the legitimate community, implying that they (we) are fair game.
As of this writing, police have summoned 10 additional activists for interrogation. The activists targeted are members of New Profile, a feminist movement working for over a decade to reverse the militarization of state and society in Israel, of which I have been a member since its inception. Our founding event, in October 1998, confronted us with the existence of an unorganized social movement borne then, as it is still, by young people in Israel. Recognizing the central importance of this nascent movement, New Profile upholds their right to open discourse on the crucial issues they face. We provide them with full and accurate information about their prospects — information with which the authorities are not forthcoming, to put it mildly. This effort is only one of many ways in which New Profile works to change the militarized thinking holding us, all the residents of Israel/Palestine, hostage to the prioritization of military force that has characterized all of Israel’s governments to date. While they may enrage some, our activities are totally legal. >>>