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Occupation magazine - Activism

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Logic of our time, Peace Tabernacle, The Locked Sea and After eight months
By Adam Keller
Crazy Country
27 Sept 2010

Logic of our time

- This Bibi is not to be trifled with! Look how he confronted the whole world and won. Obama demanded that he go on freezing the settlement construction. And he did not.

- Who is this Obama, anyway? Who cares a fig about him? He talks and talks, we build on the ground.

- By the way, did you hear about the report of UN commission of inquiry about our operation to stop the Gaza Flotilla? Very annoying, we knew it, a very one-sided report. It`s anti-Semitism, pure and simple.

- Yes, it`s really annoying. But we`ll manage. We just have to talk to the Americans and ask for their help. They`ll see to it that this report is not approved.

Peace Tabernacle

Thousands, tens of thousands of tabernacles (Sukkot) are erected this week, to mark an ancient holiday.

The Religious Culture Department at the Ministry of Education of the State of Israel made sure to post this week quotes from different Jewish thinkers about the meaning and significance of this holiday. Among others were published the words of Hermann Cohen, a Jewish philosopher of the 19th century:

`There can be no hatred where peace has spread its tabernacle in a person`s heart. That is why the prayer for this holiday uses the term `A Peace tabernacle`. Sukkot is the holiday of peace, the holiday when we erect a tabernacle to mark our wanderings in the desert of mundane life. Peace makes life into a holiday.`

The Ministry which published these words is not far from Sheikh Jarrah. This is where Israeli peace activists set up a Sukka, jointly with the Palestinians who have been expelled from their homes. But the municipal building inspectors did not read the words of the philosopher and came to destroy it, three times they destroyed it so that the message would be loud and clear: `Enough with this Peace Tabernacle - enough with peace, enough!`

The events around the Sheikh Jarah tabernacle can be seen at:

The Locked Sea

Gaza is closed and locked. By land, and by sea, and by air. Gaza residents may not go out, and those who live elsewhere may not enter.

Those who attempt to defy the ban may come to a bad end. A few months ago, nine Turks returned home in coffins. The reasons why and how it happened this way are now investigated by no less than four commissions of inquiry in different locations around the world. Three days ago the 20 year old Gazan fisherman Mohammed Baker tried to sail into the Mediterranean, away from the shores of Gaza, and got slightly beyond the limits set for him and his fellows by the Navy of the enlightened State of Israel. The gun boats opened fire, and Baker will never again sail anywhere.

Nevertheless, this night a small boat is sailing on the Mediterranean waves, en route to Gaza. A Jewish Peace Boat. Its passengers and crew are all Jews who don�t endorse the policies of a state which insists upon being recognized as a Jewish state, the Jewish State. Jews from Britain and Germany and the United States, as well as Jewish citizens of Israel.

Yonatan Shapira, a former helicopter pilot in the Israel Defense Forces � and whose former colleagues had carried the naval commandos who raided the previous Gaza Flotilla - called from the boat on them to refuse this time.

What will happen when the boat gets near the coast of Gaza? In a few hours we will probably know.

After eight months

Omer Shoshan will not be reading this blog, at least not in the coming weeks. He is held in a military detention center in Jerusalem, where there are no computers.

Omer Shoshan, a young Israeli resident of Yahud, east of Tel Aviv, was not sure he wanted to refuse service. He joined the army in the hope that in its ranks he may get a chance to do something positive - but for eight months he tried and failed. The letter which he thereupon sent to the military authorities is worth reading:

`I refuse to be part of the Israel Defence Forces, an army that occupies and oppresses a Palestinian population on a daily basis, which undermines the chances to achieve peace, and thus also Israel�s security, and which corrupts the moral and democratic character of the state.

For more than 40 years the IDF has been daily oppressing the Palestinians in the occupied territories and denying them their most basic rights to live normally. This includes hampering their freedom of movement, undermining their economy, hurting their bodies, illegally arresting them and committing many other severe crimes that usually fail to make it to the mainstream media. The very fact that any simple soldier serving beyond the Green Line has power over the lives of local residents and can force them to do as he pleases is illegal and undemocratic, and obtains the exact opposite of what it is supposed to � it produces more terrorists, increases hatred towards us and undermines any realistic chances for peace. So what purpose does this oppression really serve? Only one � perpetuating the Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which are illegal in their own right and which are the obstacle to reaching a compromise between the two peoples.

Even before enlisting I had my doubts about whether or not to join the army, whether to support the army that represents my country or to refuse. I eventually decided to enlist, because I felt that I could refuse from within, to do things otherwise, to effect change. Today I understand that the army�s actions in the occupied territories themselves, its very presence there, are what constitutes the occupation, and no action I could make, not even if I offer a more positive treatment to Palestinian civilians, could make any difference.

I believe that in a country that claims to be a democracy, it is good and even necessary for each of us to voice criticism and indignation when the country is wrong. The IDF is an organisation that fights for interests that I don�t believe in, performs anti-democratic and immoral actions and seriously undermines the chances to achieve piece. I am no longer willing to be part of it.

For the time being, Omer Shoshan is serving a sentence of twenty days in detention. But from the experience of many others who went the same route, this is just the beginning. He would probably have to pass many times in and out of the military prison gates, before the military authorities become convinced that a soldier of occupation he would never be.

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