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(en) Israel, Another refusnic of the High Schoolers initiative: Haggai Matar imprisoned

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Fri, 25 Oct 2002 01:34:07 -0400 (EDT)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

> From: Anat Matar
(...) Haggai was sentenced today to 14 days at Military Prison No. 4, for refusing to be
drafted. Upon his release he's expected to receive a second sentence, etc. He just
called from jail, high spirited, and asked me to deliver the message appended below, a
declaration he wrote a few days ago.

If you wish to write to him, use the 'shministim' e-mail address
Shministim@hotmail.com. Snail mail is also an option: 'Shministim' (High School
pupils), P.O.Box 70094, Haifa 31700, Israel. His friends and
I will collect the letters and messages and will bring them to Haggai on our first visit.
Yours, Anat Matar

Haggai Letter
Today, October 23rd, 2002, I will be sent to the military prison, as a result of my
insistence upon my political views, which prevent me from enlisting to the IDF.
Despite my young age, merely 18, and despite having no first-hand memories from
Israel?s earlier years, I can wholeheartedly declare that the country has reached an
unprecedented moral low. This extreme deterioration began with ?Barak?s generous
offers?, which were but another attempt at forcing a unilateral agreement upon the
Palestinian people. Today, the militarization and racism among the Jewish population
have reached the level of fascism.

The repression of critical thinking, the total acceptance of the occupation?s crimes, the
idolization of the army and the gradual acceptance of the principles of ?ethnic
cleansing?- all these constitute only part of our society?s collapse. To this list one
should add the systematic mistreatment of the Palestinian citizens of Israel, the hateful
violence addressed at peace demonstrators, and the heartless attitude towards the
abnormal and the weak.

With all these, I refuse to cooperate. The voice of conscience and the
lessons humanity should have learnt from countless similar situations in the past leave
me no choice but to refuse enlistment to the Israeli army - which is falsely dubbed a
?Defence Force?.

My refusal to enlist is inevitable. The oppression known by the peoples
of this region during the Age of the Empires, the torment of the slaves and the Indians
in North America, the Algerian War of Independence and Apartheid in South Africa -
all these precedents have made my refusal inevitable. My grandfather?s actions in the
Second World War, in his fight against Nazi Fascism, and his belief in humanism -
these too lead to my refusal. At home I learnt of oppression and justice. At the face of
such evil as one may find here and now, there is no other way.

On this significant day of my life, accompanied by my supportive family and friends, I
wish to acknowledge my companions, the unsung heroes of our struggle: the
Palestinian who endures the occupation without turning to violence against the Israeli
civilian population, in spite of his lack of hope for a decent life; the Palestinian citizen
of Israel, who keeps striving for co-existence despite day-to-day humiliations; the
youth who avoids serving the occupation, her upbringing notwithstanding; the
international peace activist, who physically defends Palestinians in the Occupied
Territories; and my friend, a girl who was raised in a right-wing family, fell in love with
an Arab and was consequently driven out of her home.

While in prison, when forced to salute State and Army - I shall, in my mind and heart,
be saluting all my brave friends, to whom I cannot equal, because of my identity; all
those whose sacrifice is so much greater then mine - for peace, against the

Haggai Matar

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