From: Anat Matar
Sent: Wednesday, October 23, 2002 9:35 PM
Subject: Haggai in prison

Hello dear friends,

Haggai was sentenced today to 14 days at Military Prison No. 4, for refusing to be drafted to the IDF. This is his first sentence, and upon his release he's expected to receive a second sentence, etc. He just called us from jail, high spirited, and asked me to deliver to you the message appended below, a declaration he wrote a few days ago.

If you wish to write to him, use either the 'shministim' e-mail address below or mine. Snail mail is also an option: 'shministim', 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 there, next Wednesday.

I'll keep you updated of further developments,

Yours,
Anat


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 the fact that I do not carry with me memories from Israel’s past, I can wholeheartedly declare that Israel 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 area at 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 unseen 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 European 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 who sacrifice so much more then I do – for peace, against the occupation. - Haggai Matar


“Shministim” PO Box 70094, Haifa 31700, Israel, Shministim@hotmail.com