April 29 2009
Defend the Voices of Peace in Israel
This week, members of New Profile, an Israeli pacifist group, were summoned for interrogation. Their computers were confiscated and in order to gain their release they were forced to sign agreements not to communicate with their political friends for 30 days. This new repression is a troubling sign that core democratic values like freedom of speech and of association, and the freedom to follow one’s moral convictions, are considered dispensable by the current Israeli government.
New Profile is being wrongfully accused of inciting conscientious objectors, when their real “crime” is to offer support and counsel to those who have chosen not to enlist in the military. The government’s actions –- prison for conscientious objectors, and now harassment and repression for those who offer them support -- reveal a deep moral violence that criminalizes what is, in the end, a refusal to kill.
It is not our intention to choose sides, but to insist that the real choice for the Middle East, the choice that matters, is not between supporting Israel and supporting Palestine.
The choice that matters is between violence and nonviolence.
Humanists therefore express our complete support for the courageous nonviolent activists on both sides who have risked their safety, their reputations and their freedom to follow the call of their conscience and to tell the world that the only path to peace and security for this region torn by violence is the path of reconciliation. How else to escape the endless wheel of revenge?
These brave women and men understand that the time has come to demilitarize the relationships between peoples and nations. Nothing good – no true security, no true benefit -- will come from this worn out path of imposing the will of one group upon another by the use, or the threat, of force.
New Profile has stated: "These recent acts confirm what we have been contending for many years: the militarism of society in Israel harms the sacred principles of democracy, freedom of expression and freedom of political association. One who believed that until now criminal files were conjured up "only" for Arab citizens of Israel saw this morning that none of us can be certain that s/he can freely express an opinion concerning the failures of society and rule in Israel."
The world should defend New Profile because we need their voices – the voices of reason, the voices of peace, the voices of reconciliation. Far from being silenced, their call for peace should be amplified and honored. They deserve our respect and our full support, for their courage, their profound humanity and for the example they give to the world.
To Obama on Torture: Do the Right Thing
Rafael De La Rubia at the United Nations