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Refuseniks from Israel make their case

May 24, 2002 | Page 4

Dear Socialist Worker,

Contradicting the slant of the U.S. mass media, which always praise the "heroic" Israel Defense Forces (IDF), a growing number of Israeli soldiers are refusing to serve in the Occupied Territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In their words, these "refuseniks" say that they won't "continue to fight beyond the 1967 borders in order to dominate, expel, starve and humiliate an entire people."

The movement, known as Courage to Refuse, has now grown to 430 soldiers, with thousands supporting them.

Some refuseniks are on a speaking tour of the U.S. that began in April in Boston. Guy Grossman--a lieutenant in the IDF for 10 years--spoke at the Temple Israel in Boston on April 28. The large building, which seats 500, was filled, with some standing.

To hear an Israeli soldier who has carried out many missions in the Occupied Territories speak openly is sobering to say the least. The main focus of his speech was on what he called "an occupation where 3.5 million [Palestinians] lack basic human rights--are not allowed to vote, have freedom of movement or freedom of speech."

He also talked about his personal experiences--like the guilt that he felt after seeing an ambulance pull away with a 9-year-old Palestinian boy, who he had shot in the leg because the boy had tossed rocks at him.

The U.S. mass media hasn't told these stories--which has gone a long way in keeping many Americans ignorant to the plight of the Palestinians.

Grossman's speech made no mention of the refugees from the wars of 1948 and 1967 and their right of return. Nor did it address the fact that Palestinians living in Israel proper have no basic civil rights.

Hopefully though, this growing movement will lay some fertile ground to address some of these long-standing concerns of a people that have been victimized for more than 50 years on their own land.

Mark Cooper, Boston

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