Yesh Gvul

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Yesh Gvul (Hebrew: יש גבול, can be translated as "there is a limit", as "the border exists", or as "enough is enough"[1]) is a movement founded in 1982, by combat veterans, at the outbreak of the Lebanon War, who refused to serve in Lebanon and has expanded its opposition to the war in Lebanon to the negation of service in the occupied territories, reflected in the current Yesh Gvul slogan:

“We don’t shoot, we don’t cry, and we don’t serve in the occupied territories !”[2]

Yesh Gvul's members performance of military duty is selective and dependent upon the nature and location of service.[3] As "Selective refusal" is a form of "civil disobedience" (modelled on methods pioneered by Mahatma Gandhi) the combat veterans are open to military and civil charges.[4][5][6][7] Yesh Gvul's campaign of selective refusal played a part in the Israeli governments decision to withdraw from south Lebanon.[8]

Adam Keller[edit]

In the Adam Keller Court Martial which drew considerable public attention in April–May 1988, Reserve Corporal Adam Keller was charged with "Insubordination" and "Spreading of Propaganda Harmful to Military Discipline" in that while on active military duty he had written on 117 tanks and other military vehicles graffiti with the text: "Soldiers of the IDF, refuse to be occupiers and oppressors, refuse to serve in the occupied territories!" [9] as well as placing on electricity pylons in the military camp where he was serving—and on inside doors of the stalls in the officers' toilet - stickers with the slogans "Down with the occupation!". Keller was convicted and sentenced to three months imprisonment—considered a relatively mild sentence, as the maximum penalty could have been six years, three for each of the charges.[10] Keller was an active member of Yesh Gvul, but declared that he had done his act on his own without consulting anybody else. For its part, the movement did not take responsibility for his act, but did provide his wife with the financial support given to the families of refusers.

Methods of support[edit]

Yesh Gvul operates in three main areas: personal support for each "refusenik"; activities for an end to the occupation; and a broad campaign of public education for social change within Israeli society.[11]

Currently it sees its main role as "backing soldiers who refuse duties of a repressive or aggressive nature" with both moral and financial assistance.[2][12][13] Yesh Gvul have found over the years that an effective support mechanism for jailed refuseniks is by having support groups from outside Israel adopt the "refusenik".[14] Support groups are alerted, triggering a range of activities. Emails, letters and phone calls go out to the refusenik's family and to the jail where he is held; the adoption group exerts political pressure with protests to the nearest Israeli diplomatic mission, while conducting extensive actions within its own community. The adoption group also offers material assistance, raising funds to help the refusenik's dependants.[15]

Yesh Gvul also engages in human rights activities, such as petitioning British courts to issue arrest warrants for IDF officers accused of human rights abuses and war crimes.[16][17]

A petition, delivered to Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Defense Minister Ariel Sharon was signed by 3,000 reservists, some of whom were court martialed and served time in military prison for refusing to obey orders.

From the second Intifada, Yesh Gvul has joined a broad coalition of groups supporting the right of conscripts to demand alternative humanitarian service.

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Nations, Identities, Cultures By V. Y. Mudimbe
  2. ^ a b Yesh Gvul
  3. ^ Central European Journal of International and Security Studies Between Militarism and Pacifism: Conscientious Objection and Draft Resistance in Israel by Yulia Zemlinskaya
  4. ^ Peace News Yesh Gvul: a uniquely Israeli innovation in the culture of protest by Peretz Kidron
  5. ^ Ney York Times Saying No to Israel's Occupation By Ishai Menuchin March 9, 2002, Ishai Menuchin was a major in the Israel Defense Forces reserves and chairman of Yesh Gvul, the soldiers' movement for selective refusal.
  6. ^ Haaretz Bound by their conscience By Joseph Raz 31 December 2003
  7. ^ from 1971 till 1979, the Ministry of Defense pragmatically allowed such selective objectors, when drafted, to serve within the ‘green line’ separating Israel from the occupied territories (Epstein 1999). "Army authorities had given objectors a guarantee that they would be stationed according to their wishes, within the borders of Israel, as long as refusal was an isolated phenomenon. Now policy has changed. What had once been sporadic instances of refusal with which the IDF was prepared to live, has changed in character and become an organized protest whose aim is to turn the IDF—the national army, necessarily disengaged from any political or ideological arguments – into the battleground for a kind of confrontation which the army cannot be associated with." Proceedings of the Supreme Court, 24 September 1980; cited in Peri (1993). The freedom of conscience and sociological perspectives on dilemmas of collective secular disobedience: the case of Israel by Alek D. Epstein
  8. ^ The freedom of conscience and sociological perspectives on dilemmas of collective secular disobedience: the case of Israel by Alek D. Epstein In 1986, Lt Gen. Moshe Levi, approaching the end of his tenure as chief of staff, admitted that refusals to serve in Lebanon had played a role in Minister of Defense Moshe Arens’s decision to begin a withdrawal of the IDF from Lebanon (Peri 1993: 155).
  9. ^ Guardian article 'I realised the stupidity of it'—by Chris McGreal appeared in The Guardian, Tuesday March 11, 2003
  10. ^ Nunn, Maxine Kaufman (1993) Creative Resistance: Anecdotes of Nonviolent Action by Israel-based Groups Alternative Information Center, p 22
  11. ^ Hedva, Beth (2001) Betrayal, Trust, and Forgiveness: A Guide to Emotional Healing and Self-renewal Celestial Arts, ISBN 1-58761-096-5 pp 234-235
  12. ^ labour.net Yesh Gvul Refusniks Fund Report by Peretz Kidron published 24 January 2004
  13. ^ Israeli left archives
  14. ^ Haaretz They also serve who refuse to serve By Joseph Algazy 6 September 2001
  15. ^ War Resisters International
  16. ^ Haaretz War crimes prosecution overseas: How should Israel respond?[dead link]
  17. ^ Haaretz Knesset to discuss lawsuits against IDF officers abroad By Yuval Yoaz and Gideon Alon 13 September 2005[dead link]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Gans, Chaim (1992) Philosophical Anarchism and Political Disobedience Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-41450-4
  • Hedva, Beth (2001) Betrayal, Trust, and Forgiveness: A Guide to Emotional Healing and Self-renewal Celestial Arts, ISBN 1-58761-096-5
  • Mudimbe V Y (1997) Nations, Identities, Cultures Duke University Press, ISBN 0-8223-2065-7
  • Nunn, Maxine Kaufman (1993) Creative Resistance: Anecdotes of Nonviolent Action by Israel-based Groups Alternative Information Center

External links[edit]