To the courageous soldiers who say "NO!"         
by Benjamin von Mendelssohn, 2 April 2002

 "We will not go on fighting beyond the 'green line' for the purposes of domination, expulsion, starvation and humiliation of an entire people".
From the declaration of combat officers and soldiers of the IDF published in the Ha'aretz on 27January 2002

My name is Benjamin von Mendelssohn and I work at the "Institute for Global Peace Work" in Tamera, Portugal. We in Tamera read the declaration quoted above and hope began to rise.

I am not a young Israeli soldier who is asked to fulfil the inhuman orders of the occupation. I do not know what I would do if I were in this situation. I live in the relative safety of a peace project in Portugal.

From here I want to express my deep respect, my gratitude and my solidarity to the growing number of young men who refuse to serve in the occupied territories.

It is a service of peace to the world to take on the consequences that this decision brings along in a militaristic society. 

I know the story of a friend of mine who served in the IDF. He realized the insanity of it when his best friend was blown to pieces right next to him. He quit the army and quit the country.

But he also told me about the fascination to hold a gun, the surge of power that one feels when you "can take somebody down from a 100 meters distance as a sniper".

This is the disease of a male society. We get trained what it means to be a man right from the beginning. We hardly get trained what it means to be a human.

But we young men should grow up instead of just growing old. We need to quit using violence to compensate the fear that we have inside. Fear that we project to the outside and then run fighting against it. Fear that threatens to strangle the whole globe.

I hope more and more young men start to become fighters against that fear, freedom fighters. What about using all our male strength in body and mind for the protection of our planet?  

If this movement of courageous soldiers who say "NO!" to war - inside or outside - as the first Israeli soldiers do right now, would grow bigger, big enough that the discriminating punishments can not be kept up, then I could believe in a beginning peace process. 

They need our support now. The support of their mothers, who do not want to loose their sons, of their fathers, who might serve in the army themselves but nevertheless recognize the new, of their friends who know that it is easier to be courageous together.

They need the support of international peace workers and peace initiatives who can provide rest, healing and a new orientation - simply through the advantage of not being involved directly.  

And then we all need a perspective, a peace plan in which we can believe.

We need models for this peace. Places where peace can be researched, seen and felt. Places where peace and trust can grow between humans, between humans and animals, plants and all of creation.   

May these courageous soldiers be the beginning of a stronger global peace movement.

May they grow into part of a movement for a free earth.

Shalom and Salaam!

Refusing to kill