Israeli military resisters speak out against Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories

The talk by Maya Wind and Netta Mishly, two Israeli women who refused compulsory military service in Israel due to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, spoke eloquently tonight about the conditions in the occupied territories and their decisions to refuse to participate in it.   They gave a very clear analysis of the economic and political factors enabling Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and appealed to people in the U.S. to cut military aid to Israel and to divest from companies that invest in Israel.

Earlier in the day, they met with a group of students from the Hakipu’u Learning Center Hawaiian Charter School where they exchanged stories and information about the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and the U.S. occupation of Hawai’i.



Posted on: Sunday, September 20, 2009

Meetings put focus on Israeli military action

By Michael Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawai’i is shaping up to be an unlikely flashpoint for debate about Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip with visits this week from controversial Israeli opposition leader Tzipora Malka “Tzipi” Livni and a pair of Israeli women once imprisoned for refusing mandatory service in the Israeli army.

Livni, the opposition leader and head of the Ariel Sharon-founded Kadima, the largest party in the Israeli Knesset, or parliament, will be the featured speaker at Gov. Linda Lingle’s 2009 International Women’s Leadership Conference Tuesday at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel and Resort.

Though widely praised for her efforts to secure peace in the Palestinian territories through diplomatic means, Livni has been vilified in other quarters as a nationalist hawk whose term as foreign minister was marked by heavy-handed military actions, including the bombardment of Gaza last December and January.

Tomorrow, Maya Wind and Netta Mishly will visit the University of Hawai’i-Manoa campus as part of their “Why We Refuse: A National Tour of Israeli Young Women for Peace.”

Wind and Mishly, both 19, were imprisoned for refusing to serve in the Israeli army, a requirement for all Israelis upon high school graduation. Both are part of a group of conscientious objectors known as the Shministim.

The UH event is sponsored by Friends of Sabeel-Hawai’i, World Can’t Wait, Jewish Voice for Peace-Hawai’i, and the national organization Code Pink.

The groups also plan to demonstrate in Waikiki on Tuesday to protest Livni’s appearance at the governor’s conference.

2 protests planned

One group of protesters will situate themselves at Royal Hawaiian and Kala-kaua from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Another group is expected to demonstrate on Beach Walk throughout the day.

Margaret Brown, of the Friends of Sabeel-Hawai’i, said the UH event was planned before organizers learned of Livni’s visit.

“(The) tour of the Shministim was planned for the Mainland independently of the governor’s invitation to Livni,” Brown said. “However, those of us involved in organizing the tour saw this as an opportunity to draw some comparisons between the kind of leadership exhibited by these 19-year-old war resisters and the leadership of a politician who has helped lead Israel into its most brutal war in Gaza.”

Lingle was unavailable for comment due to her observance of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, a spokes-man said.

Livni, identified as a former agent for the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad by The Times of London, has held numerous posts in the Israeli government, including foreign minister, justice minister and vice prime minister.

narrow win

Livni’s Kadima party narrowly beat out rival Likud for the most seats in this year’s Knesset elections (held a year early due to the resignation of prime minister Ehud Olmert). Regardless, President Shimon Peres tapped Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu to form the coalition government, the first time that the leader of the largest party was given this responsibility.

Although lauded by some for her expressed stands against violence and her promotion of a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian situation, Livni has been criticized for her alleged complicity in atrocities against Palestinian civilians during her time as foreign minister.

In a much-circulated article titled “Former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is No Role Model for Hawai’i’s Women,” retired U.S. Army Col. Ann Wright said Livni was a “key Cabinet member in the Israeli government’s decisions to conduct massive military attacks (in) Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2008,” which resulted in thousands of civilian deaths.

Livni’s appearance in Hawai’i comes a week after a United Nations report that found evidence of war crimes by both Israeli and Palestinian forces.

World Can’t Wait member Carolyn Hadfield said Livni’s appearance at the leadership conference is especially inappropriate given Hawai’i’s history as an illegally overthrown nation.

“In Hawai’i, where there are issues of occupation, for Lingle to bring in an occupier and hold her up as a role model in Hawai’i is outrageous,” Hadfield said.

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