U.S. group backing Israel’s conscientious objectors


JERUSALEM (JTA) — A left-wing American Jewish group will support Israelis who refuse to be conscripted into the army.

Members of the Jewish Voice for Peace will protest at Israel Defense Forces headquarters in Tel Aviv and deliver more than 22,000 letters from Diaspora Jews in support of the conscientious objectors, called shministim, to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Israel’s daily Ha’aretz reported.

The global campaign to get Israeli high school students who were imprisoned for draft dodging released was launched Dec. 18.

Actor Ed Asner, historian and author Howard Zinn, and folk singer Ronnie Gilbert are working on the project with the organization.

Raz Bar-David Varon, 18, who is serving his second prison term for refusing, is one of many objectors quoted on the organization’s Web site.

“I wasn’t born to serve as a soldier who occupies another, and the struggle against the occupation is mine too," he said. "It is a struggle for hope, for a reality that sometimes feels so far away. I have a responsibility for this society. My responsibility is to refuse.”

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