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[OPIRG-EVENTS] March 3rd talk by Mai Omer, young Israeli woman and conscientious objector with letter

Please distribute.

On March 3rd, 18 year old Israeli Mai Omer will speak
in Ottawa advocating Israel's withdrawal from the
Occupied Territories.  This offers Ottawa a unique
opportunity to hear the perspective of a young Israeli
woman on what's happening in her society. Mai is one
of this year's organizers of Shministim -
conscientious objectors aged 15-18 who refuse to be
soldiers of occupation -, Mai is also challenging the
roots of militarism in her society through the New
Profile movement.

Mai has come to Canada with the help of Toronto Jewish
Youth Against Occupation and it is with absolute
pleasure that the NOWAR/PAIX is able to sponsor a talk
for her here in Ottawa.


Monday March 3, 7:00pm
302 Azrieli Theatre, Carleton University
(A new building near Dunton Tower)
Sponsored by Network to Oppose War and Racism(NOWAR)
Pacte contre l’agression, l’intolérance et la
xenophobie (PAIX)

For more information contact Bahija at
613-523-1077 (general NOWAR/PAIX number)
The event will be free, but donations accepted.
The event is accessible.

Mai Omer is also part of a growing number of young 
women and men in Israel who are resisting
participation in the military implementation of the
Occupation. From experienced reservists to young
conscripts, the number of open objectors is growing.
Many have faced prison rather than serve in the
current war against the Palestinians.

Mai is one of the organizers of this years Shministim.
In an extraordinary act of leadership, youth in
Israeli society have previously written a so called
'michtav shministim', (a twelfth-graders' letter).
These are open letters written by high school
students, young people between 15 and 18 who are
approaching the age of conscription and enlistment
into the army, but who condemn Israeli policy and
declare publicly their intention not to participate in
the war on Palestinians. The signatures signatories of
such a 2001 letter (found below) have since been
jailed as conscientious objectors, some repeatedly
arrested and convicted again upon their release if
they continue to object. Among these young people are
Haggai Mattar who celebrated his 19th birthday serving
his fourth sentence and Dror Beuml who is on his sixth
prison term, currently in solitary confinement and on
a hunger strike. Such letters written in the 1970s and
1980s received a lot of media attention and sparked
large public debates.

Mai Omar is also an active member of the New Profile
movement.  Calling itself "The Movement to Civil-ize
Israel", this group is fighting the deep roots of
militarization of Israeli society and the Israeli
education system. Their goal is to change 'the
Profile' of Israeli society from a "militarized
society of war and might, to an actively peacemaking
community in which the rights of all people are
respected and promoted equally, and the military
occupation of others’ lands ends”. They work through
advocacy and education to foster a deep critical
analysis of Israeli social structure and practice.
(See their site at
http://www.newprofile.org/english/index.html in
English or Hebrew. Highly recommended.)

Mai will speak advocating Israel's withdrawal from the
Occupied Territories. This gives people in Ottawa the
unique opportunity to hear the perspective a young
Israeli woman who has taken a active position to
change her militaristic community and who has made a
powerful decision to refuse army service.

19 Aug, 2001 

To: Prime Minister Ariel Sharon

We, the undersigned, youths who grew up and were
brought up in Israel, are about to be called to serve
in the IDF. We protest before you against the
aggressive and racist policy pursued by the Israeli
government's and its army, and to inform you that we
do not intend to take part in the execution of this

We strongly resist Israel's pounding of human rights.
Land expropriation, arrests, executions without a
trial, house demolition, closure, torture, and the
prevention of health care are only some of the crimes
the state of Israel carries out, in blunt violation of
international conventions it has ratified.

These actions are not only illegitimate; they do not
even achieve their stated goal - increasing the
citizens' personal safety. Such safety will be
achieved only through a just peace agreement between
the Israeli government and the Palestinian people.
Therefore we will obey our conscience and refuse to
take part in acts of oppression against the
Palestinian people, acts that should properly be
called terrorist actions. We call upon persons our
age, conscripts, Soldiers in the standing army, and
reserve service soldiers to do the same.

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