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[OPIRG-EVENTS] March 3 talk by young Israeli conscientious objector Mai Omer

Subject: March 3rd talk by Mai Omer, young Israeli woman and 
conscientious objector

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
Sponsored by NOWAR-PAIX (Network to Oppose War And Racism - Pacte 
contre l'Agression, l'Intolérance et la Xenophobie)

For more information contact Bahija at bahija.1@rogers.com
613-523-1077 (general NOWAR/PAIX number)
The event will be free, but donations accepted.
The venue 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 
othersí 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 policy.

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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