People Power

This post is the second in the series But What Can We Do About It?

One of the most prominent figures in the 20th-century theatre, Bertolt Brecht, had this message for armed forces chiefs:

General, your tank
is a powerful vehicle
it smashes down forests
& crushes a hundred men.
but it has one defect:
it needs a driver.

General, your bomber is powerful
it flies faster than a storm
& carries more than an elephant.
but it has one defect:
it needs a mechanic.

General, man is very useful.
He can fly & he can kill.
but he has one defect:
He can think.

In the past I’ve posted up information about individuals taking the stand of refusing to follow orders that have gone contrary to their conscience and others who have refused military service completely, US conscientious objectors and the Shministim, Israeli teenagers refusing the mandatory military service.

The following video of the Winter Soldier presentation for Iraq Veterans Against the War shows that, thankfully, there is a movement developing within the armed forces consisting of individuals demonstrating that ‘defect’, as Brecht put it,  soldiers who have realised how true his words are and who have decided that they are the ones that can change things.

<a href="http://youtube.com/watch?v=4i5ZUfpxnV0">http://youtube.com/watch?v=4i5ZUfpxnV0</a>

Iraq Veterans Against the War

Iraq Veterans Against the War YouTube channel,

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The abovementioned post dealing with conscientious objection within US forces and the Shministim, teenage opposition to mandatory military service in Israel, also contains several informative and inspiring short videos. It can be found in the Solutions section of the Centre of the Psyclone website, here.

Another Waking Giant

General, your tank is a powerful vehicle
It smashes down forests and crushes a hundred men.
But it has one defect:
It needs a driver.
General, your bomber is powerful.
It flies faster than a storm and carries more than an elephant.
But it has one defect:
It needs a mechanic.
General, man is very useful.
He can fly and he can kill.
But he has one defect:
He can think

By Bertolt Brecht

Previous posts (here, here, and here) have focused on a growing movement inside armed forces around the world in response to individuals thinking about illegal and immoral wars of aggression and military occupations, and their role in them.

Coming posts will present more information on this welcome development.

Pioneers of Peace

“The youth that refuse military service are the pioneers of a warless world.”- Albert Einstein


In Israel all high school leavers are required by law to join the Israeli military and perform a period of military service. The Shministim are Israeli teenagers who have been imprisoned for refusing to serve in an army that occupies the Palestinian Territories. Jewish Voice for Peace are campaigning on behalf of the young Israeli prisoners of conscience with a campaign called December 18th, the launch date in 2008 of a global campaign to release them from jail.

The following are photos and testimony of some of the Shministim.

Name: Tamar Katz

Age: 19

Location: Tel-Aviv

Why I am one of the Shministim:

“I refuse to enlist in the Israeli military on conscientious grounds. I am not willing to become part of an occupying army, that has been an invader of foreign lands for decades, which perpetuates a racist regime of robbery in these lands, tyrannizes civilians and makes life difficult for millions under a false pretext of security.”

First Sentence: 28th Sept. – 10th Oct. 2008 (12 days)Second Sentence: 12th – 30th Oct. 2008(18 days)Third Sentence: 1st – 22nd Dec. 2008 (21 days)

Read more…

Name: Yuval Ophir-Auron

Age: 19

Why I am one of the Shministim:

“I am convinced that it is no one but ourselves who determines that it is our fate to live by the sword. There is another way, which is not the way of war. This is the path of dialogue, of understanding, of concession, forgiveness, of peace. I believe that a person should take responsibility and feel reconciled to the way he chooses. This is why I shall not join an army behind whose actions I cannot stand and whose behavior I cannot justify.”

First Sentence: 24th Nov. – 5th Dec. 2008 Second Sentence: 12th – 7th – 14th December 2008

Read more…

Name: Raz Bar-David Varon

Age: 18

Location: Tel-Aviv

Why I am one of the Shministim:

“I wasn’t born to serve as a soldier who occupies another, and the struggle against the occupation is mine too. 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.”

First Sentence: 3rd – 21st Nov. 2008 (18 days)Second Sentence: 24th Nov. – 30th Nov. 2008 (6 days)Third Sentence: 21st Dec. – 9th Jan (currently in prison)

Read more…

Name: Omer Goldman

Age: 19

Location: Tel-Aviv

Why I am one of the Shministim:

“I believe in service to the society I am part of, and that is precisely why I refuse to take part in the war crimes committed by my country. Violence will not bring any kind of solution, and I shall not commit violence, come what may.”

First Sentence: 22nd Sept. – 10th Oct. 2008 (18 days)Second Sentence: 12th – 24th Oct. 2008 (10 days)

Read more…

Name: Mia Tamarin

Age: 19

Location: Tel-Aviv

Why I am one of the Shministim:

“I cannot become part of an organization the purpose of which is to fend off violence by violence, because it stands unequivocally contrary to everything I believe in and to my whole life. There always is another, non-violent option, and it is this option that I choose.”

First Sentence: 28th Sept. – 10th Oct. 2008 (12 days)Second Sentence: 12th – 24th Oct. 2008 (12 days)Third Sentence:5th – 23rd Nov 2008 (18 days)

Read more…

Name: Sahar Vardi

Age: 18

Location: Jerusalem

Why I am one of the Shministim:

“I realize that the soldier at the checkpoint is not responsible for the wretched policy of the oppressor towards civilians, I am unable to relieve that soldier of responsibility for his conduct … I mean the human responsibility of not causing another human being to suffer.”

First Sentence: 25th – 31st Aug. 2008 (6 days)Second Sentence: 12th – 30th Oct. (18 days)Third Sentence: 3rd – 21st Nov. 2008 (18 days)

Read more…

Name: Udi Nir

Age: 19

Location: Tel-Aviv

Why I am one of the Shministim:

“I will not lend my own hand to the occupation and to acts that contradict my most basic values: human rights, democracy and the personal responsibility each and every human being bears towards fellow human beings.”

Sentence: Aug. 21st – Sept. 7th 2008 (18 days)

Read more…

<a href="http://youtube.com/watch?v=pNjggLhQo6w&amp;feature">http://youtube.com/watch?v=pNjggLhQo6w&amp;feature</a>