Asner, Zinn join call to free Shministim. Teams lobby Consulate Generals.

Actor Ed Asner and historian Howard Zinn join American Jewish peace group in call for release of Israeli teenagers
Over 12,000 sign letters to Israeli Minister of Defense calling for release of Shministim, Israel’s young conscientious objectors


[Oakland, December 12, 2008] American peace group Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) announced a campaign to pressure the Israeli government to release young Israeli conscientious objectors, called Shministim, who refuse to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces because of Israel’s 41-year occupation of the Palestinian Territories.

JVP is working closely with the Shministim (twelfth-graders) to organize a Day of Action on December 18th when teams will visit Israeli Consul Generals across the country to lobby for the release of the young students. On that day, the Shministim and their supporters will hold a rally in Tel Aviv and will hand-deliver over 12,000 postcards and letters, gathered through JVP’s Shministim website, http: www.December18th.org, to Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

The campaign, which Ed Asner wrote about in Huffington Post, was launched with a statement by A Peoples History of the United States author Howard Zinn who said, “The Shministim — all about ages 17, 18, 19 and in the 12th grade — are taking a stand. They believe in a better, more peaceful future for themselves and for Israelis and Palestinians, and they are refusing to join the Israeli army. “

As part of the campaign, Shministim Omer Goldman, daughter of the former Mossad deputy chief, wrote, “Earlier this year, I went to a peace demonstration in Palestine. I had always been told that the Israeli army was there to defend me, but during that demonstration Israeli soldiers opened fire on me and my friends with rubber bullets and tear-gas grenades. I was shocked and scared. I saw the truth. I saw the reality.”

So far, about 7 of the approximately 60 young Israeli students who have signed the Shministim letter of 2008 have served time in prison. Typically, they go in for up to 3 weeks, are released for a week and then sent back in. This continues until they are 21 or obtain a medical release.

Nineteen-year-old Tamar Katz is currently in imprisoned under harsh conditions in solitary confinement because she refuses to wear a military uniform.

References:
December18th website: http://www.december18th.org
Shministim letter of 2008: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=46805270728
Profile of Omer Goldman, daughter of former Mossad deputy head: http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/45588,features,conscience-of-the-israeli-spymasters-daughter-
Latest report on Tamar Katz: http://www.newprofile.org/showdata.asp?pid=1286
Ed Asner post on Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ed-asner/shminisitim_b_150043.html
Jewish Voice for Peace: http://www.jvp.org


About Jewish Voice for Peace
Founded in 1996, Jewish Voice for Peace is a national grassroots peace organization dedicated to promoting a US foreign policy in the Middle East based on peace, democracy, human rights and respect for international law. With some 30,000 supporters and members, JVP’s board of Jewish American and Israeli advisors includes Pulitzer and Tony award winner Tony Kushner, actor Ed Asner, poet Adrienne Rich as well as other respected rabbis, artists, scholars and activists.
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