Media and blogger inquiries: Sydney Levy at Jewish Voice for Peace, Sydney@jvp.org, 510-465-1777

Who are the Shministim?

Shministim means “twelfth-graders” in Hebrew. Military service is mandatory after high school for young Jewish Israelis. The Shministim are Israeli youth who refuse to serve in the army because it enforces Israel’s 40-year occupation of the Palestinians.

While a number of Shministim letters have been written in the past (read about the first letter sent to Prime Minister Golda Meir here ), dozens of youth have signed the current letter for Shministim 2010, and about one hundred signed last year’s 2009 Shministim letter. Each letter articulates the basis for refusal by members of that year’s “graduating class.”

Because of their principled refusal to serve in an occupying army, youth who sign the letter face jail terms in Israeli military prisons. Terms range from 21 to 28 days; those who refuse to wear a military uniform while in jail are sent to solitary confinement for the duration of their term.

After completing their sentence, they are then drafted again and if they refuse a second time, as most do, they face the same sentence. This can be a repeated process in which Shministim return home for a few days or longer and are then drafted and then imprisoned. Even through they refuse to serve, they still in a sense ‘belong’ to the military until they receive their discharge papers. A Shministi may never receive these papers, and although the Israeli military may tire of re-calling objectors into prison regularly, without these papers, an objector’s fate is always uncertain. There is literally no end to the number of times youth might be sent back to jail.

Read the 2009 Shministim blog (in Hebrew) here.

About Jewish Voice for Peace

This campaign is sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace, America’s largest national Jewish grassroots peace group dedicated to reaching a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians based on the principles of international human rights law.

Contact us at info-AT-jewishvoiceforpeace.org

We work with activists in Palestine and Israel, and in broad coalition with other Jewish, Arab-American, faith-based, and peace and social justice organizations to support the aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians for justice, security and self-determination.

We call for:

  • A U.S. foreign policy based on promoting peace, democracy, human rights, and respect for international law
  • An end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem
  • A resolution of the Palestinian refugee problem consistent with international law and equity
  • An end to all violence against civilians

Photographs of the 2009 Shministim were taken by ActiveStills.org, a nonprofit collective of photographers dedicated to social change.

Shministim support is provided by Shministim from prior years. Additional support is provided by New Profile, an Israeli NGO that counsels conscientious objectors and articulates a searing critique of Israeli militarism.

Read more about the Shministim

Conscientious objector to IDF service jailed (Ynet)

Father, forgive me, I will not fight for your Israel (The Sunday Times, UK)

Israelis challenging Israel’s Militarization (Znet)

A Letter (Shani Werner) (New Profile)

Fighting on a different front (Guardian, UK)

U.S. group backing Israel’s conscientious objectors (JTA)

Americans support conscientious objectors to IDF military service (Haaretz)

Shministim deserve praise for resisting (The Star, Canada)

Reservist arrested for refusing to take part in Gaza op