We speak with two Refusers from Israel, Yasmin Yablonko and Khaled Farrag, who are on tour in the United States to raise awareness about the conditions that youth face in Israel. Yasmin and Khaled are part of a coalition of organizations called the Refuser Solidarity Network that supports teenagers who decide not to serve in the Israeli Defense Force. Then we speak with Ramah Kudaimi of End the Occupation and Chip Gibbons of Freedom to Boycott – Maryland about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement to end Israeli Apartheid and the push back against it in the United States.
Relevant articles and websites:
No One Would Serve in the Israeli Army if They Knew; Israel Should Let Conscientious Objector Serve Both Society and Her Conscience by Tair Kaminer
Refuser Solidarity Network Facebook Page
Congress Under Pressure to Defund University Middle East Programs by Chip Gibbons
The BDS Movement and the Return of McCarthyism by Chip Gibbons
Palestinian-American Teen Brutalized by Israeli Police Testifies on Capitol Hill by Chip Gibbons
End the Occupation
Yasmin Yablonko is a 23 year-old Israeli conscientious Objector from Jaffa. Today she is the coordinator of Mesarvot, a newly established network of Israeli organizations supporting refusal and opposing the occupation. The network helps elevate the voices of young people refusing military service, offering them capacity building, assisting with media work and helping them organize.Yasmin currently studies Humanities and Arts in the Tel Aviv University.
Khaled Farrag is a 34 year old Palestinian Druze conscientious objector from Rama village in the Upper Galilee. In 1999, after moving to Jerusalem, Khaled refused to serve in the army and was sentenced to two months in military prison. Khaled was of the founders of Urfod, a movement that calls for ending compulsory military service imposed on Druze men at the age of 18, and reconnecting Druze with their Palestinian and Arab identity as it was throughout the history.
Khaled law at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, established and run a preparatory school for university admission in East Jerusalem and co-found Grassroots Jerusalem, a Palestinian NGO working on empowering communities in East Jerusalem.
Ramah Kudaimi is the membership and outreach coordinator for End the Occupation. She serves on the board of the Washington Peace Center. She has been an activist with other grassroots organizations including CODEPINK: Women for Peace and the Arab American Action Network. She has a Master of Arts degree in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University and a B.S. in Journalism from Northwestern University. Her writing has been published by Al Jazeera English, The Progressive, Truthout, and more.
Chip Gibbons is a long time supporter of the Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement. In 2014, he helped form Keep Free Speech in the Free State to battle an anti-BDS bill in Maryland and more recently served as legislative Chair of Freedom to Boycott-Maryland. As a freelance journalist, his work has frequently covered the struggle for Palestinian human rights, as well as attempts to suppress the it.
Gibbons is a Legal Fellow at the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and Defending Dissent Foundation, where he heads the Activism is Not Terrorism Campaign, which focuses on protecting the rights of activists with an emphasis on the increased use of anti-terrorism legislation against non-violent activists and terrorism as a pretext for the surveillance of First Amendment protected activities. Additionally, he is a freelance writer and journalist whose work has appeared at Truthout, Counterpunch, and the Dissent NewsWire.