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Israeli refusers from the Mesarvot Conscription Refusers Network

Sun June 9 @ 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm EDT

Israeli Refusers


In Israel, Jewish men must serve for 3 years and women for 2 years.  All those who serve can be called up for reserve duty up to the age of 40.  It is quite costly to refuse military service given the centrality of the military in Israeli life.  In this webinar we will meet 3 young Israeli refusers, who have, or will, refuse to do their mandatory military service.  Two of them have already done prison time while the 3rd is going to refuse when he is called up.  Their courage is incredible in a country where almost everyone, except for most religious men, is required to serve.  Also, military service has implications for one’s civilian life: what jobs you can get, how you will be accepted, or ostracized, among friends and family – so this is an extraordinary decision that they’re making at the young age of 18!

The organization at the center of the refuser movement is Mesarvot, Hebrew for “refuse”, a network of Israeli youth dedicated to supporting people who refuse to serve in the military.  Our three speakers are members of Mesarvot.

In 2022, at the age of 19, Einat Gerlitz publicly refused to enlist in the Israeli military, for which she spent 87 days in prison. “My friends say that serving in the army is the opportunity of a lifetime,” she wrote at the time, “but I think that the act of refusing is my chance to use my privilege as an Israeli Jew in order to actively change our cruel reality.”

Iddo Elam plans to refuse when his conscription date arrives a few months after high school graduation (in 2024). He’s been a Mesarvot activist for 2 years, and a committee member of the Tel Aviv branch of the Israeli Communist Youth.  He says, “The process of conscientious refusal is not an easy one.  You can feel very secluded as an outsider. So this network basically gives a home to the people who decide to refuse.”  Iddo is a jazz musician and plays the double bass.

Shahar Schwartz is a 20 year old man, who spent 130 days in military prison in 2023 due to his refusal to enlist to the Israeli army, after which he was exempted. “We live in a never-ending cycle of violence and loss, perpetuated by the army. Our generation was born into this reality, but it will not be this way forever. I refused to enlist because I felt I must resist this.” Shahar is currently studying biology for his bachelor’s degree.

RegisterRegister to attend.


Sun June 9
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm EDT
Event Category:


Online Event


Massachusetts Peace Action Education Fund
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