Haggith Gor & Rela Mazali -
Both of us have been looking for years at the implications of raising children in a state that requires them by law to enlist in the army at age 18. At first we were looking at ourselves. We were two very politically aware and active women, Israeli and Jewish, conscious feminists, taking part in organizations that opposed Israel’s continued occupation of the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank, and worked against Israel’s violations of human rights. For many years each of us invested a great deal of time, energy, creativity, and what money we could, to working in and with such organizations. We regularly took part in demonstrations and protest actions.
As part of these processes, each of us formed a deeply critical view of actions taken by the Israeli army, and of the ways in which the military was deployed by successive governments, irrespective of the party in power. We began asking ourselves to what degree the military has been, and is, used as an organization truly providing defense; whether it is in fact too easily usable for purposes of oppression. We delved into extensive reading about processes of militarization in other countries, including South Africa, Ireland, Argentina, Guatemala, Chile, the USA, Hawai’i. Each of us read different books and articles, as we compared and shared in an excited atmosphere of urgency and discovery. We conducted an ongoing, unfolding dialogue about similarities and differences between the Israeli case and the ones described in our reading. We constantly drew detailed analogies or identified contrasts with our own personal experiences and insights, generating a growing, living body of shared knowledge. Gradually, we began to ask whether the power and status of the Israel Defense Force allowed and even actively encouraged continuing use of warfare as a political strategy. Were these, and not external circumstances beyond our control, actually perpetuating the state of war?