My name is Maya Brand-Feigenbaum, and on July 14, 2019, my drafting date to the IDF, I will refuse to be drafted. I have contemplated this for several years, knowing that this decision will get me imprisoned in a military prison. I believe that refusing to serve in the military is the best and most effective way for me to promote anti-war principles and contribute to the ending of the occupation.
The principles and values by which I was raised and educated are equality – leading me to view everybody, myself included, as equal; and critical thinking – leading me to take nothing for granted and try to think deeply and open up to a variety of perspectives.
Already as a young girl, I have had many opportunities to meet a large number of people living on the west bank under occupation. I visited their homes, heard their life stories and saw people robbed of their freedom. I took part in gatherings of Jews and Palestinians who are social activists engaged in a non-violent struggle to end the occupation and bring about a reality of shared life that would be safe, equal and free.
I have always agreed with non-violent action for social change. Great leaders such as Gandhi, Wangari Maathai and Martin Luther King Jr. inspired me and gave me hope to act for a better world and fight oppression, with the goal of improving all lives.
I believe that there is no dispute – even across political disagreements, that war leads to destruction, death and poverty, and makes no contribution whatsoever to the human society. Committed to the belief that states, peoples and humans can resolve disputes and disagreements through respectful and non-violent communication, I cannot take part in an organization that operates wars.
Through the close connections I have developed with different people from many locations worldwide, I realized that religion, nationality and skin color should not be a barrier to human relationships. Despite my vision of an unseparated humanity, reality is that people are divided along the lines of religion, language and skin color. This division creates social gaps, inequality, alienation, fear and hatred. I believe that all groups have a right to self-realization, not at the account of any other group. I live in a Jewish state which exercises its national right, but interrupts the right to national realization of other peoples, in and outside of Israel.
In my refusal, my heart if filled with personal stories of my friends regarding the injustices they suffered by military control throughout their entire life. My heart goes to my Palestinian friends who live in fear and constant insecurity. My heart goes to Palestinian children who are taken to custody, away from their parents, subject to disgraceful treatment which crushes their human dignity. My heart goes to all of the innocent civilians who were killed for demonstrating non-violently for their freedom.
I protest against the humiliation of people who want to live freely and have to pass checkpoints every day. I protest against all war crimes, committed quietly beneath the surface.
In solidarity with my Palestinian friends who act non-violently, I – an Israeli – am also taking non-violent action to promote peace and end the occupation. I cannot take part in an army that violates the basic human rights of my Palestinian brothers and sisters.
Decades of domination of another people is compromising the security of the State of Israel. As a woman who loves this country, whose landscape and people are a part of me, I cannot take part in the preservation of this situation. I am aware that our reality requires having a military that will act to protect us against real threats. However, at the same time, we also need people who will act to promote a war-free reality. Anti-war activity is for the best interest of the State and the world, and will result in long-term security. Acting to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and ending the occupation is in the best interest of all residents of this land – Jews, Muslims and Christians alike.
My refusal to be drafted is based in my desire for a benign social change, my hope to create a society which values are based on respect, communication, non-violence, listening, love and equality.