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Forum Post: refusenik Yonaton Shapira with amy goodman

Posted 3 years ago on July 24, 2014, 6:27 p.m. EST by flip (7101)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

AMY GOODMAN: Well, for more, we’re joined by the author of that article, Yael Even Or. She is an Israeli journalist and activist who, during her service, evaluated candidates for the recruitment department of the Israeli army. She’s now a graduate student in international affairs at The New School.

And in Tel Aviv, we’re joined by Yonatan Shapira, a former Israeli captain and Air Force pilot. He was one of the organizers of a 2003 letter signed by 27 Air Force pilots who refused to participate in Israeli military operations against Palestinians. Shapira has also signed on to the internal Israeli movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, known as BDS.

Yael Even Or and Yonatan Shapira, we thank you very much for being with us. I want to stay with you, Yonatan, in Tel Aviv, first. Talk about the climate right now in Tel Aviv and where you stand 10 years after you resisted attacking Palestinians as an Air Force pilot.

YONATAN SHAPIRA: Hi, Amy. The line is not perfect, but I will try my best. Just before I answer your question, you asked me where do I stand. So, if the cameraman can make a little wider shot, I can just turn to the back and show you the center of Tel Aviv. You can look behind me. The camera guy is not happy about that, but you can see the headquarter of the Kirya just few meters from the biggest hospital in Tel Aviv, Ichilov. You can see all of them just behind me, just in this frame. Just next to it, you have the biggest tower in this side of Tel Aviv. It’s the HaShalom Towers, the Peace Tower. And I think, in some symbolic way, it tells the whole thing. We are here talking about how the Hamas surround themselves with children, using them as a shield. By now, it’s 160 children dead and around 730, 740 people, most of them civilians. And Israel is still using this argument that the Hamas surround themselves with children. And I want you just to look at this picture and tell me what you think. You can really see the tower with the antennas. This is the headquarter of the Kirya, the headquarter of the army, the Israeli army that is controlling Gaza, controlling the air, the sea, the area in the West Bank, in everywhere. And just few meters from there, you have Ichilov and you have basically the city center of Tel Aviv. So, I think it’s very important, especially for liberal Jews that are now protecting and helping Israeli propaganda machine.

Regarding where I am after 10, 11 years after refusing, I feel that it’s like the situation that you feel that you are walking on a path, and slowly everyone else, or almost everyone else, are disappearing far, far to the right of you. Today we are a minority of a minority of activists in Israel. Of course there are more and more people, but we are still a very, very small minority. We have people that are going to jail. I have a friend who is going to jail on Monday for refusing to enlist with the army. There are now a few people in jail.

But overall, overall, there is a disease in my country, and the disease is spreading very fast, and it’s called fascism and racism. Fascism and racism is now the biggest threat of the Jewish people in the Middle East. And I can just cry and shout and ask everyone that hear us now to join the BDS movement, to join the boycott, divestment and sanction movement, and to try to put enormous pressure on your leaders, wherever they are, that they, in turn, will help us here stop this massacre, stop this ongoing slaughter of innocent people. I have friends in Gaza now that yesterday called and told us that their house in Shejaiya was leveled. Now the only thing they have is the cellphone, and a family of nine people are hiding in the Shifa Hospital. This is a war crime. This is an ongoing slaughter of innocent people. And that’s the discussion. That’s what we have to talk about, how to stop it.

AMY GOODMAN: Let me, Yonatan—

YONATAN SHAPIRA: I am getting very emotional, because I can even feel how—yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: Yonatan Shapira in Tel Aviv, when you resisted in 2003, refused as an Air Force pilot, as a captain, to attack Palestinians, what were the consequences of that move? You’re part of the elite group of Air Force pilots, your family; you come from a family of pilots.

YONATAN SHAPIRA: Well, first, luckily, I was flying rescue helicopters, and I flew soldiers, but I felt that my responsibility is nevertheless as big as the pilots who are attacking and throwing those bombs. The reaction was that, of course, the military dismissed us and, of course, said that it’s wrong, but we had about one-fifth of the Israeli society, in a poll that was conducted by the Israeli National Radio, supporting our initiative. One-fifth, in those days, mean one million Israelis were sympathetic to the concern that we raised about the morality of these actions.

I think the interesting thing about what happen now is what you hear is all the time how amazing and morally we act. Yesterday I listened to the army news, and the discussion was how pilots and soldiers are complaining that there are so many limitations they have to abide and follow because of the threat of harming civilians. So the whole discourse is how good we are and how we are willing to sacrifice and endanger ourself in order to be careful and not to kill civilians while doing this crazy massacre that, by the way, is much, much more intense. If you look at the mass of casualties and dead people in those days, it’s much faster than even in Cast Lead.

What the army actually did with us is, after 10 days that we got time to think about it and to meet our immediate commanders in the bases, we were invited to an interview with the commander of the army, and then if we said that we are not withdrawing our signature, we do not regret, we were dismissed from the Air Force. And we got a letter of dismissal saying that—like, the first thing they mentioned in this like sort of legal letter was that we filmed ourself and we interviewed with a uniform without permission. They had really difficult time to bring us to court, for example, because—and we actually wanted that. I sat in front of the commander of the Air Force, and I said, "Well, I feel totally complete and whole with everything that we did, and I’m happy to be even sent to jail if you can prove and show in court that we refused legal orders. We think that all these orders are illegal and immoral. And even by the laws of the Israeli army, you must disobey to an order that is illegal, immoral and is going to harm civilian and innocent people." Of course, the army, the Air Force chose not to open any court case against us, because it would just serve us and give us a platform to raise more and more of these issues within the public, the Israeli public, debate.

AMY GOODMAN: And finally, you, Yonatan, you are right there in Tel Aviv. This issue of the siege, that I asked Yael about, for an American audience, it is not explained very much what it means for Gaza to be under siege for these years. Can you explain technically what that means?

YONATAN SHAPIRA: Technically, Gaza is the biggest open-air prison. People inside cannot go in and out. They can find their way through tunnels sometime, but most of the population is locked there as prisoners. Israel control the air. Israel control the sea and the land. And the little strip that Egypt controls is basically coordinated with Israel and the United States to keep this a cage with those 1.8 million people. I, myself, tried, with different groups and a flotilla, to sail to Gaza and to break symbolically the blockade, but we were stopped by the Israeli occupation forces, claiming that we are dangerous because maybe we are bringing a weapon. So, just it’s so ridiculous to see now. You know, they stopped us from bringing the weapon, and I don’t think that Hamas had any problem to bring a weapon in. Maybe even in some paradoxical way it helps Netanyahu and his guys, these missiles, because I’m here in Tel Aviv, and I have a 10-month-old baby, and I have to hug her and go to the shelter when the missiles are falling, but it’s really nothing compared to what people in Gaza are experiencing. And I have family in Sderot, next to Gaza, and I have even relatives who are in Gaza as soldiers.

And I think that if I have to give one allegory to this whole thing, and this need of Israel and me, myself, of self-protection—legitimate thing, by the way; I want to be safe, I don’t want anyone to bomb me and to kill me and my baby—I would imagine it as gang rape. And forgive me for using this hard language, but when you have a group of people raping someone, and this person that is being raped starting to scratch, the first thing you want to do in order to stop the scratches is to stop the rape. And what Israel, official Israel, is trying to do is to continue the rape and deal with the scratches. And I say, stop the rape, stop the occupation, stop the apartheid, stop this inhumane ghettoization of Palestinians, and then—then—we can start talking, and we can reach peace agreements and all these beautiful words that now don’t mean anything for us.

51 Comments

51 Comments


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[-] 3 points by beautifulworld (22801) 3 years ago

"Technically, Gaza is the biggest open-air prison. People inside cannot go in and out. They can find their way through tunnels sometime, but most of the population is locked there as prisoners. Israel control the air. Israel control the sea and the land. And the little strip that Egypt controls is basically coordinated with Israel and the United States to keep this a cage with those 1.8 million people."

"But overall, overall, there is a disease in my country, and the disease is spreading very fast, and it’s called fascism and racism. Fascism and racism is now the biggest threat of the Jewish people in the Middle East. And I can just cry and shout and ask everyone that hear us now to join the BDS movement, to join the boycott, divestment and sanction movement, and to try to put enormous pressure on your leaders, wherever they are, that they, in turn, will help us here stop this massacre, stop this ongoing slaughter of innocent people. I have friends in Gaza now that yesterday called and told us that their house in Shejaiya was leveled. Now the only thing they have is the cellphone, and a family of nine people are hiding in the Shifa Hospital. This is a war crime. This is an ongoing slaughter of innocent people. And that’s the discussion. That’s what we have to talk about, how to stop it."

"And I say, stop the rape, stop the occupation, stop the apartheid, stop this inhumane ghettoization of Palestinians, and then—then—we can start talking, and we can reach peace agreements and all these beautiful words that now don’t mean anything for us." Yonatan Shapira

Great post. Thank you.

[-] 1 points by flip (7101) 3 years ago

Always like your thumbs up beauty. Too many here send me very stupid responses. I can deal with intelligent disagreement but stupidity at ows disturbs me! Thanks

[-] 2 points by turbocharger (1756) 3 years ago

In terms of Russia, the old goats of the USA usually gobble up whatever their masters tell them, so linking things is usually not their mo.

With this: https://occupywallst.org/forum/brics-nations-prepare-world-banking-revolution/

Its pretty incredible that after all the Ukraine fighting, on the day that they announce a new world bank, that this plane gets shot down by a rebel who decided to use this incredible piece of equipment on a passing airliner instead of the ones they are fighting.

Zany, wild stuff.

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[-] 4 points by flip (7101) 3 years ago

the funny thing is you were one of those i was thinking of when i mentioned intelligent disagreement - and this is just more evidence. we should stop zen. i know it makes you feel better to rant like this but i don't like it. not sure why you are allowed to do what you do but i am done

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[-] 3 points by flip (7101) 3 years ago

done with you only. glad to hear that i can continue to make you crazy by posting - the truth.

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[-] 3 points by flip (7101) 3 years ago

you seem annoyed - thanks for keeping the refusenik at the top

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[-] 0 points by flip (7101) 3 years ago

yes unrepentant!

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[-] 2 points by flip (7101) 3 years ago

don't get it - would you like me to comment - on what?

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[-] -1 points by freakzilla (-161) from Detroit, MI 3 years ago

Speaking of ignoring, you never did comment on Michigan Democrat Gloria Platko And now this

http://www.mlive.com/news/saginaw/index.ssf/2013/12/petition_to_recall_buena_vista.html

I bet those involved were all Democrats protecting their own. Fucking Democrats are only out to protect their own best interests. And they're all racists. If you hate racism, you have to hate Democrats. Especially racist Michigan Democrats. I hate racist Michigan Democrats. Why you voted for Platko is beyond me.

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[-] 0 points by DKAtoday (33308) from Coon Rapids, MN 3 years ago

"Technically, Gaza is the biggest open-air prison. People inside cannot go in and out.

BULLSHIT - arms make their way in - then people should be able to make their way in and out - if only through the same paths as the arms - same goes for commerce that wants in or out. If Israel had the total control over the area that you attribute to them - then there would be no missiles being launched from Gaza into Israel.

DO try to be a little more complete/honest in your observations - Hey?

[-] 2 points by beautifulworld (22801) 3 years ago

I didn't say it. Yanatan Shapira living in Israel said it. Do you not see the quotes? Quit making false accusations about what I say and quit trying to bully me.

Just because components for rockets are smuggled in and components are built from inside Gaza does not mean that people can go in and out. Get your facts and observations straight!

[-] 0 points by DKAtoday (33308) from Coon Rapids, MN 3 years ago

How is calling bullshit to a statement posted by you but attributed to another in any way shape or form bullying? Bullshit is plain and simply bullshit - you can take it personally if you want - as you did post the bullshit.

[-] 3 points by beautifulworld (22801) 3 years ago

I think your positions are bull shit. So, we're even.

[-] 0 points by DKAtoday (33308) from Coon Rapids, MN 3 years ago

Surprise. NOT - in this issue you have no impartiality to weigh the crimes committed by both sides. For whatever reason you have picked GAZA/Palestine ( an effort in trying to become recognized as a legitimate state ) as being completely blameless for the situation in which they find themselves.

Query - where is all of the support for Palestine to be recognized as a sovereign state? Surely all those countries in the area supplying them arms "must" be very out spoken in their support for the recognition of Palestine as a sovereign state. Where are they in opening peaceful avenues of commerce? HMMMMMMM? WHERE?????

[-] 1 points by turbocharger (1756) 3 years ago

Right, because clearly the CIA/IDF couldnt possibly get arms into a blockaded war zone.

You are giving TPTB way too little credit in being able to control the population.

[-] -3 points by DKAtoday (33308) from Coon Rapids, MN 3 years ago

OH SHUT UP YOU STUPID MORON - go chase your idiotic tail somewhere else.

[-] 2 points by turbocharger (1756) 3 years ago

Ya, that scenario is definitely wayyyyyy too impossible to consider.

Come on man, since when do you doubt the maniacal intentions of the TPTB?

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[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33308) from Coon Rapids, MN 3 years ago

A perfectly legitimate use for tunnels under the hospitals and such places ( all of Gaza ) would be for use as bomb shelters for the civilian population - but that is not what they are being used for ( note civilian deaths when they know a retaliatory strike is on the way ) - at least not ALL that they may be being used for.

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[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33308) from Coon Rapids, MN 3 years ago

Imagine that - some one who does not approve of Hamas - some one from the region - why that's that's just so hard to imagine - I am flabbergasted by the revelation - just flabbergasted I say.

[-] 2 points by turbocharger (1756) 3 years ago

Well seems how Sadat;s daughter thinks the CIA and Mubarak are the ones that killed her Dad, lets not get too behind what the US gov is telling us about Egypt support.

Yes, its really that easy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19gnXkzPwcI

[-] 2 points by DKAtoday (33308) from Coon Rapids, MN 3 years ago

lets not get too behind what the US gov is telling us about Egypt support.

I wasn't - but thanks for the advisory ya rockhead.

[-] -2 points by turbocharger (1756) 3 years ago

Well ya gobble up the "Egypt doesnt support Hamas and sides with Israel" talking point pretty readily, can't blame someone for trying to take your ostrich head out of the ground, right?

[-] 0 points by DKAtoday (33308) from Coon Rapids, MN 3 years ago

Ummmm did you just add that bit about Egypt sides with Israel - from the comment that shooz made about Egypt not liking Hamas? Ummm I don't think that that was in shooz comment ( siding with Israel ) - just that Egypt doe not like Hamas. Do you hear voices as well as see non-existent type? Ya know aural as well as visual hallucinations.

[-] 1 points by turbocharger (1756) 3 years ago

Thats the story thats been playing out.

Again, try to remember the people you are talking about are masters of public opinion.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/07/24/egypt-opposes-hamas-gaza-conflict/13043353/

Don't be upset if I can connect the dots faster than you guys.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33308) from Coon Rapids, MN 3 years ago

Whereas you are obviously not a master of thought - at all.

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[-] 0 points by DKAtoday (33308) from Coon Rapids, MN 3 years ago

And yet and YET all of the arms being smuggled in to them - huh - just boggles the mind - it really does.

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[-] -1 points by DKAtoday (33308) from Coon Rapids, MN 3 years ago

I wonder if they'll try him under the anti-abortion laws?

lol - more likely than for murder or manslaughter - sorry not funny.

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