In a militaristic society, it does not occur to people to ask, ‘How does my country serve me?” or “How can my country serve me?” Rather, it is taken for granted that the country owes nothing to its citizens, who owe it everything. And this is especially true of military service. The article below is not about military service, though the title would seem to suggest differently. But it nevertheless is about ‘serving one’s country.’
There is nothing wrong with ’integrating young people with disabilities into society,’ but why put this in terms of ‘serving one’s country’? We should all want to help one another. That is humane, and as human beings we should desire to practice what is humane. But that is entirely different from ‘serving one’s country’—which indeed smacks of militarism, patriotism, nationalism. But that is part of the normal brain-washing in militaristic societies as Israel’s.
Following this item are 2 more. One relates how 2 activists—Yonathan Shapira and
Ewa Jasiewicz decorated the ghetto wall in the old Jewish Quarter of Warsaw, The final one is a petition. I signed and hope that you will, too. But even if you don’t, you will have probably learned more than you knew before you read it.
All the best,
Jerusalem Post Sunday, July 04, 2010
Disabled youth hope to serve in the IDF
By SAM CROSS
Conference on integrating handicapped into IDF.
Integrating young people with disabilities into society was the subject of an annual conference devoted to social justice, held this week by Bema’aglei Tzedek, Bet Ami, and Gvanim.
High on the program’s agenda was the right of handicapped youth, who generally can’t serve in the army, to serve their country in other, formally recognized ways.
“My service was the best two years of my life,” said Amit Samesh, 24, who worked with kids with special needs as part of her national service.
“I want every person to have the option of serving their country in the way they can.”
The conference has become a tradition for Bema’aglei Tzedek, whose mission is to empower young Israelis to build a brighter future for the country.
“We have made this day a time when people from different backgrounds come together to found a more just Israel,” said Dyonna Ginsburg, the group’s executive direct.
Hundreds of Israelis from all parts of society came to the Jerusalem International Convention Center Tuesday evening to think critically about the handicapped community.
Speakers included Education Committee Chairman MK Zevulun Orlev, and Rabbi Dr. Benny Lau, director of the Center for Judaism and Society as well as the Institute for Social Justice at Beit Morasha.
“I will not rest until the law that grants every young person the right to serve passes,” Orlev told the audience.
Bema’aglei Tzedek maintains a unique commitment to action, according to Ginsburg. Two concrete action items – a petition that asks the Treasury to fund more civilian service opportunities for people with disabilities and a take-home guide – provided conference participants not just with talk, but with substance.
“We want each person to apply the lessons that learned here at home,” Ginsburg said.
For Edward Omansky, 21, who works at a youth center in Ashdod, his civilian service has given him a greater perspective on his role as citizen.
Two years after he left the army for medical reasons, he says that he has his national service to thank for his rehabilitation.
“I can see the fruits of my labor when these kids thank me and love me and give me warmth,” Omansky said.
Becky Seidman, who has spina bifada, works for the city of Netivot, helping young people find employment or educational programs. She says she does not regret her decision one bit.
“I chose to do something more, and I love it,” Seidman said.
Forwarded by the JPLO List
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Monday 28th 2010
Yesterday, Israeli and Polish activists met in the ruins of Warsaw’s old Jewish Ghetto.
The activists sprayed ‘Liberate All Ghettos’ in Hebrew, followed by ‘Free Gaza and Palestine’ in English on a wall of an original block in the ghetto. The block is across the street from the last fragment of the remaining perimeter wall of the Ghetto. They also hung Palestinian flags from the wall.
This was first time such an action took place in the ghetto.
Yonatan Shapira former Israeli Air Force captain and now refusnik and BDS activist said:
‘Most of my family came from Poland and many of my relatives were killed in the death camps during the Holocaust. When I walk in what was left from the Warsaw Ghetto I can’t stop thinking about the people of Gaza who are not only locked in an open air prison but are also being bombarded by fighter jets, attack helicopters and drones, flown by people whom I used to serve with before my refusal in 2003.
I am also thinking about the delegations of young Israelis that are coming to see the history of our people but also are subjected to militaristic and nationalistic brainwashing on a daily basis. Maybe if they see what we wrote here today they will remember that oppression is oppression, occupation is occupation, and crimes against humanity are crimes against humanity, whether they have been committed here in Warsaw or in Gaza’.
Ewa Jasiewicz, activist with Kampania Palestyna and one of the co-ordinators of the Free Gaza Movement who just returned from participating in the Freedom Flotilla said:
`Yonatan could have been the pilot in the Blackhawk that dropped commandos onto the Mavi Marmara that killed nine activists from our flotilla. I could have been one of them. Poland is full of the ruins of ghettos and death camps and shrines to those who sacrificed their lives in the defence of not just their communities but in resistance to fascism.
People here need to wake up and realise that occupations and ghettos did not end with the end of the second world war. These tactics and strategies of domination and control of other people and lands are present in Palestine today and are being perpetrated by the state of Israel. We have a responsibility to free all ghettos and end all occupations’.
Poland continues to deepen its’ military and political alliance with Israel whilst ignoring its obligations under international law to stop the ghettoization of the West Bank by Israel’s apartheid wall and to ensure the protection of civilians.
Kampania Palestyna together with the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, calls for an end to Israeli impunity and degradation of human rights and international law.
Ewa Jasiewicz said, ‘Poland can no longer be a Greenzone for the normalisation of Israeli apartheid. We all have the responsibility to end the occupation and ghettoization of the Palestinian people’.
Yonatan Shapira said: ‘I was always taught growing up that the atrocities that happened to the Jewish people here happened because the world was silent. And therefore I cannot be silent. The Jewish people needed to be liberated from the ghettoes, and now Israelis need to be liberated from the crimes of their own government. Each one of us can take part in this global struggle for justice, and support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement for the sake of not just the Palestinian people but for Israelis too’.
From: Jewish Peace News <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sat, Jul 3, 2010 at 7:55 PM
Many of us who work in academics, health care, or non-profit organizations have our retirement funds invested with the giant financial services company, TIAA-CREF. TIAA-CREF has investments in corporations that profit from the Israeli occupation, corporations such as Caterpillar and Motorola. A Jewish Voice for Peace is campaigning to get TIAA-CREF to divest its holdings from such corporations (see text of petition below).
TIAA-CREF has been peddling a double line for some time. On the one hand, it affirms that its responsibility is to invest in a diversity of corporations in order to earn a “competitive financial return on the retirement savings” of its investors (see its reply to the JVP petition, printed below). At the same time, its corporate slogan is “Financial Services for the Greater Good”, and its Policy Statement on Corporate Governance affirms social values and a commitment to use investment as a tool to promote positive social change.
(see: http://www.csrwire.com/press/press_release/19925-TIAA-CREF-Says-One-Thing-and-Does-Another-Corporate-Social-Responsibility-Leader-Falls-Short ) Moreover, intensive divestment campaigns have succeeded in getting TIAA-CREF to divest from World Bank bonds and, most recently, from “certain companies with ties to Sudan.”
In view of this, it is particularly incumbent on those of us who are invested in TIAA-CREF to let them know that we do not want our rates of return maximized at the cost of human rights abuses and violations of international law. And even if TIAA-CREF is only interested in cost-benefit analyses, the persistent struggles of the Palestinian people and Israeli and international peace activists may ultimately affect the bottom line of unethical companies like Caterpillar (as was the case in South Africa). Please click on the link below to take action.
We are participants and investors in TIAA-CREF funds who are deeply concerned that TIAA-CREF invests in many companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Some of these companies provide weapons and covert surveillance supplies that maintain the occupation by force. Others take or exploit Palestinian resources, including scarce water and even the land itself. All are profiting from Israel’s violations of international law and international human rights standards.
CATERPILLAR profits from the destruction of Palestinian homes and the uprooting of Palestinian orchards by supplying the armor-plated and weaponized bulldozers that are used for such demolition work.
VEOLIA profits from the construction and expansion of illegal Jewish-only settlements by operating a landfill in the West Bank, exploiting Palestinian natural resources to serve the settlements, and by contracting for the future operation of an illegal light rail system connecting these settlements with Jerusalem.
NORTHROP GRUMMAN profits from the production of parts for the Apache helicopters and F-16 aircrafts used by Israel against civilians in Gaza during Israel’s 2008-09 assault.
ELBIT profits from the confiscation of Palestinian land by providing surveillance equipment that is mounted on the Separation Wall, which was declared unlawful by the International Court of Justice.
MOTOROLA profits from Israel’s control of the Palestinian population by providing surveillance systems around Israeli settlements, checkpoints, and military camps in the West Bank, as well as communication systems to the Israeli army and West Bank settlers.
While the specific companies held change over time, TIAA-CREF’s investment criteria do not screen out such investments, which are incompatible with our values and with corporate social responsibility.
Out of commitment to equality, freedom and international law, we therefore urgently request that:
TIAA-CREF divest from companies that:
Directly profit from or contribute to the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
Provide products or services that contribute to the construction and maintenance of Israeli settlements and/or the Separation Wall, both of which are illegal under international law.
Provide products or services that contribute to or enable violent acts that target civilians.
TIAA-CREF establish investment criteria to exclude any such companies in the future.
For almost 100 years, TIAA-CREF has striven to provide financial services for the greater good, helping those of us in the academic, medical, cultural, and research fields to plan for and live in retirement. Please help us invest the fruit of our labor and enjoy our retirement in good conscience.
TIAA-CREF’s “Statement on request by Jewish Voice for Peace”
June 24, 2010
While TIAA-CREF acknowledges participants’ varying views on Israeli and Palestinian policies and the Gaza Strip and West Bank, we are unable to alter our investment policy in accordance with those views. Our responsibility to earn a competitive financial return on the retirement savings entrusted to us by 3.7 million participants obliges us to invest in a diverse line-up of companies across all sectors of the global economy.
* * *
Questions & Answers
Why not divest from such companies as Caterpillar, Northrop Grumman, and Motorola?
Our responsibility to earn a competitive financial return on the retirement savings entrusted to us obliges us to invest in a diverse line-up of companies across all sectors of the global economy. The holdings at issue comply fully with U.S. law.
Last year you divested from companies with ties to Sudan. How similar is the situation in the Gaza Strip and West Bank?
Our decision to sell shares in certain companies with ties to Sudan culminated a three-year effort to encourage them to take affirmative steps to ease human rights abuses and end genocide in the region in which they operate.
Our divestment action was consistent with U.S. foreign policy, as enshrined in the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act of 2007, which made it easier for mutual funds and private pension fund managers to sell their investments in companies with ties to the Sudanese government.
We believe that concerns about the situation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are best addressed by U.S. foreign policy and lend themselves less to using one’s shareholder status to influence portfolio companies.
For more on our divestment from Sudan, click here;
Click here (PDF) more on our engagement policy and practices;
Read more on socially responsible investing (PDF) at TIAA-CREF.
TIAA-CREF Individual & Institutional Services, LLC and Teachers Personal Investors Services, Inc., members FINRA, distribute securities products.
Jewish Peace News editors:
Sarah Anne Minkin
Lincoln Z. Shlensky
Jewish Peace News archive and blog: http://jewishpeacenews.blogspot.com
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