Friday, July 21, 2006

Yonatan Shapira, on Democracy Now

Yonatan Shapira, a former Captain in the Israeli Air Force Reserves. In 2003 Yonatan initiated the group of Israeli Air Force pilots who refused to fly attack missions on Palestinian territories. He is also one of the founders of the organization Combatants for Peace.

... JUAN GONZALEZ: What was it that brought you to that conclusion during your time of service? What were the particular incidents or situations that you can confronted that led you to conclude that?

YONATAN SHAPIRA: You know, it’s a long process. And I give lectures here in the United States and in Europe and in Israel, sharing my process of transformation and realizing that in order to contribute to the security of my country and to the security of all the people who live in this region, I must refuse. I can talk to you about that for hours and hours. But if I have to put some particular events, it was the assassination policy that was led by Prime Minister Sharon and the same general who is now the commander of the Army, General Dan Halutz, who was the commander of the Air Force. And they started to use my friends and my fellow pilots in the F-16 pilot squadrons and Apache squadrons, in order to assassinate suspects in Gaza and in the Judean-Samarian Occupied Territories.

And that process brought us to the situation where we finally understood that we are just part of this circle of mutual violence, circle of revenge. And once you understand that you are part of this circle, you understand that there is no much difference between the terror that you are suffering from and the terror that you are involved in. And it’s a very, very hard thing for one to understand and to go through. It involved personal crisis sometimes, and it involved with a lot of things that now connecting to each other, not just in the issues in the Middle East, but all over the world.

But now the idea is we believe that people like us who were part of the Israeli Army, who were part of the core of the Zionist enterprise and still care about their country and their people and love Israel, and I’m talking out of love to my country and my family. I’m going to be back there in a few days. I have friends that are now sitting in shelters and all this kind of stuff. I know the suffering also of my people. But we believe that it’s our obligation now to shout this and to call the world: if you care about my country, if you care about the Israeli people, as well the Palestinian and the Lebanese who are now suffering, you must put massive pressure on the Israeli government, and putting pressure on the Israeli government means putting pressure on your government. ...

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