VIA| This talk by Eran Efrati was filmed in Denver, Colorado on March 3, 2014 as part of The Soldier and the Refusenik U.S. tour with Maya Wind. Eran discusses his experiences in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and then more broadly discusses Israel, its relationship to the U.S. and the global expansion of militarism.
Eran Efrati, 28, was born and raised in Jerusalem. After graduating high school he enlisted in the IDF, where he served as a combat soldier and company sergeant in Battalion 50 of the Nachal Division. He spent most of his service in Hebron and throughout the West Bank.
In 2009, he was discharged and joined Breaking the Silence, an organization of veteran Israeli soldiers working to raise awareness about the daily reality in the Occupied Territories. He worked as the chief investigator of the organization, collecting testimonies from IDF soldiers about their activities. He also guided political tours and to the West Bank and worked to educate Israeli youth about the reality of being a soldier in an occupying army. His collected testimonies appear in the booklet “Operation Cast Lead” and their most recent release “Our Harsh Logic”.
Since leaving Breaking the Silence, his investigative reports appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Guardian. Today he is active with the Israeli groups Anarchists Against the Wall and Boycott from Within.
KEY POINTS FROM THIS LECTURE
There is a heavy indoctrination in Israel, from an early age in schools, which uses the holocaust to create paranoia and fear against ‘the enemy’
Israeli soldiers are trained intensively for a war, whilst their actual military duties are to subdue and control Palestinians
Israeli soldiers routinely humiliate, intimidate, arrest, beat and kill civilian Palestinians to ‘protect’ illegal Jewish settlers in occupied territories
Many Israeli soldiers are aware what they are doing is wrong, but have no way out and feel pressured to continue
Palestinians who require medical attention, have to go through military checkpoints – to do this they require permits
- They give these permits to lawyers of ‘Doctors without borders’ and then prevent them from going to the West Bank – meaning Palestinians do not receive permits
- Israel uses a clever process to cover itself legally to the world
During Operation Cast Lead, Israeli soldiers were traumatised and confused the atrocities they saw in Gaza
- Israel would bomb civilian areas to clear the way for Israeli ground forces, use tank shells, air-strikes and illegal white phosphorus
When wanting to speak out, via the ‘Breaking the Silence Campaign‘ the Haaretz newspaper refused to publish soldier testimonies after pressure by IDF Spokesman
- Breaking the Silence campaign itself was censored by the IDF Spokesman
- All media in Israel has to go through the IDF censorship
The Israeli government and military make a lot of money by selling its weapons to other repressive regimes around the world
Israel tries and tests its weapons on Palestinians – ‘this is not (just) an occupation’ this is a laboratory for Israeli military weapons
Israel uses undercover units in the occupied territories to start riots, and then justify the use of weapons against Palestinian protesters
All police departments in the US are trained by the Israeli military and are taught the same brutal tactics used against Palestinians
US police departments have already used such tactics in suppressing protests in the US, such as the Occupy movement
Hit Israel where it hurts the most, boycott Israel
“Everybody knows, the apartheid regime will stop. The question is how fast, and how many people are going to die… until it will happen?” – Eran Efrati, Ex-Israeli Occupation Soldier