Writer and lecturer who co-founded the New Profile movement. New Profile challenges militarism in Israeli society and supports those who resist serving in the military.
Rela Mazali was born in 1948 at Kibbutz Ma’ayan Baruch in the Upper Galilee. Her mother was an American from Kansas City who moved to Israel as a Zionist-Socialist activist eager to build an egalitarian homeland. Rela Mazali spent most of her childhood in Tel Aviv, where she stayed to study philosophy and comparative literature at Tel Aviv University.
Mazali is a writer and author of several books, short stories, academic articles, essays and educational curricula on topics including gender equality, children’s rights, and peace education. She is the mother of two sons and a daughter, a role that strongly encouraged her to get involved in politics.
Mazali is a major figure in the peace movement and the feminist movement in Israel. She co-founded the New Profile movement to de-militarize Israeli civil society in 1998. She has also worked for Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, consulted with the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Ford Foundation, and was one of eight Israeli women nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.
"Personally, I have felt for a long time that Israeli society will finally find its way to end the occupation when the price it's paying really begins to hurt. That is one of the reasons that New Profile welcomes and supports all forms of refusal to serve in the military," wrote Mazali in 2005.
In their work, New Profile raises the question: "Are personal and political security truly achieved through military force?" They sponsor lectures, workshops, press events, educational conferences, and other public activities to bring attention to the ways that Israeli culture portray the use of force as an acceptable, normal means for solving political problems. They have shown how this is done in commonplace ads, children’s literature, school books, magazines, billboards, and other media.
A key area of New Profile’s work is supporting all men and women’s right to resist the draft, conscientious objection, and refuse to serve in the Occupied Territories. Both legal and moral support is offered to conscientious objectors and others questioning military service. New Profile’s also counsels women whose lives have been damaged by militarization, including those sexually harassed in the military.
Mazali’s says that her direct involvement with young Israelis involved in resisting military service sustains her "real sense of energy and hope."
Mazali also frequently takes part in U.S. speaking tours. In the U.S., she highlights the work of New Profile and liaises with communities in the U.S. unfamiliar with the work of the Israeli peace movement. She has traveled with Palestinian women on some of these speaking tours, highlighting the joint efforts needed to end the military occupation.
Mazali also continues to be a voice in Israel bringing attention to conditions in the Palestinian Occupied Territories. At a December 2006 rally in Tel Aviv, organized to highlight the Israeli siege of Gaza, Mazali stated:
"The siege of Gaza is fire in disguise. Its victims aren't counted among Israel's casualties. It creates a dominion of creeping, blind death; it doesn't even pretend to distinguish combatants from civilians. But first of all it kills the helpless. Let's be clear about this: Israel has made Gaza a death compound."
For more information about New Profile please see www.newprofile.org.