A peaceful demonstration in front of the military base in Tiberias was organized on Dec. 5, 2013, to support a young Druze named Omar Sa’ad as he was summoned to appear, and shortly thereafter sentenced to 20 days imprisonment, for refusing to join the Israeli army. Members of AFSC’s Israel Program captured these photos during the demonstration.
Israel’s compulsory draft law summons male Druze (a separate religious community that has its roots in Ismailism), to serve in the army for a period of time.
Omar is an 18-year-old Druze, from the village of al-Maghar in Galilee. From the first summons to serve in the army, he expressed his refusal and dissent and wrote a letter addressed to the Israeli prime minister and defense minister, in which he explained:
“I refuse because I am a man of peace, and abhor violence in all its forms and believe that the military establishment is the optimum of physical and psychological violence.
“This year I will graduate from high school and I am hoping to be able to resume my university education. I am sure the military will try to bar me from realizing my humane ambition but I declare it loud and clear: I am Omar Zahreddeen Mohammad Sa’ad and will not be fuel for your arms or a soldier in your army.”
Omar joins a small group of anti-military conscientious objectors in Israel that have been active in their own communities.
AFSC has identified militarization of Israeli society as a key factor fueling the continuing conflict between Palestinians and Israelis, and we strongly believe that systems sustaining a structure of violence need to be transformed. Hence, we support conscientious objectors and those opposing military service, such as Omar, to advocate for alternatives to military service, and to push for an end to occupation and to U.S. military aid to the region.