Jewish Voice for Peace letter from Howard Zinn campaigning for the Shministim
27th November 2008

A special note from our good friend Howard Zinn.

I've been thinking a lot about courage.

Right now, while I'm snug and fed this Thanksgiving holiday in the comfort of my home, halfway around the world a group of teenagers is sitting in a jail cell today, demonstrating the very definition of courage and sacrifice. It's frustrating. Humbling. And I'm damn glad to have the chance to do something big about it.

Send a letter to the
Israeli Minister of Defense now.

I am Raz Bar-David Varon.
I am one of the Shministim.
I need your help.

See that fresh-faced, bold young woman on the right? Her name is Raz Bar-David Varon. She's an 18-year-old Israeli who just graduated from 12th grade. And as I write this, she's sitting in jail in Tel Aviv because she refuses to join the Israeli army.

In my day we called them the "refuseniks" and here in the U.S. they're "conscientious objectors." In Israel, they're still in high school and they are the Shministim. Get used to that word because I'm going to ask you to know it, to say it, to use it. You see, Raz Bar-David Varon and another dozen or so Shministim have asked Jewish Voice for Peace for our help and this is one request we can't refuse.

The Shministim - all about ages 17, 18, 19 and in the 12th grade - are taking a stand. They believe in a better, more peaceful future for themselves and for Israelis and Palestinians, and they are refusing to join the Israeli army. They're in jail, holding strong against immense pressure from family, friends and the Israeli government. They need our support and they need it today.

They have asked people like us to let the Israeli government know we are watching, and that we support their courage. They're hoping to receive hundreds of thousands of postcards to be delivered to the Israeli Minister of Defense on December 18th, when they will hold a huge rally and press conference. They're hoping to stand strong on the steps of this majestic building - and on the steps of history - representing not only the thousands of refusers who came before them, not only the many young people to whom they are an example of a better world, but also to represent us. They have asked you, me, and every person who strives for peace to be on those steps with them, on that day. I will be there. See:

Will you join me? It's simple. Sign a letter now. And don't stop there - ask your loved ones to join you. During this week of giving thanks, signing a letter is the least we can do to give thanks for the courageous among us.

Raz is a Shministit. Raz is Courage. And with our support of her today, you and I are Shministim too.

Thank you - and go sign that letter.

Howard Zinn