The Israeli racial state

Israeli policemen beat and arrest women at a demonstration held by the feminist movement New Profile in support of six activists from the group who were arrested from their homes by the police, 30 April 2009. (Shachaf Polakow/ActiveStills)

Israeli policemen beat and arrest women at a demonstration held by the feminist movement New Profile in support of six activists from the group who were arrested from their homes by the police, 30 April 2009. (Shachaf Polakow/ActiveStills)

Who is next?

On the eve of Israel’s 61th Independence Day last week, the Israeli police arrested six Israeli Jewish feminist political activists, members of New Profile, the Movement for the Civil-isation of Israeli society, including a 70-year-old woman, for assisting young Israelis to evade conscription.

The police entered the activists’ home, confiscated their computers and the computers of their partners, detained them for questioning because of their support for young people who declare themselves conscientious objectors, a status not recognized by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). Indeed, many draft dodgers have served jail sentences.

New Profile is one of the most effective – and entirely law abiding – groups within the Israeli resistance movement, whose members not only resist the occupation of Palestinian lands, but also work for the de-militarisation of Israel, where all high school graduates are conscripted, men for three years and women for two. The movement has actively encouraged young women and men to resist military service.

For some time the police has been tracking the activities reported on the group’s website (

  • www.newprofile.org
  • ) which encourages Israeli youths to refuse conscription. New Profile uses entirely legal means and says that the interrogation violated the freedom of speech.

    I have been following New Profile’s activities for several years and know it as a public and fully legal establishment, whose activities – pastoral, educational and political – are carried out openly and transparently. Contrary to many opposition groups whose focus is resisting the 1967 occupation, or commemorating the 1948 Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe), New Profile operates exclusively within Israeli Jewish society in the full glare of the media.

    I am writing about this police raid precisely because it illustrates the workings of the Israeli racial state which targets not only the Palestinians in the territory Israel occupied in 1967 through a draconian regime of Jewish settlements and checkpoints and the infamous separation wall which prevent the Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem from leading a normal life. Nor does it only target the residents of Gaza, who, months after the murderous invasion, are still waiting for the lifting of the near total siege (did you know, for instance, that Israel is even preventing the importation of – wait for it – pasta, for spurious security reasons?). Nor do Israeli technologies of surveillance and control address only Israel’s Palestinian citizens who in many ways live as second class citizens. The Israeli state is now also targeting its own Israeli Jewish citizens who dare oppose the primacy of the military.

    As New Profile stated: ‘The militarisation of Israeli society harms the sacred principles of democracy, freedom of speech, and political freedom. For people who thought that only Israeli-Arabs were being framed for criminal political activity, this raid was proof that none of us can be sure of the permission to express ourselves freely regarding the failings of Israel’s society and regime’.

    To those who say that this police raid is the result of the new Netanyahu / Lieberman right wing government, I would say that this, rather, is what life in a racial state is about – it begins by targeting the state’s occupied subjects and second class citizens, and goes on to control its own citizens for (legally) opposing its sacred security cows.

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