reminder:Friday, December 13, Shapira will speak at 7 p.m. at Blue Hill Public Library
scroll down for background resourcesIsraeli Refusnik Yonatan Shapira to speak in Blue Hill
BLUE HILL–Yonatan Shapira was an Israeli military pilot who became a refusnik when he signed a letter refusing to continue flying missions over the Palestinian Territories. On Friday, December 13, Shapira will speak at 7 p.m. at Blue Hill Public Library on the need for external and internal pressure to end the occupation of the Palestinian Territories and to bring about a just peace. Shapira’s refusal to fly missions over the Occupied Territories ended an 11-year career as a regular and reservist in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) where he had been a Black Hawk helicopter pilot.
Shapira, a co-founder of Combatants for Peace, an organization of former Israeli and Palestinian soldiers, has since become active in bold efforts to challenge the Occupation. In 2010, Shapira was on board the “Jewish Boat for Peace,” the Irene, destined for Gaza. The Irene was carrying a symbolic amount of medicine, a water purifying kit and toys for the Palestinian people. As reported by the BBC, the Israeli military violently seized the boat, preventing its arrival to a Palestinian port. In 2011, Shapira was a crew member on the Audacity of Hope, another boat prevented from reaching Gaza, with its cargo of letters of support and friendship, and on the Swedish boat the Estelle, in 2012.
Israel blocks exports from Gaza, has imposed a complete naval blockade of the territory, and severely restricts the movement of Palestinians. The Israeli government claims the naval blockade is needed to stop arms smuggling to Hamas, but humanitarian groups, including the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, have outlined how the blockade collectively punishes the territory’s 1.5 million people with unsafe drinking water and prohibitions on certain critical medical supply imports. Refreshments will be served, and all are welcome to attend and discuss future actions. Info: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Related writings and videos 1-Democracy Now! has conducted several interviews with Yonatan Shapira. Here is the link to a couple of them:
June 30, 2011: “Debunking the Israeli-U.S. Effort to Thwart Gaza Freedom Flotilla: ‘We Are Committed to Nonviolence’” http://www.democracynow.org/2011/6/30/debunking_the_israeli_us_effort_to
June 30, 2011: “Exclusive Tour of Gaza-Bound U.S. Ship, Audacity of Hope; Saboteurs Damage Other Ships in Flotilla” http://www.democracynow.org/2011/6/30/exclusive_tour_of_gaza_bound_us
2-in Middle East Monitor: Sept. 27, 2012 “Float On: Gaza and the Estelle Flotilla” by Patrick O. Strickland
read article at: http://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/4509-float-on-gaza-and-the-estelle-flotilla#sthash.x3oczyiQ.dpuf
3-BBC article from Sept. 29, 2010: “Israeli forces ‘Tasered’ activist on Gaza aid boat”
Jewish activists who sought to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza say they were treated harshly when Israeli forces seized their vessel.
Yonatan Shapira, an Israeli air force pilot turned peace activist, said he was shocked with a Taser gun while passively resisting arrest.
And a British journalist said he was “ambushed” and “almost strip-searched” by commandos on board the vessel.
Israel’s military had said the vessel was seized peacefully on Tuesday. It declined to comment on the activists’ accounts.
Earlier this year, Israeli commandos killed nine people in clashes on board a Turkish ship trying to reach Gaza.
Israel says its blockade is designed to prevent weapons being smuggled to the militant Hamas movement which runs the territory.
Yonatan Shapira, a member of left-wing group Combatants for Peace, said he was treated “brutally” by Israeli soldiers when the ship was intercepted some 20 miles (30km) off the coast of Gaza on Tuesday.
“After they boarded, I was standing with my hands around Reuven Moskowitz, the 82-year-old holocaust survivor,” he told BBC News. “We were trying to protect each other and singing: ‘We shall overcome.’
“The Israeli navy captain came closer and pulled out his Taser gun and said: ‘If you don’t let go… it will hurt.’
“We continued to hug and he shot me twice on my right shoulder. It was painful, but not as bad as the third shot.
“He moved the life vest I had on, so he could reach closer to my heart and shot me, which made me lose control of my body. It felt like an epileptic attack or something.
“At that point I couldn’t hold anything and they grabbed me brutally to the boat.”
British photo-journalist Vish Vishvanath confirmed that Mr Shapira had been hit by the stun gun.
After his deportation to London, Mr Vishvanath said he had been “almost strip-searched” by Israeli special forces, who confiscated all his equipment.
“About three commandos ambushed me and took all my camera gear. They confiscated my cell phone because it had a camera on it,” he told the Press Association.
He said the activists put up “a lot of resistance”, but that no violence was used. (To read the rest of the story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-11433836 )
4-A translation of a speech Yonatan Shapira made at the Alternative Independence Day Torch-Lighting Ceremony, April 26, 2004:http://www.16beavergroup.org/mtarchive/archives/000965.php