Gung: "they could put them on one of our own Pacific island possessions. Rendova would be one possibility, only two small settled areas which they could wall off with some sort of an electrified fence to protect those people ..."
Isn't this ironic, people from the world's top country of war criminals and terrorists talking about committing, AGAIN, genocide.
It's a good thing that there still are some moral people in this sad world.
I Was “Part of a Terror Organization,” Says Israeli Pilot Turned Activist
Yonatan Shapira was born on an Israeli military base the year before his father flew fighter jets in the October War of 1973. Thirty years later, twelve of them spent as an air force pilot himself, Shapira rejected the military. In 2003, he wrote a letter, pledging not to fly over the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Shapira is among the few Israelis to have declared support for the Palestinian-led call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. He has also been attacked by the Israeli military for attempting to sail towards and break the siege of Gaza.
He recently spoke to The Electronic Intifada contributor Ryan Rodrick Beiler.
Ryan Rodrick Beiler: What was it like growing up in a military family?
Yonatan Shapira: The education I got was very much about peace, equality, freedom and a lot of socialist values — caring about the other, caring about the poor — but at the same time with a big wall of negligence of Palestine. The same time I was in class learning these beautiful values, the Israeli army was engaged in occupation, land grabs, settlements, massacres, deportation of Palestinian activists.
But I didn’t know these things. I truly believed that I should defend my country. I wanted to be like my father. I wanted to be a pilot in the air force and it was my dream come true when I was accepted. I became a helicopter pilot and flew rescue missions and commando transport.
RRB: When did you begin to question the military’s actions?
YS: I realized something was rotten when the Israeli government started what was called the “assassination policy” in 2001-2003. Palestinian resistance failed to bring liberation and more extreme attitudes took place, such as suicide bombings and other [forms of] armed struggle. The government thought to assassinate everyone that has to do with armed resistance.
Pilots would be sent with missiles to shoot the car of this person. In the beginning, this car could be driving outside of town where just the car was hit. Later they would allow shooting suspects when they are closer to the city. Eventually the assassination would be even if he’s in the middle of the market, or in his house at night with all of the family around.
In July 2002, Salah Shehadeh, head of the armed branch of Hamas in Gaza, was bombed in the middle of the night with an F-16 dropping a one-ton bomb on his house where he was sleeping with his children and his wife. The bomb killed fifteen people, most of them children, and about 150 were injured. If I needed some answer for my questions and doubts, that was clear: this is a terror attack. And I’m part of a terror organization.
The commander of the air force said that everything was done perfectly, and the pilots should sleep well at night. That was an additional thing that helped us: when someone says you can sleep well at night, maybe it’s time to wake up and start to think. For me and several friends, that was the moment we decided to do something.
RRB: When you and 26 others published “The Pilots’ Letter” condemning Israel’s attacks on civilians, how did going public change you?
YS: It was like a birth for us. We ended one chapter in our lives and became, in our view, peace activists, human rights activists, freedom activists. In the eyes of many in our society we became traitors.
We were not the first Israeli soldiers to act upon their belief. In 1982 there were many who refused to participate in the war in Lebanon and were sent to jail. Another group in 2002 were willing to go to jail instead of doing reserve duty in the West Bank and Gaza.
More recently, 43 soldiers from the elite intelligence unit called 8200 declared they are not willing to participate in these criminal actions. We have high school seniors who decide they cannot join the Israeli army because it’s engaged in terrorism against civilians. We now have some people in jail, spending usually between half a year and a year.
It takes a lot of courage to do something like that when you’re eighteen years old. I didn’t have this courage. I didn’t have this information. I didn’t have this realization. It took me twelve years in the air force to realize I’m not fighting for the right side.
RRB: If you were not fighting for the right side, as you say, how did you change that?
YS: It’s not enough just to not be part of something you believe is wrong. Now you have to make another step and become part of the solution.
We thought the next step would be to meet with Palestinian ex-fighters and to find common ground. In 2005-2006 we started an organization called Combatants for Peace. It was one of the most significant experiments I ever had in my life. To step into a room with people who before you were fearing to death — they were supposed to kill you and you were supposed to kill them. Suddenly you sit in a room and you talk about your story and about your family and friends. When you leave this room you are a different person. The “we” and “them” that you had before cannot exist anymore. We realized that we are actually much more similar than different.
It was a very important thing for us, for the Palestinians and for the Israelis. But later, nevertheless, I realized that the framework was problematic because it’s not a conflict of equal parties. It’s not that you have two countries fighting each other. It’s a colonial struggle — colonizer and colonized. So there is a conceptual problem when you come to create something that is based on equal power balance, which it’s totally not.