From April 16th-May 2nd, 2016, two individuals who have refused service in the Israeli military, Khaled Farrag and Yasmin Yablonko, will tour the eastern United States. Refuser Solidarity Network and American Friends Service Committee are organizing the tour. Khaled works with Urfud, an organization that provides support to Druze refusers, and Yasmin is active in the Jewish Israeli community. In addition to discussing his reasons for refusing military service, Khaled will talk about Druze history and discuss the ways internal Israeli politics impact his community. Yasmin will talk about the refusal movement in Israel both past and present, and about the effects of militarism and mandatory military service on Israeli society. Yasmin will also discuss her work with Mesarvot, a newly founded coalition of refuser groups supported by both AFSC and Refuser Solidarity Network. Sahar Vardi, AFSC’s Israel Program Coordinator, will accompany them throughout the tour.
Yasmin Yablonko is a 23-year-old Israeli conscientious Objector from Jaffa. Today she is the coordinator of Mesarvot, a newly established network of Israeli organizations supporting refusal and opposing the occupation. The network helps elevate the voices of young people refusing military service, offering them capacity building, assisting with media work and helping them organize. Yasmin currently studies Humanities and Arts in the Tel Aviv University.
Khaled Farrag is a 34-year-old Palestinian Druze contentious objector from Rama village in the Upper Galilee. In 1999, after moving to Jerusalem, Khaled refused to serve in the army and was sentenced to two months in military prison. Khaled was one of the founders of Urfod, a movement that calls for ending compulsory military service imposed on Druze men at the age of 18, and reconnecting Druze with their Palestinian and Arab identity as it was throughout the history. Khaled studied law at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, established and runs a preparatory school for university admission in East Jerusalem and co-found Grassroots Jerusalem, a Palestinian NGO working on empowering communities in East Jerusalem.