Each month, we will feature a different WRI affiliate. This month it's New Profile, our affiliate in Israel.
New Profile was established in 1998 as a feminist movement promoting peace, non-violence and a just and democratic society, by countering militarism in Israel. We believe that militarism, which is deeply rooted in Israel, makes society more violent, sexist and racist, weakens its civil society and democratic values, blocks the path to peace and to ending the occupation, and perpetuates human rights violations. As a feminist organization, we believe that resisting war and militarism is a central aspect of resisting patriarchy.
For almost twenty years, our Counselling Network has been offering assistance to individuals in realizing their right to choose avoiding or discontinuing military service. We do it through a network of coordinators and volunteers who provide free counselling, information and legal aid to applicants, assisting them through the highly complicated exemption process.
In our Community Outreach and Education Programs we have been dealing with the highly militarized education system in Israel: our educational workshops and summer camps have provided more than 1,000 youths with a safe space to engage in critical discourse on the influence of the military on our lives and the values it promotes, and the political and personal implications of resisting conscription. We have been working to raise the awareness of social workers and teachers in schools and centres for at-risk youth to risks that military service pose for these young people; we provide care professionals and educators with knowledge and practical tools through which they can help youth realize their right to exemption while avoiding imprisonment, and find civilian avenues for gaining education and job opportunities. These efforts support youths in counteracting the widespread discrimination against young people exempted from military service. In 2016, we established a forum of teachers who won’t settle for the militarized norms of Israel’s educational system. The forum meets on a monthly basis, discussing feminism, critical education, marginalized populations and militarism in education, sharing experiences, thoughts and ideas on how to demilitarize classrooms.
Together, New Profile's activities challenge the militarization of Israel at crucial points: the conscription system, the militarization of education, the social construct of the military as a “melting pot”, an “equalizer”, and the concomitant perception of resisting militarism as an elitist pursuit. Our work highlights and addresses the connections between militarism and oppression based on gender, ethnicity, class and social status – a crucial intersection of issues which no other organization in Israel addresses.