Dov Yirmiya - Open letter to Defence Minister

Below is an English translation of an open letter by the 94 year old peace activist, Dov Yirmiya, an ex-colonel in the Israeli army, which was published on June 11 in Zo Haderekh, the Communist weekly. Yirmiya's book "My War Diary" (1983) played an important role in mobilizing Israeli public opinion against the First Lebanese War. In 1983 he was awarded the Emil Grunzweig Human Rights Award for his "activities promoting the welfare of civilians in Lebanon".

I am returning your invitation

An open letter to the Minister of Defence

I have received your elegant invitation to veterans of the 1948 war, on the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel, under the slogan: "The State of Israel expresses its thanks to you."

As a veteran of the 1948 war, who was already wounded in face to face combat two weeks before the Declaration of the State, I feel obliged herewith to return the invitation to you, as Minister of Defence. I do so regretfully but see this as my duty.

I consider you, Ehud Barak, as one of the top military commanders and prominent political leaders who were responsible for converting the army from "the Israeli Defence Force" to an army of occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people and defender of the criminal settlements in their country.

40 years of occupation have utterly corrupted the Israeli army and all strata of Israeli society.They are both characterized by the nationalist 'east wind' [the east wind brings the chamsin and locusts - C.A.] which blows and kindles conflagrations of endless wars, which threaten our people and land with the third and final destruction. Your share in the responsibility for all this is enormous, and therefore I return your invitation to you, without thanks...

Dov Yirmiya, Naharia

P.S. I sent this letter to Haaretz, but it was not printed...[D.Y.]