Personal stories Assaf Yacobovitz

    Assaf Yacobovitz


    Assaf (today 39 years old), a clinical therapist, was born and raised, and still lives, in Tel-Aviv.

    His parents grew up in Tel Aviv as well, after their parents fled Poland during WWII. The son of a well educated, middle-class family in a big city and a Sea Scout, Assaf was raised on the ideals of community involvement, good citizenship and self-fulfilment.

    His mother was a peace activist in the 1980’s and the dominant political atmosphere and affiliation at home was left-wing. Assaf joined the Israeli Air Force as a cadet in the mid-1990’s, during a bloody stage of terror attacks — some of them in his hometown, Tel Aviv — that came after the Oslo Accords were signed. A few months after he was conscripted, Yitzhak Rabin was murdered. A year later, Assaf was dismissed from the course and was transferred to an IAF control officer course, after which he served for 4 years, two of them as a career officer, and was discharged as a captain. During his service Assaf manned several positions as an instructor and a commander on the course,  amongst other roles in the AF control officer command.

    Assaf served in active reserve duty until the first campaign in Gaza, Operation Cast Lead in the Winter of 2008/9. That was the first time he found himself facing the dilemma of whether or not  to refuse an order, but decided it is not right to refuse when his country needed him. On the first day of the campaign, after a massive IAF flyover — controlled by his unit — that ended in horrendous sights of death, Assaf felt he could no longer act and serve wholeheartedly as a soldier in the military confrontation, with the tragedy of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Since then, Assaf has not served  in the same unit again, and his willingness to deal with the conflict in another way has only grown.

    in the Spring of 2010, Assaf attended Combatants for Peace’s alternative memorial service, which left a deep impression on him. In previous years he had taken part in demonstrations against the Occupation in Bil’in, Sheikh Jarrah and inside Israel, but that ceremony was the first time he felt the presence of Israeli-Palestinian collaboration, based on personal connections and multi-regional ongoing activities, challenging the zionist ethos of ‘forever we shall live by the sword’, and comes from a belief in the possibility of breaking the cycle of bloody violence. Assaf joined CfP and is still active in the movement’s ranks, serving in different positions, including Regional Activity Coordinator and as the Israeli General Activity Coordinator.