Assaf is a clinical therapist. He was born, raised and currently resides in Tel-Aviv. His parents grew up in Tel Aviv, 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-fulfillment.
Assaf’s 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, which came shortly after the Oslo Accords were signed.
A few months after he was conscripted, Yitzhak Rabin was murdered. A year later, Assaf was transferred to an Israeli Air Force 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, amongst other roles in the Air Force control officer command.
Assaf served in active reserve duty until the first campaign in Gaza, ‘Operation Cast Lead’ in the winter of 2008/2009. That was the first time he found himself facing the dilemma of whether or not to refuse an order, but at the time decided it was not right to refuse when his country needed him.
On the first day of the campaign, his unit controlled a massive Israeli Air Force flyover, resulting in horrendous death. Assaf felt he could no longer act and serve as a soldier in the military confrontation, not with the whole-scale tragedy his unit had just inflicted. He started to seek out other ways to deal with the conflict.
In the spring of 2010, Assaf attended Combatants for Peace’s alternative memorial service, which left a deep impression. For the first time he saw Israeli-Palestinian collaboration, based on deep personal connection and cooperative struggle. It challenged the Zionist ethos of, “Forever we shall live by the sword,” and opened up a new possibility that the cycle of violence could finally be broken.
In previous years he had taken part in demonstrations against the Occupation in Bil’in, Sheikh Jarrah and inside Israel, but never before did he find the hope that Combatants for Peace inspires. Assaf joined Combatants for Peace and is currently active in the movement, serving as Regional Activity Coordinator and as the Israeli General Activity Coordinator.