Assaf Yakobovitz 

Tel Aviv - Yaffo

I am a clinical therapist, born, raised, and still living in Tel-Aviv. My parents also grew
up in Tel Aviv after their parents fled Poland on the brink of WWII. I come from a
well-educated, dominantly left-wing family, and was a Sea Scout in my youth. My
family raised me on the ideals of community involvement, good citizenship and self-
fulfillment.

In the mid-1990’s, I joined the Israeli Air Force as a flight cadet, during a bloody
stage of terror attacks, some of them in my hometown of Tel Aviv, that started after
the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993. A few months after I joined the army,
Yitzhak Rabin was murdered. A year later, I was dismissed from the flight course
and was transferred to an IAF control officer course, after which I acted as an officer
for 4 years.

I served in active reserve duty until the first campaign in Gaza, Operation Cast Lead,
in the winter of 2008-09. That was the first time I found myself facing the dilemma of
whether or not to refuse an order, but decided it was not right to refuse when my
country needed me. On the first day of the campaign, after a massive IAF flyover —
controlled by my unit — that ended in horrendous sights of death, I felt I could no
longer act and serve wholeheartedly as a soldier in the military answer to the tragedy
of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Since then, I have not served in the same unit
again, and my willingness to deal with the conflict in another way has only grown.
 
In the spring of 2010, I attended Combatants for Peace’s alternative memorial
service, which left a deep impression on me. In previous years I had taken part in
demonstrations against the Occupation in Bil’in, Sheikh Jarrah, and inside Israel; but
that ceremony was the first time I 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. I joined CfP and
am still active in the movement’s ranks, serving in different positions, including
Regional Activity Coordinator and as the Israeli General Activity Coordinator.

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Personal stories of Palestinians and Israelis who had been a part of the violence or witness to it. Yet they all made the choice to walk the path of non-violent activism and partnership.
Personal stories of Palestinians and Israelis who had been a part of the violence or witness to it. Yet they all made the choice to walk the path of non-violent activism and partnership.