By Jeremy Bergen July 11, 1997

From: cpt@igc.apc.org

ZREFIN MILITARY PRISON, ISRAEL --Yakov Krasnovsky is a Russian Orthodox Christian currently imprisoned in an Israeli jail for his convictions as a Conscientious Objector (CO). He refuses to serve in the Israeli army despite facing five years in military prisons. CPT member Jeremy Bergen tried to visit him in prison on June 4, but was denied entry. Bergen, Winnipeg, MB, served with CPT's Hebron team from April 25 - June 15 of this year.

As a Christian, Yakov rejects the military based on the teachings of Jesus and the church. "We don't know what the purpose of life is, but it cannot be to kill people," said Yakov's brother Mikhail, also a CO.

Yakov, 21, emigrated with his family from Byelorussia to Nazareth in 1991. Upon refusing military service in February 1997 he was sentenced to 14 days in prision. Required to report again on May 8, he again refused to serve and was sentenced to 70 days. When he is released, he will have 24 hours to report to the Induction Center and will likely be imprisoned again.

In Israel, military service is not only mandatory, but essential for getting most jobs and good mortgage terms. Since the Likud party took power, obtaining military exemptions on conscientious grounds has become virtually impossible. Israeli law recognizes exemptions based on conscience for women, but not for men. The law also grants exemptions on religious grounds to Jewish yeshiva students, who study the Torah. However there is now talk of eliminating that exemption by setting up a program where yeshiva studies are interspersed with military duties.

A new organization, Conscientious Objectors in Israel, was recently formed to advocate on behalf of COs like Yakov. They can be reached at <silverb@netvision.net.il>, attention: Mikhail Krasnovsky.

Christian Peacemaker Teams is an initiative among Mennonite and Church of the Brethren congregations and Friends Meetings that supports violence reduction efforts around the world. CPT P. O. Box 6508 Chicago, IL 60680 tel 312-455-1199 FAX 312-666-2677 email cpt@igc.org WEB http://www.prairienet.org/cpt/