Israel: Rela Mazali

This struggle, for me, has branched into almost every part of my life. It has fed and formed both my creative work as a writer and my work as a peace activist, which are in turn interconnected.

— Rela Mazali

Rela Mazali, an Israeli writer and feminist activist, is one of the founders of New Profile, an activist group that promotes peace among young Israelis. An outspoken critic of Israeli militarism, Rela has worked for many years to end torture and other human rights violations by Israeli authorities. Since 1980 she has been working at national and international levels on antimilitarism and feminism, especially with regard to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Her strong emphasis on the role of women working towards a demilitarized society is an inspiration to all who work with her.

Rela Mazali is a peace activist, who is networked to some effective peace building groups inside Israel. She is very committed to bringing about peace and tolerance between the Israelis and the Palestinians through mutual understanding and respect. She says, "For the past seven years, I have conducted part of my struggle against militarization with and through a feminist group. We focused on women’s position within the context of Israeli militarization, after which we founded New Profile, a feminist antimilitarist group, working to de-militarize the society in Israel. While a number of serious, committed organizations do very important work 'across the lines' to counteract the hatred between Jews and Palestinians, our orientation is 'inwards'. We aim to change the society in which many of us were born and raised, and to readapt the culture that we all share. Our basic tenet is that the existing culture is actively fostering apartheid and inflaming enmity, not simply defending itself against outside aggression. We see this as a result of the deeply rooted mindsets that in turn blind the majority of Israelis from seeing this simple fact. And so we work to raise consciousness regarding this vicious cycle." The main channels through which Rela Mazali works to counteract it include challenging the militarization of Israeli education, creating public opportunities for discussing and learning about militarization in Israel, and supporting young people, men and women, who refuse to enlist. There is a growing movement of draft resistance in Israel today, and New Profile is providing the young people who are part of it with information as well as moral and emotional support. Mazali says, "Most draft resisters start out very isolated, and we put them in touch with each other so they can develop a consciousness of being part of a group."

New Profile Movement for the Civilization of Israeli Society (NPMfCIS)