Daphni Leef
Daphni Leef Flash 90

Grassroots Zionist activist group My Israel accused Daphni Leef, the press-anointed leader of the media-driven "social protest" that has swept Israel over the summer, of purposely dodging service in the IDF. The movement discovered that Leef signed a public letter along with dozens of other pre-army-aged youths in 2001-2, declaring a refusal to serve in the "army of occupation."

The letter appears on a website that has been archived by "Wayback" – an internet service that saves formerly active websites for posterity. Leef's name is number 81 in the list of signatories, in the Hebrew section.

Leef has claimed that she was exempted from serving in the IDF because she has epilepsy. When a television presenter asked her this week why she did not serve in alternative national service, she said that she preferred to volunteer without being forced to do so – and then walked off the set.

However, her signature on the letter appears to belie her claims, and to show that she refused to serve in the IDF on ideological grounds – an act that would place her outside of mainstream Israeli society's political consensus, and endanger the entire social protest which she heads.

The social protest leaders want one million Israelis to attend a rally on Saturday night. They are not likely to achieve this goal but critics suspect that their supporters in the press may assist them in inflating the number of people that do show up. Leef has been blasted for calling for the resignation of Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, the man appointed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to address the protesters' demands. Her refusal to meet him was sen by many as a sign that the protest is a smokescreen for a leftist attempt to bring down the government. 

The letter she signed as a youth was addressed to then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the height of the Palestinian Authority's barbaric war of terror against Israeli citizens, when buses full of Jewish civilians were exploding every day. It blamed Israel for the terror, saying:

"The state of Israel commits war-crimes and tramples over human rights, destroying Palestinian cities, towns and villages; expropriating land, detaining and executing without trial, conducting mass-demolition of houses, businesses, and public institutions; looting, closure, curfew, torture, preventing the administration of medical care, constructing and expanding settlements - All these actions are opposed to human morality, and violate international treaties ratified by Israel. In these and other actions Israel systematically prevents Palestinians from maintaining any reasonable life. This reality leads to suffering, fear, and despair, which yield terror attacks."

Leef is the most prominent symbol of the social protest, which has every appearance of being managed by the New Israel Fund. The Fund, which critics say specializes in political subterfuge, was also the driving force behind other press-driven campaigns, like the famous Viki Knafo campaign against cutting benefits to divorced and unwed mothers. In that case, too, the protest was engineered to seem as if it spontaneously sprang around an unknown grassroots activist, but later turned out to have been directed by the media experts from Shatil, the New Israel Fund's operative arm.

Leef, 25, is not married, has no children and was raised in the affluent neighborhoods of Rechavia in Jerusalem and Kfar Shemaryahu.