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(en) More truth from the land of Israel: A political army-service resistor.

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sun, 10 Dec 2000 02:10:17 -0500 (EST)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

Corporal Eyal Rozenberg, military ID number 6963386
Colonel Shaul Shahar, unit [****] commanding officer
Unit [****] secretariat
Unit [****] base camp headquarters
Notice of Departure from Service
Colonel Shahar,
On December 6th, 1998, I was conscripted into the Israeli
army, for a period of 36 months, according to the 'Security
Service Law'.
I did not welcome my conscription. Although my moral
resistance to the values of the 'Israeli Defense Forces' (a.k.a.
IDF) and its actions wasn't nearly as deep and resolved as that
which I now harbor – I intuitively resented having to sacrifice
3 years of my life because of an 'order from up above'.
Despite this fact, I did not consider then, even for a moment,
the option of objecting conscription: all of my friends
enlisted; every member of my family born in Israel had
enlisted when they were my age; all of my school-mates
enlisted; my parents fostered in me the belief that the
conscription is an act which is a positive act, to be accepted
without question, as did the glorious Israeli educational
system (an impressive feat on its part, I should note, in light
of the intense hostility towards itself it simultaneously
inspired in its attendees) – I viewed the work for the Israeli
Military as a 'service' I owed to my surrounding society. In
addition to this, I was tempted by the various courses of
service proposed to me, as professional stepping-stones:
'Talpiot', 'Intelligence Corps Talpiot' and, finally, the unit I
have hereto been part of.
As I have done in my interrogation at the Unit of Field-
Security at the Qirya in Tel-Aviv a while ago, I would
envision my personal state in late 1998 to that of a child
pushed beyond the threshold of a slide: if you don't hold on
tightly to the railing, you will end up in the sandbox at the
And at the bottom I arrived. The base training period
('Tironut') subjected me to well-engineered behavioristic
abuse – a via dolorosa, the walk through which for a month as
a 'zombie' leaves you without either will or ability to resist an
order – be its content as it may. A 'Tironut' in the Israeli
Military, even of the '02 Rifleman' kind, is a scar that is
painfully difficult to erase from one's soul (if this is at all
Time crawled on, agonizingly slow, the base training was
over, and I now found myself in a unit in which the conditions
of service are uncommonly comfortable in comparison with
most army units – work in a civilian compound, out of
uniform, with soldiers possessing a high level of technical
know-how – in short, a 'cr?me' unit. The, cr?me acted to
soften the softened the deposit of bitterness the base training
period had left in me; although it was not all smooth sailing, I
adopted an attitude the main principle of which was to 'make
the time go by' – get up in the morning, go to work, work and
go back to my apartment at the end of the day. And how bad
could a position in which one sits in front of powerful
computers, with access to the Internet, developing software in
an advanced and aesthetical programming environment?
But the cognitive blow the 'Tironut' had been for me set in
motion an on-going process of study of my self and my
surroundings: a exploration of the nature of the Israeli
'Defense' Forces, and of the social and political systems which
hurl us into it. And as time went by, as I pieced together, in
my mind's eye, detail-to-detail, both socially and historically,
I found myself beginning to doubt some of my most
fundamental suppositions: the necessity for the Israeli
Military, the merit of my military 'service', the truth in the
values the Israeli Military boasts – one of which being the
title of 'Defense Forces', and the positive effects of its past
actions, for me personally and for those that surround me.
A military which has slaughtered thousands (or tens of
thousands) of Palestinians during 1948 and expelled or chased
off hundreds of thousands – thus serving us Israelis a state on
a platter of foreign currency and local skulls.
A military that assisted in the organization of to-fail terrorist
bomb attacks during the cadence of Prime Minister Moshe
Sharet, to thwart the Israeli-Egyptian dialog initiation
A military that fought to maintain the colonialist English &
French control of the Suez Canal in the 'Sinai War' of 1956;
A military which attacked, bombarded and slaughtered both
soldiers and civilians in Jordan, Egypt and Syria over the
course of the state of Israel's first 20 years;
A military which expelled over 130,000 Syrians from their
native land of the Golan Heights in 1967, and continues the
occupation of their territory to this date;
A military which has held under oppressive and violent
occupation over a million Palestinians in Judea, Samaria and
the Gaza Strip since 1967, and continues to do so in wide
regions of these territories, ceaselessly abusing and
butchering the local populace, to this date *;
 * According to 'B'tselem' figures, the number of Palestinian wounded over the last
few days (29/09/2000 – 07/10/2000) is close to 2,900, and the number dead is close to
60; the ratio between these figures to those of the Israeli wounded and dead is one
Israeli casualty for every 15 Palestinians, and 1 Israeli wounded for every 25

A military which its occupation, attacks and well-aimed
bombardment (part of which utilizing payloads designed
specifically for mass murder) have killed tens of thousands of
native Lebanese and Palestinians, and have wounded circa
300,000  people over the course of the last 20 years – all in
the name of the 'protection of the settlements of northern
Israel', a cause which was been proven by the events of May
2000 to have been achievable at any moment by means of
unilateral withdrawal;
A military that provides support for the construction of
settlements in occupied territories and maintains them in the
face of local popular resistance;
A military which has chased the members of the Palestinian
Liberation Organization for seemingly-ideological reasons
across 4 states – only to patrol alongside the same
organization, a number of years later, to maintain 'security'
and 'peace' (and then to fire at them again, at times, in the
name of the same cause);
A military the funding and operation of which are the driving
force of the twisted Israeli economy and Israel's international
relations with the U.S.A. and the rest of the world's states;
A military that forcibly conscripts citizens into its service,
jailing those that refuse to work for it;
A military that wins every war while planting the seeds of the
next one;
A military that forms a part of a military-industrial complex
consuming a large part of the domestic product in Israel;
A military that upholds discrimination and chauvinism within
the Jewish society in Israel;
A military that makes use of my labor and the labor of my
like to obtain dirty money from questionable parties (the
purpose of whose acquisitions
of military knowledge, equipment and services are even more
questionable) in transactions of nearly unimaginable scale.
A military which corrupts the citizens 'serving' in it to such
an extent that they would place the interests of their
commanders and of the military system above those of their
friends and themselves;
A military whose officers are free to ignore even its own
orders, without fear of judicial action by their subordinates;
A military that is all this, and continues to be called the
'Defense Forces', to claim having kept the 'purity of arms',
and to have the pretense of being a 'people's army' -
May no one be a part of it!
Why, then, have I stayed in the Israeli Military, in your unit,
until now?
Since I was conscripted, this question has risen forth within
me time and time again, in increasing frequency. Why indeed
do I lend my hand to all of this? Can the justification of the
protection the Israelis' physical existence, attainable in many
other ways, satisfy my conscience?
And until now, I have answered this question half-heartedly:
"The military is not 'all bad'," I told myself, "you are in Tel-
Aviv, in a 'good' unit, well-fed – and even able to participate
in socio-political activity in your after-hours… why 'rock the
boat'? Why would you need the arrests, the trials, the
punishment, the harassment? And if you go back home to
Haifa, what will be of the social connections you've
established here? Your friends from the unit? Your activities?
After all, before you were conscripted your social activism
was significantly minor to your activity while within the
military… in fact, maybe you're doing more good than harm
in your present state? And besides, the parents will give you
And it was thus that I answered this question consciously,
when I was specifically asked it by the lovable interrogator
'Tomer' (so lovable as to buy me a soft drink, at the Ministry
of Defense's expense!). But he has reawakened an inner voice
I had thought to repress… I had thought that my activities
outside the military, within the frameworks of 'Hadash'
(Democratic Front for Peace and Equality) and the Green
organizations, coupled with my request not to rise in rank,
was excuse enough for the rest of my actions. But it is not so.
Later in the course of the interrogation, 'Tomer' asked me
(the quotes are inaccurate, of course): "Seeing that you are
undergoing a process of self-study and increasing awareness
to your surroundings – how can 'we' be assured that you will
continue to sympathize the IDF enough so as not to sabotage
its activities?" Although in his question 'Tomer' expressed a
fear I would become some sort of a second Udi Adiv – That I
would place some of Ehud Barak's dirty laundry on display
for his friends in Syria, Iraq or Iran – but the question, as
posed, continued to bother me, and I answered 'Tomer' that
whichever course I may choose to pursue in the future – I will
do so openly.
And from that time I have traversed another stretch-of-road,
over the course of which I was ousted from my unit, and I
now feel that in reciprocity to the military's having finally
recognizing me for what I am and acting accordingly, I should
do so as well.
In my meeting with the acting unit commanding officer,
Lieutenant-Colonel Efi Yerushalmi, on September 9th, 2000,
he spoke a sentence I have kept memorized: he said that the
principle which must guide me is the question whether, at the
end of the day, when I look in my mirror-image, I can accept
what I see.
I have to answer this question by saying that as long as I
continue working for you while you slaughter a conquered
people, while I repress my views in obeying commands and
laws that keep me in the military – I am living a lie, and this
lie will reflect upon me from the proverbial mirror. When I
peel off all of the fluff from my answer to 'Tomer', I am left
but with the fear of the sanctions that the military might
impose on me if I were to refuse continuing being a part of it.
I may not be a person of strong character, but I feel somewhat
secure when I stating before you that I will never again work
for the Israeli military, and that I will not be deterred by bars,
locks, harassments, physical abuse or any other sanction I
may be facing.
Lieutenant-Colonel told me: "If you wish to express your
views, why not do it in an effective way – in a way that would
make them clear to those around you?"
I hope that this time my acts are sufficiently effective and
I hereby declare my refusal to serve in the 'Israeli Defense
Forces' – in any fashion, in any position, in any unit, in
any rank, at any time and under any condition – effective
This refusal means non-attendance of my former unit,
refusal of all orders of the soldiers of the 'Israeli Defense
Forces', a repeal of my oath to protect the state of Israel
and a demand to be considered by the authorities as a
citizen who is no longer part of the 'Israeli Defense
 Eyal Rozenberg

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