"They are turning us into animals"!
"I am refusing because I want my refusal to create such an outcry that the foundations will shake--maybe then there will be an impact...
That's how we got out of Lebanon..."
The following are questions and answers by Israeli soldiers who are
refusing to serve their "Military Junta" in its racist and
terrorist pursue to subdue the resistance of the Palestinian people
and to destroy its dream for freedom and independence, using the
most criminal and humiliating methods outdone only by the Nazis and
the Apartheid regime.
methods include, but not restricted to, assassinations, firing at
rock-throwing children (more than 400 child died since October
2000), destroying civilian infrastructures (seaport, airport, power plants,
schools, factories, roads, etc.), homes demolitions, trees
uprooting, annexation of land, torture, indefinite detentions,
restriction of movement (even for the sick and dying), humiliation,
though, that the answers herein are by Israeli soldiers and, thus,
reflect an Israeli position. Imagine how would it look and feel to be
on the Palestinian side?!
||In a democratic society, is it permissible for
army reservists to refuse to serve in a location or carry out a
function designated by the army?
||The foremost duty of a citizen in a democracy is
to ensure that it remain democratic. Majority rule is a central
principle of democracy, but it is not the only one. There are
some things that a democracy is prohibited from doing. (Everyone
is in agreement about that; the question is, which things?) So
it is one's civic duty to refuse to perform undemocratic
activities, even in the name of one's country.
In our opinion, the lengthy occupation (35 years, including the
transfer of Jewish citizens into occupied territories)--and, in
particular, the means we are forced to use in order to maintain
the occupation--are so anti-democratic that they override the
principle of majority rule. Thus, the very refusal to carry out
such orders is a true democratic act.
Our refusal is not undermining the nature of the State of Israel
as a democratic nation. On the contrary--it is strengthening it.
Moreover, democratic governments everywhere, including in
Israel, are known for never doing "the right thing"
until they are pressured to do so by public opinion. It is the
duty of a democratic citizenry to apply such pressure. When
members of a minority feel that the democratic regime is too
oppressive, or is forcing them to obey laws which are contrary
to their conscience, they sometimes reach the point where they
are ready to pay the price for refusing to compromise their
principles. Sometimes it turns out that this minority is, in
fact, not a minority at all. Only when it rises up and succeeds
in mustering support for its stand is it then strong enough to
influence majority opinion. The strike waged by the handicapped
is a case in point. Another example: The Kfar Sava Municipality
decided to drastically raise property taxes. Property owners in
Kfar Sava decided not to pay the extra amount, even though they
were charged fines and other surcharges. In the end, the
decision was overturned, property taxes were restored to their
former level, and all the surcharges were annulled.
We have always been the "good guys" who carry out
their obligations without asking too many questions. But the
rules of the game have to change, and the time for change is
||If the government were to decide to evacuate
settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, and soldiers who support
such settlement refused to evacuate them, would you be as
||Absolutely! Difficult as it may be, we will not
force unwilling soldiers to evacuate settlements.
||What do you expect the army to do? To ask every
soldier if he feels like serving in the occupied territories?
||The army is considerate of the feelings of other
sectors of the population. Ultra-orthodox Jews are not required
to serve in the army. Special arrangements are made for
outstanding athletes and musicians; only children; soldiers
without family in Israel; soldiers from the lower socioeconomic
strata of society, and many others.
Gen. Uzi Dayan once said that the I.D.F. "must allow
discussion of the moral aspects of service in the
To date, there is no avenue for a soldier plagued by moral
questions to find solutions to his problems. Quite the contrary.
Conscientious objectors are subjected to humiliation and
vindictive behavior, forced to choose between prison or
consultation with a mental health officer. And the army, by
refusing to deal with the issue, loses out on one more soldier
who could have made an important contribution in another post.
The army must come to realize that moral values have the same
restrictive effect on a soldier's actions as do medical or
Why should we risk our lives, at the same time compromising our
values? Our military and political leaders are obliged to
explain to us what we are fighting for. What are our objectives?
Who is the enemy? Is there really no other option?
By evading political decisions the government is abandoning all
of us to our fate. We need to have our faith restored, the faith
that was lost long ago.
||We are at war. Don't you think that it is
criminal to refuse to serve in wartime?
||When the country is fighting for its life, we all
have to take part in the struggle. Today we are not fighting for
the survival of the state. We are fighting to maintain our role
as conqueror and occupier of the territories.
Our feeling is that the mutual acts of terror are not
inevitable; the situation can be changed. The decision is a
political one, not a military one.
Declaring a state of "war" in order to induce an
atmosphere in which people feel they are obliged to serve, is
the same as declaring an area to be a "restricted military
area" in order to evacuate the civilian population, or
declaring a "state of emergency" in order to crush a
workers' strike. It is a cynical use of power by governments
(the journalist, Ofer Shelach, called our government a
"military junta") in order to squelch legitimate
During the twentieth century millions of soldiers went off to
what today are considered to have been unnecessary wars. We have
decided to say: No!
||What's your problem? All you're being asked to do
is to protect Israeli citizens who work or travel in the
territories. How is that any different from protecting citizens
anywhere else? For example, why is that different from
patrolling an airport overseas?
||The best answer we can give is a quote from Gen.
(res.) Effi Etam [today a leader of Israel's militant right
wing]. Etam wrote that civilians living in combat zones should
know that they are likely to be hurt. He, of course, was
referring to Palestinians living in Raffah, but his words are
applicable to the Jewish settlers as well.
These settlers are far from being innocent lambs. They refuse to
allow the building of protective walls around their settlements,
they refuse to bullet-proof their cars, and they refuse to adapt
their way of life to the reality of living in a combat zone.
They trick the army, setting up outposts behind its back and
forcing it to split up its defense forces; they provoke conflict
whenever things get quiet. They are not helping themselves--why
do I have to help them?
||Your claims are political in nature. Political
protest is legitimate, but the army stands outside of politics,
||I have two answers to this question:
First of all, the army has been engaging in politics for long
time. It is more political today than it's ever been, and
there's no use in pretending to be neutral. Witness some of the
comments made by the Chief of Staff, the head of the
Intelligence Branch, etc. Not to mention the lies put out by the
Army Spokesman that have raised serious doubts as to his
Second, its true that until now you have asked questions with a
political flavor to them. But my refusal to serve in the
territories is primarily grounded in moral reasons.
We know what kind of activities the soldiers--especially the
reservists--are being required to carry out. It's not about
apprehending potential terrorists; it's not about demolishing
artillery positions that are shooting at Jewish settlements
inside the Green Line. It's not really necessary to recount the
stories; you can read about them every day in the newspapers,
including the Israeli press. You can see pictures on the foreign
news stations, you can talk to soldiers who return home in shock
from the checkposts.
They are turning us into animals; they are giving free rein to
the most sadistic elements among us. We are not prepared to be
part of this.
In all the accounts of the most vicious conflicts known to the
twentieth century, people have always lauded those few who
refused to take part in the atrocities and who offered their aid
to the victims, whether openly or in secret.
How many war movies have been made showing the "good
soldier" who refuses to harm defenseless civilians? I feel
that this is now our moment of truth, and every one of us has to
decide if he is or is not a of the human race.
||That's all well and good, but you should be there
at the checkpost, making sure that these things don't happen.
What good does it do if you stay inside the Green Line?
||That's a nice suggestion, but it's not practical.
You have to be there in order to understand that one single
soldier with a conscience cannot make an impact. The others will
simply ignore him and do whatever they feel like doing. Not to
mention the fact that the commanding officers usually back them
up or turn a blind eye.
True, I can lodge a complaint after the fact. But I'm not naive.
I know what they do with my complaints. I'm also not trying to
hide behind anything or be relieved of duty for psychiatric
reasons. No, I am refusing to obey orders.
I am refusing because I want my refusal to make waves, to arouse
others to action, to create such an outcry that the foundations
will shake--maybe then there will be an impact. Only numbers can
make a difference, and when there is organized protest, there
are numbers. That's how we got out of Lebanon, for example.
Our hope is that the next time some cabinet ministers discuss
whether to demolish a neighborhood or drop bombs near a school,
they will remember that the people who carry out their
instructions have other values besides obeying orders, and that
to continue this policy is to weaken the public backing of the
||The Palestinians are trying to destroy us. They
are slaughtering us in the streets and have vowed to annihilate
us. There is no possibility of peace with such people. We have
no choice but to fight.
||It's important to understand that our criticism
of the way our army is behaving in no way implies support for
the actions of the other side. We can't allow their crimes to
legitimize our foolishness. I feel responsible only for the
actions of my country, and I can only protest against them,
regardless of whether the other side is guilty or innocent.
Furthermore, one mustn't use the same moral criteria to compare
the terrorist acts of the Hamas with the military acts of a
sovereign state such as Israel.
The I.D.F. is not a terrorist organization. The I.D.F. is not an
underground movement struggling against its conquerors. The
I.D.F. is not meant to carry out acts of vengeance but to
implement pragmatic political policy.
We are asking Arafat to risk civil war, without giving him any
political rationale for doing so. Even Ben-Gurion didn't disband
the underground movements before he had a state in hand.
The Palestinians' burning hatred towards us stems, in large
part, from the very policies that we are protesting
Extreme statements are being made daily by extremists on both
sides. They must not be allowed to dictate policy while those
who seek peace and choose life stand by and pay the terrible