Israeli Chooses “Honorable Life” Over Joining Military
an article by David Swanson
Danielle Yaor is 19, Israeli, and refusing to take part in the Israeli
military. She is one of 150 who have committed themselves, thus
far, to this
click on photo to enlarge
We, citizens of the state of Israel, are designated for army
service. We appeal to the readers of this letter to set aside what has
always been taken for granted and to reconsider the implications of
We, the undersigned, intend to refuse to serve in the army and the
main reason for this refusal is our opposition to the military
occupation of Palestinian territories. Palestinians in the occupied
territories live under Israeli rule though they did not choose to do
so, and have no legal recourse to influence this regime or its
decision-making processes. This is neither egalitarian nor just. In
these territories, human rights are violated, and acts defined under
international law as war-crimes are perpetuated on a daily basis.
These include assassinations (extrajudicial killings), the
construction of settlements on occupied lands, administrative
detentions, torture, collective punishment and the unequal
allocation of resources such as electricity and water. Any form of
military service reinforces this status quo, and, therefore, in
accordance with our conscience, we cannot take part in a system
that perpetrates the above-mentioned acts.
The problem with the army does not begin or end with the damage
it inflicts on Palestinian society. It infiltrates everyday life in Israeli
society too: it shapes the educational system, our workforce
opportunities, while fostering racism, violence and ethnic, national
and gender-based discrimination.
We refuse to aid the military system in promoting and perpetuating
male dominance. In our opinion, the army encourages a violent and
militaristic masculine ideal whereby ‘might is right’. This ideal is
detrimental to everyone, especially those who do not fit it.
Furthermore, we oppose the oppressive, discriminatory, and heavily
gendered power structures within the army itself.
We refuse to forsake our principles as a condition to being accepted
in our society. We have thought about our refusal deeply and we
stand by our decisions.
We appeal to our peers, to those currently serving in the army
and/or reserve duty, and to the Israeli public at large, to reconsider
their stance on the occupation, the army, and the role of the
military in civil society. We believe in the power and ability of
civilians to change reality for the better by creating a more fair and
just society. Our refusal expresses this belief.
Only a few of the 150 or so resisters are in prison. Danielle says
that going to prison helps to make a statement. In fact, here’s one
of her fellow refuseniks on CNN because he went to prison.
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But going to prison is essentially optional, Danielle says, because the military (IDF) has to pay 250 Shekels a day ($66, cheap by U.S. standards) to keep someone in prison and has little interest in doing so. Instead, many claim mental illness, says Yaor, with the military well-aware that what they’re really claiming is an unwillingness to be part of the military. The IDF gives men more trouble than women, she says, and mostly uses men in the occupation of Gaza. To go to prison, you need a supportive family, and Danielle says her own family does not support her decision to refuse.
Why refuse something your family and society expect of you? Danielle Yaor says that most Israelis do not know about the suffering of Palestinians. She knows and chooses not to be a part of it. “I have to refuse to take part in the war crimes that my country does,” she says. “Israel has become a very fascist country that doesn’t accept others. . ...more.