Israeli CO Daniel Elsohn: My Refusal Is a Taking of Responsibility

05 Apr
10:50 PM

Dozens of young Israelis sent Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu a letter, on 12 March, 2014, in which they declared their refusal to serve in the Israeli military. While it is the first act of its kind in five years, it follows a long tradition of communal conscientious objection.Published by Alternative Information Center (AIC)
April 2, 2014

The purpose of this letter is to protest against the ongoing occupation of Palestinian territories where, according to the signatories ‚Äúhuman rights are violated and acts defined by international law as war-crimes are perpetuated on a daily basis.‚ÄĚ The signatories are also protesting the way in which the army influences civilian life, deepening the sexism, militarism, violence, inequality and racism present in Israeli society.
.
In the following interview with the Alternative Information Center (AIC), one of the conscientious objectors, 17-year old high school student Daniel Elsohn from Tel Aviv, explains his refusal to serve in the Israeli army.
.
AIC: Why did you choose to refuse to serve in the Israeli army?
.
Daniel Elsohn: I see the occupation and military rule, as well as other actions carried out by the Israeli army, as unjust acts that I cannot support. By refusing to serve in the army, I express my objection to the current army operations and I assume a responsibility by taking action and refraining from actively supporting them.
.
The Israeli army directly assists the occupation because it is not only serving the government as an executive agency it also enforces the law as a judiciary on the people in the West Bank. Through this the army passes special legislation for Palestinians whereas Israelis living in the West Bank are still subject to Israeli law.
.
AIC: What are the presumable consequences of your refusal? Which one do you fear the most?
.
D.E.: Mostly I am worried about the reactions of the Israeli society, because reactions vary from person to person. In job interviews, for example, my refusal could be a big deal even though Israeli law is on my side – employers are not allowed to reject people who refused military service, but if an employer really cares about the subject he probably would not hire a refusenik.
.
AIC: What do you wish to accomplish through your public letter of refusal?
.
D.E.: Army service in Israel is very important for the people. Criticizing it is socially acceptable, but only to a certain point, so it should be done with caution. Through the letter we want to encourage others to reconsider their stance on the occupation, the army and the role of the military in civil society. Personally, I want other Israelis to reconsider their decisions and actions in general and I want them to question our norms and to stop taking these norms for granted.
.
AIC: Was there any reaction of the Israeli government to your letter?
.
D. E.: As far as I know the prime minister himself did not respond. But Yair Lapid (the Minister of Finance) attacked us on his Facebook page. He said we are spoiled kids who think they deserve everything.
.
AIC: What are the reactions of your family, friends and general environment?
.
D. E.: The Israeli society does not smoothly tolerate refuseniks. Some of my friends will join the army. So they do not particularly support me, but they know me well enough to be okay with my refusal. The reactions concerning this issue in society vary a lot. My family, for example, supports my decision, but I know others who encounter difficulties with their environment.
.
AIC: Are you promoting this idea in schools, university and so forth?
.
D. E.: The other objectors and I are still in high-school. This offers us a great platform to spread the message of our letter. Of course we want to encourage other pupils from our school to sign the objection, too. Our guidelines are clear: If they agree with us – fine! But we would never coerce them to do so.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail
« »

IMEMC News & Agencies

Related Articles