LETTER TO THE EDITOR IN HAARETZ ONLINE DAILY
I will not participate in my upcoming reserve duty
For over 35 years, using its military might, Israel has been occupying the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. About 3.5 million Palestinians are under its occupation. An entire nation has been marked as the enemy. Millions of people, different from one another, have been painted in the Israeli consciousness in colors of terror and inhumanity, to make it easier for us to justify our behavior, to continue to avert our glance - mainly so we can continue to be occupiers.
But these people, the subjects of the occupation, are not abstract figures. I saw the two teenage boys who were taken from the yard of their house, handcuffed, kneeling in the deep mud. I saw an older man struggling with his trembling lower lip, in order not to cry after 19-year-old soldiers decided to educate him, and to delay him at the checkpoint for an entire day. I saw a woman, on a particularly cold and rainy winter day, swaddling her baby and waiting, ID card in hand, until the soldier had time to motion to her with his finger to approach for a check. I knew the man whose nephew was killed because soldiers chose him to serve as a human shield for them. I spoke to people who called an ambulance to evacuate the wounded and the sick, but it didn't arrive because our forces prevented its passage. I met the family that collected rainwater all winter, until someone in the Civil Administration decided to destroy the reservoir, since they had no permits. I read the words of the man who was forced to evacuate the body of his neighbor, and the story of the old wife of the village idiot, whom everyone knew and pitied, until he was shot by soldiers.
I can only be ashamed and try to protest. Occupation, any occupation, depends on the willingness of soldiers to maintain it. I know that many soldiers, in the standing army and in the reserves, are still willing to carry out their orders; to continue to believe, despite what they see with their own eyes, that repression can lead to victory. I won't be among them. I refuse to be an active partner to what is being done in my name in any case.
There are deeds that are unforgivable. We will all have to answer for the killing of civilians, the mass destruction of homes, the curfew, the humiliation and the starvation; for the policy of apartheid that distinguishes between the Jewish master and his Palestinian subject; for the out-and-out racism and the hard-heartedness.
I have been working in a human rights organization for about a year-and-a-half. In my work, I am exposed daily to Israel's routinely negative conduct in the territories. I am witness to the military's mobilization for carrying out and preparing these deeds. In the course of my work, I frequently travel to the occupied territories, learn at first-hand about the situation I have described, and try to change it. I won't go to those places in uniform.
The writer was sentenced this week to 14 days in jail for refusing to serve in the territories.