Israeli refusenik: ‘I refuse to erase people from the world who might be right’ (IDF officer: We don’t erase people!)

Israel/Palestine
on 26 Comments

Moriel Rothman is an Israeli draftee who is refusing to serve. His blogpost about being summoned to an IDF office is here. Below is a sizeable excerpt. Go to his site to read the ending…

I arrive. Before arriving, I do a lot of meditating and some praying and generally try to get myself in a place in which I am calm and filled with love even for those who don’t love me.

I go upstairs. I am calm. I am called into the room. Across from me sits the Samla”g* (a high-up in the draft office).  The conversation goes something like this:

“Hello.”

“Hello.”

“We see that you were born in Israel, and then lived here when you were seventeen. And that you made ‘Aliyah’ last September. Is that right?”

“Well… immigrated, yeah.” (Probably best not to argue semantics here, I decide. One struggle at a time).

“And why don’t you want to serve in the army?”

“Because I am opposed to violence.”

”So are we. The IDF is not an organization that supports violence. We are defending our country’s borders.”

Breathe, Rothman. Breathe.

“I think the argument of whether the army is defensive or not is a different argument. But armies, all armies, are meant to use violence, to hurt and kill other people, and that is something I am not willing to take part in.”

“Why did you come here, then? Why didn’t you stay in America? You knew that you’d get drafted, right?”

“I want to be here. I care about what happens here, and the people living here. And anyway, the US has its army also.”

”But how can you live here and let other people defend you?”

“What I hear you asking is: How can I move to this country knowing that other people will be using the same violence I am opposed to, is that right?”

“Again: the army is not violent. The IDF is defensive.”

“It’s important for me to say that I am not telling others what to do, here. I myself am not willing to wear a uniform or hold a weapon, but I do claim to know what goes into someone else’s decision to do so… I don’t see myself as more moral or better. Maybe I’ll go a bit deeper into my philosophy here?”

“That’d be great, because so far, you haven’t convinced me.”

“OK, so, um… in life, there’s no way to know that what we believe is absolutely right, right?”

“Definitely.”

“As such, I think that with that knowledge of… unknowledge, the knowing that we don’t know what is Right or True, I believe in a path in which I can be assured that I am not going to erase from the world those people who might be right, or partially right, or together with whom I could find right.”

“We don’t erase people from the world.”

“If a bomb is dropped, whether its “defensive” or not, people are being erased from the world…”

“…”

“…”

“So, as of right now, you are going to be drafted in three weeks. If we don’t let you out on Conscience, what are you going to do?”

“I will not go to the army.”

“But it’s the law- would you be willing to break the law? To commit a crime?”

“I would rather break the law than join a system based on violence. Yes.”

“Isn’t that violence, though? Breaking the law?”

“No, I don’t think it is. Martin Luther King taught that when a law is unjust, and violates a one’s ethical principles, especially those which are based on nonviolence, the law should not be obeyed. And I also don’t think an act can be violent without a human victim who is hurt physically.”

26 Responses

  1. marc b.
    October 4, 2012, 9:28 am

    apologies if this has already been posted elsewhere, but speaking of ‘erasure’, this is just brilliant, absolutely brilliant.

    The triumphalists were out in full force to sing the praises of the Ilan Ramon Youth Physics Center at Ben Gurion University, which supplied many of the Israeli competitors for an international student physics competition, First Step to Nobel Prize in Physics, recently held in Poland. However, the achievement has been marred by overtly racist comments from the Ramon Center academic coördinator:

    “We succeeded in showing the world the potential of the Jewish mind,” said Professor Victor Malamud, the head of the Ilan Ramon Youth Physics Center at Ben Gurion University, which works with students who wish to enter physics competitions.

    Israel won first, second, third, and fourth prizes and the Israeli media is rightfully proud of the accomplishment. Yisrael HaYom conveniently named the first and third place winners, but not those awarded second place. Haaretz too “disappeared” the two second place winners, who happen to have been Israeli Palestinians. This Hebrew language article recounts the meeting with Pres. Shimon Peres. Not only does it omit the names of the Israeli Palestinian winners, it erroneously awards their second place prize to an Israeli Jewish student. It’s almost as if the non-Jews were air brushed out of the picture both literally and figuratively.

    link to richardsilverstein.com

    • ColinWright
      October 4, 2012, 1:46 pm

      marc b. says; “…Israel won first, second, third, and fourth prizes and the Israeli media is rightfully proud of the accomplishment. Yisrael HaYom conveniently named the first and third place winners, but not those awarded second place. Haaretz too “disappeared” the two second place winners, who happen to have been Israeli Palestinians. This Hebrew language article recounts the meeting with Pres. Shimon Peres. Not only does it omit the names of the Israeli Palestinian winners, it erroneously awards their second place prize to an Israeli Jewish student…”

      Calm down. I’m sure it won’t happen again.

      When they select the next batch of high achievers to be groomed for this, they’ll make sure to exclude Palestinians.

      • marc b.
        October 4, 2012, 4:59 pm

        the funny thing about this colin (well, not funny as in ‘ha ha’, but curious) is that these f*cking geniuses cannot even set aside their prejudices long enough to recognize a PR opportunity (given to them on a silver platter courtesy of the hard work, resilience and intelligence of the palestinian students) when it’s staring them right in the face.

      • ColinWright
        October 5, 2012, 12:07 am

        To Marc b:

        I daresay Israel just isn’t prepared to compromise that far. It would genuinely hurt them to admit that Palestinians are not untermenschen.

  2. dimadok
    October 4, 2012, 9:56 am

    Isn’t it sweet-young, liberal mind against the oppressive machine of violence?
    But here is the problem-while he exercises his battle on conciseness and claims the high moral grounds, someone else might die while defending him and his precious freedoms.
    It goes to the core of American and Israeli “liberal” and “universalism” Jews and non-Jews alike, who scream about the abuse of power and violence, while enjoying the fruits of it in their everyday lives, provided by the services of some others, perhaps less “enlightened” and more “brainwashed”.
    If you chose the non-violent path it doesn’t mean that you cannot serve your country and your community-there are plenty of options within the IDF for that.
    Self-promoting narcissism and claim for the moral superiority is just as deplorable, as the urge to kill.

    • Cliff
      October 4, 2012, 12:08 pm

      Spoken like a true bonehead.

      You are an eternal hypocrite.

      It wasn’t fascists like you who gained us our conceptions of ‘freedom’ and/or liberty. The story itself is not so one-dimensional that it can be boiled down on the Internet by some Zio-dweeb to worship of the military against the barbarian horde.

      Tell us all what the military – any military, at any time in history – has done for the pursuit of freedom of blah blah.

      Nevermind that you are chastising ‘young liberals’ for having the values you only PRETEND to have. These people walk the walk.

      The Native American resistance to Manifest Destiny was not Gandhian, nor did it have to be. We still sympathize with the indigenous population.

      It’s only the fascist ‘nationalista’ who expect the people they are robbing to behave like Saints so that you can easily get away with being Sinners.

    • Eva Smagacz
      October 4, 2012, 12:51 pm

      I don’t think Moriel wants to be defended.

      I am sure he does not wish to be “defended” outside of Israel’s legal borders. Just like I, living in peaceful Europe, wouldn’t like to be “defended” in Iran.

      • dimadok
        October 4, 2012, 9:01 pm

        Perhaps he could serve as a policeman while in IDF, fireman or perform any community work- yet he resolves to exercise his morals, disregarding the demands of the society he lives in. I called it societal parasitism and nothing else.

      • Eva Smagacz
        October 5, 2012, 4:35 am

        If demands of society you live in are immoral, do you feel compelled to join in? It’s an interesting stance.
        Going back to Moriel, we do not know if he isn’t doing any community work right now, so how can you call him a social parasite in the absence of this information?

      • dimadok
        October 5, 2012, 9:52 am

        @Eva.
        Because he refused to join the IDF- not it’s fighting units specifically. but also any supporting units, homefront units or community-based service. There is no indication on his blog or anywhere else that contradicts this. Therefore he remains, in my opinion, a social parasite- same as the ultra-orthodox Jews, Arabs or anyone else in Israel, who lives and prosper without giving anything back.

      • Woody Tanaka
        October 5, 2012, 10:15 am

        Thanks for the paradigm, dimadok.

        Because I have the same feeling about israelis. israelis live and prosper as a result of handouts of American taxpayer money and American diplomatic power, and they don’t give anything back. That makes israelis parasites.

        israel: international parasites. I like it!!

      • dimadok
        October 5, 2012, 11:48 am

        @woody:
        Would you care to extend the “parasite” definition to Egypt, Pakistan and bunch of other states receiving US financial support? Besides, Israel does give back while others just being munching of US budgets.

      • Woody Tanaka
        October 5, 2012, 2:34 pm

        “Would you care to extend the ‘parasite’ definition to Egypt, Pakistan and bunch of other states receiving US financial support?”

        Nope. Just you, parasite.

        “Besides, Israel does give back while others just being munching of US budgets.”

        You give us nothing. You spy on us, murder our citizens and sailors, and you’ve poisoned our political system. Because of your traitors among the US population, we throw money at you dogs that could be spent in a worthwhile fashion, feeding hungry children and giving them medical care in our country, rather than supporting your death cult.

    • ColinWright
      October 4, 2012, 1:41 pm

      dimadok says:

      “But here is the problem-while he exercises his battle on conciseness and claims the high moral grounds, someone else might die while defending him and his precious freedoms.”

      Nobody is dying trying to protect my freedoms. Those who are ordering the dying are in fact also trying to take away my freedoms.

      I’m getting very tired of all the lies. I’m not in the least worried about those who are supposedly trying to attack me, and I’m quite concerned about those who are supposedly protecting me.

      ___ off, to put it delicately.

    • Mooser
      October 4, 2012, 3:44 pm

      “someone else might die while defending him and his precious freedoms.”

      Because when you shoved the other IDF soldier in front of a bullet meant for you, you were defending your life, not just your freedoms! And besides, you were the more Jewish!
      It’s all projection with you guys, every word. But then, why should you hold anything back when you talk to yourself?

      I hope I’m not being too obsequious to this Dime-a-dozen guy, but I like to treat people with the respect they deserve, and a little over.

    • Mooser
      October 4, 2012, 4:10 pm

      “But here is the problem-while he exercises his battle on conciseness and claims the high moral grounds”

      Uh, sorry Dim One, it’s not him that has a problem with his “conciseness”.
      And, speaking of quote marks, aren’t those the most insinuating little quote marks ever? Sure can’t see what other purpose they serve.

    • talknic
      October 4, 2012, 9:51 pm

      dimadok October 4, 2012 at 9:56 am

      “Self-promoting narcissism and claim for the moral superiority is just as deplorable, as the urge to kill.”

      “.. as the urge to kill”? Oh dear ….

      • john h
        October 5, 2012, 9:28 pm

        Oh dear indeed; thanks, I missed that nice little phrase.

  3. quebecleft
    October 4, 2012, 1:13 pm

    sorry you did make Aliya.you do not like people there, you like jews.the officer is right your place is in the US.if you were serious you would have joined the ISM like Rachel Corrie.She cared about the people there.You try to camouflage yourself and put veneer on your bad conscience of being an ethnic cleanser.So pack up and go home:the US

  4. Egbert
    October 4, 2012, 1:20 pm

    ”So are we. The IDF is not an organization that supports violence. We are defending our country’s borders.”

    Israel has borders? Wow. Israel must be a country then. Any chance of us having a look at the map that defines these borders? I know France is a country and I know it’s borders. I know China is a country and I know it’s borders – along with the areas in dispute with neighboring countries. So, come on Israel, show us what ya got. Show us a map illustrating the borders Israel is defending now.

  5. ColinWright
    October 4, 2012, 1:38 pm

    There’s sort of an insane logic to that interview.

    If Zionism is lies, then it would follow that at the heart of Zionism, everything would be very deceitful.

    And sure enough — so many of that IDF officer’s statements are the most breathtaking lies.

  6. Mooser
    October 4, 2012, 3:57 pm

    “And sure enough — so many of that IDF officer’s statements are the most breathtaking lies.”

    The one which puzzled me is: “Why did you come here, then? Why didn’t you stay in America? You knew that you’d get drafted, right?”
    I went to the original to check for a mistake in transcription (“but I do claim to know what goes into someone else’s” should be “do not”) but it seems to agree.
    What was the date of this interview? We haven’t had a draft here in, oh, quite a while. January 27th, 1973.

    Oh, wait, in this line of Hebrew:
    לש”ב יקר תאריך גיוסך הינו 12/10/21 והינך משובץ בחיל חימוש. גיוס מוצלח!

    So it must have been in 2012? I’ll say he lies a lot.

    • kylebisme
      October 4, 2012, 5:15 pm

      The officer was referring to the draft in Israel, which could have been avoided by staying in the US.

      • Mooser
        October 5, 2012, 5:38 pm

        “The officer was referring to the draft in Israel, which could have been avoided by staying in the US.”

        Thanks. Now it makes a lot more sense. I guess I forgot about the Israeli draft.
        So, presumably, Rothman would have known about the Israeli draft when he made an Aliyah on himself. But in the time that Rothman was in Israel he was convinced that joining the IDF, even as an ordinary draftee as all Israeli Jews do, was worth resisting, that in fact, a sanction and penalty is better than going in the IDF.

  7. wes
    October 4, 2012, 8:10 pm

    Israeli refusenik: ‘I refuse to erase people from the world who might be right’ (IDF officer: We don’t erase people!)

    reminds me of the guy in the movie “eraserhead”

    This whole world is wild at heart and weird on top.
    David Lynch

  8. W.Jones
    December 7, 2012, 11:29 pm

    Can someone please tell me what was the “Refusenik” movement in the USSR?

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