Meet Nathan Blanc, Israeli conscientious objector

ActivismIsrael/Palestine
on 26 Comments

Nathan Blanc is an Israeli conscientious objector. He’s getting ready to serve his 8th stint in jail for refusing to serve in the Israeli military. He believes in democracy. From the video:

The main reason for my refusal is the feeling our country is going towards a non democratic condition of civil inequality between us and the Palestinians. There are two people in the same land but only the Israelis can vote in the elections.

Blanc has internalized one state/ two peoples.

Israel is refusing to offer him civil service as an alternative to military service and he doesn’t want to get a mental health deferment; “I’m not going to put on an act,” he told Haaretz last January. He thinks the army is trying to “wear him down with the repeated confinements until he gives in and enlists.”

That was after two months in prison, now he’s been in for over 100 days. Harriet Sherwood reports for The Guardian, Israel set to jail teenage conscientious objector for eighth time:

It is a routine Nathan Blanc knows well. At 9am on Tuesday morning, the 19-year-old will report, as instructed in his draft papers, to a military base near Tel Aviv. There he will state his objection to serving in the Israeli army. Following his refusal to enlist, Blanc expects to be arrested and sentenced to between 10 and 20 days in jail. He will then be taken to Military Prison Number 6 to serve his time. And then, following his release, the cycle will begin over again.

The reason why Blanc knows what to expect is that this will be the eighth time the teenage conscientious objector has been jailed in the past 19 weeks. Since the date of his original call-up for military service, Blanc has spent more than 100 days in prison; on one occasion, he was released on a Tuesday and re-imprisoned two days later on a Thursday.

Blanc began to consider the possibility of refusing the draft several years ago. “It was a very hard decision, it took me a long time to get to it,” he says.

The turning point was Operation Cast Lead, the war in Gaza that began at the end of 2008 and ended three weeks later with a Palestinian death toll of around 1,400. In a statement issued when he was first imprisoned, Blanc said: “The wave of aggressive militarism that swept the country then, the expressions of mutual hatred, and the vacuous talk about stamping out terror and creating a deterrent effect were the primary trigger for my refusal.”

The government, he said, was “not interested in finding a solution to the existing situation, but rather in preserving it … We will talk of deterrence, we will kill some terrorist, we will lose some civilians on both sides, and we will prepare the ground for a new generation full of hatred on both sides … We, as citizens and human beings, have a moral duty to refuse to participate in this cynical game.”

In an interview with the Guardian, he says: “The war going on in this country for more than 60 years could have ended a long time ago. But both sides are giving into extremists and fundamentalists. The occupation was supposed to be temporary, but now no one speaks of it ending.”

The Israeli state, he adds, keeps people “under our control” without democratic rights. Palestinians are subject to “collective punishment” for the actions of a few.

Will our msm write about this? Probably not. Here is a facebook page with updates about Blanc, including video messages for him from other Israeli Refusniks.

War Resistors International:

Repeated imprisonment is a violation of international legal standards. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in Opinion 24/2003 on Israel came to the conclusion that the repeated imprisonment of conscientious objectors in Israel is arbitrary, and therefore it constitutes a violation of 14 par 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, of which Israel is a signatory.

Natan Blanc refuses to enlist in the Israeli Army based on beliefs and conscience. He claims his human right to conscientious objection, as guaranteed by Article 18 of the ICCPR.

nathan
Nathan Blanc Israeli Conscientious Objector
About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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26 Responses

  1. talknic
    April 2, 2013, 9:17 am

    Deuteronomy 20:05 The officers shall say to the army: “Has anyone built a new house and not yet begun to live in it? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else may begin to live in it. 6 Has anyone planted a vineyard and not begun to enjoy it? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else enjoy it. 7 Has anyone become pledged to a woman and not married her? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else marry her.” 8 Then the officers shall add, “Is anyone afraid or fainthearted? Let him go home so that his fellow soldiers will not become disheartened too.”

    They should add : Is anyone against the Jewish Zionist State breaking International Law, the UN Charter, relevant conventions and thereby turning Israel into a pariah state? Let him go home so that his fellow soldiers can commit war crimes without the thorn of a conscience in their sides.

  2. NickJOCW
    April 2, 2013, 9:41 am

    Thanks Annie. Brave boy. This seems to be a link to send him support. link to newprofile.org

  3. W.Jones
    April 2, 2013, 10:21 am

    Congratulations to the redeemed.

  4. marc b.
    April 2, 2013, 10:31 am

    The government, he said, was “not interested in finding a solution to the existing situation, but rather in preserving it …

    smart.

  5. HarryLaw
    April 2, 2013, 10:40 am

    This young man must be commended for this brave act of resistance, whereas the PA’s refusal to put pressure on the ICC for all the crimes perpetrated against the Palestinian people since the ICC came into existance is itself a criminal abdication of their duties as so called leaders, to pressure the ICC is not even an act of resistance, calling for the law to be implemented is what any normal person would do when an offence is perpetrated against them. That the PA steadfastly refuse to protect innocent Palestinians from murder and ethnic cleansing and refuse to do what is right, just because their false friend the US warns them of “consequences” and tells them not to, indicates to me, and should any neutral observer everything you need to know about these worthless cowards and appeasers. [ The PA would put me in jail for that comment as they have for many journalists and bloggers for even less criticism] Bravo Nathan Blanc, if only Abbas had a fraction of your backbone.

    • pabelmont
      April 2, 2013, 7:35 pm

      The poor dear PA leaders are the co-opted, bribed, corrupted intermediaries that all imperialists try to generate to stand between themselves and the people they mean to imperialize over. So sad. Why have the Arab states never made a fuss (including the new and newly Islamic Egypt) about Israel? Presumably because their leaders — whether tyrants, dictators, elected leaders, or something else are all controlled in their behavior by various forms of corruption. Hamas doesn’t seem to be controlled, so is called “extremist” as well as “terrorist”. The PA leaders are not alone in not being brave. they remember what happened to Mossadegh and Allende and JFK and MLK and so very many others and they are in much less strong positions.

      The young man is brave and says it truly.

      As Afif Safieh — sometime PLO ambassador to USA — used to quip, as to Palestine Israel wants the Geography without the Demography (and he might have said, without the democracy). This young man says it’s time for democracy in all of Israel/Palestine, in all The Land (for both the Israelis and the Palestinians love the same land, and the land is one).

      • W.Jones
        April 4, 2013, 11:15 pm

        pabelmont, what happened to Arafat?

    • Hostage
      April 3, 2013, 3:28 am

      whereas the PA’s refusal to put pressure on the ICC for all the crimes perpetrated against the Palestinian people since the ICC came into existance is itself a criminal abdication of their duties as so called leaders, to pressure the ICC is not even an act of resistance, calling for the law to be implemented is what any normal person would do when an offence is perpetrated against them.

      That’s nonsense. The Article 12(3) process was designed to accommodate bankrupt, war-torn, or failed states that could not exercise jurisdiction owing to military occupations and a total or substantial collapse or unavailability of their own national judicial systems.

      The PA officials have done all that’s required for the ICC to act by filing the 2009 Article 12(3) declaration and the new Prosecutor has admitted as much, e.g.
      * link to timesofisrael.com
      * link to youtube.com

      There is no obligation whatever for countries under economic siege to join the ICC Assembly of State Parties and pay dues for the privilege of being ignored.

      If we are going to place blame anywhere, then the BDS movement is completely missing in action when it comes to applying political pressure on ICC officials to act on Palestine’s behalf.

  6. sukey blanc
    April 2, 2013, 11:17 am

    As an American and first cousin of Natan Blanc’s father, I just want to say how proud I am of Natan. Natan’s story resonates across the political spectrum of people who critique Israeli expansionism. I hope people will follow his story and share it widely.

    It’s also good to remember that Natan does not want to spend the next several years going in and out of prison. He hopes that the IDF will allow him to do alternative service instead. Natan is a visible face of a growing underground movement of Israeli draft resistors who for various reasons do not have option of making a political statement like Natan. There is a very good article about this by Ruth Hiller from New Profile. link to newprofile.org

  7. seafoid
    April 2, 2013, 11:51 am

    There are so few conscientious objectors in Israel . I read this today about the Shoah in Poland . Are they linked, I wonder. Of course the situations are different. But there is so little compassion in Israel. Societies in thrall to racial insanity must have common threads I imagine .

    link to nybooks.com

    “Peasants in the countryside, as Engelking and Grabowski demonstrate, were unconcerned with protecting the reputation of the Polish nation (with which they likely did not identify), but obsessed with their position relative to their neighbors.5 Peasants figure in all of these books as competitive, jealous, and concerned above all with property. Under German occupation, peasants regularly denounced one another to the Germans on all conceivable pretexts. This “epidemic of denunciations,” as Grabowski puts it, made the prospect of rescuing a Jew from the German policy of destruction extremely difficult. Peasants noticed when a neighboring family was collecting more food, keeping different hours, or even bringing home a newspaper. All of these were signs that a Jew was being hidden, and led to denunciations which had overlapping motives: desire for the property of the Jews and those hiding them, and fear of collective German reprisals.
    In this situation, as Engelking observes, it was highly irrational for Polish peasants to help Jews: “in the case of Jews seeking aid the costs of refusing them were zero, and the costs of helping them were enormous.” As she and Grabowski both show, very often Poles acted as if they were rescuers, took the Jews’ money, and then turned them in to the police. In Grabowski’s study of dozens of cases of rescue and betrayal, he found that the Jews who were rescued rather than betrayed were precisely those who found their way to people who were not thinking of personal gain. This also holds of course for Poles such as Jan Karski and Witold Pilecki who voluntarily entered, respectively, the Warsaw ghetto and Auschwitz.6 As Grabowski is careful to stress, there were such people in the county he investigates, and throughout occupied Poland. Engelking recalls Wacław Szpura, who baked bread three times every night for the thirty-two Jews he rescued.”

    • W.Jones
      April 2, 2013, 8:35 pm

      Seafoid,

      Perhaps the author is being too negative about the Polish? The reason I entertain that possibility, is because it is remarkable to me that unlike with so many other nations, like Ukraine, France, and Norway, the Germans were apparently unable to form a serious Polish collaborationist government.

      Perhaps Piotr can fill us in on this.

      • seafoid
        April 3, 2013, 2:15 am

        Earlier in the article he made the point that even though the Germans decapitated the Polish elite they were never able to get the resistance under control. So it wasn’t anti Polish. But the conditions in Poland in 1943-45 were murderous. It was not rational to try to save Jews.

        Poland was brought to hell in WW2 by the Nazis and the Communists.

      • W.Jones
        April 4, 2013, 11:20 pm

        Seafoid,

        I read that 3 million Christian Poles were genocided by the Nazis. Is that true and does that count as Holocaust?

      • seafoid
        April 7, 2013, 5:21 pm

        It is. I presume it counts as a Holocaust.

      • RoHa
        April 7, 2013, 10:26 pm

        But not as an important one.

  8. Cliff
    April 2, 2013, 11:54 am

    Good interview.

  9. DICKERSON3870
    April 2, 2013, 1:31 pm

    ● RE: “It is a routine Nathan Blanc knows well. At 9am on Tuesday morning, the 19-year-old will report, as instructed in his draft papers, to a military base near Tel Aviv. There he will state his objection to serving in the Israeli army. Following his refusal to enlist, Blanc expects to be arrested and sentenced to between 10 and 20 days in jail. He will then be taken to Military Prison Number 6 to serve his time. And then, following his release, the cycle will begin over again. The reason why Blanc knows what to expect is that this will be the eighth time the teenage conscientious objector has been jailed in the past 19 weeks.” ~ Sherwood’s Guardian article

    THE PREDICAMENT OF “NATHAN B” IS A BIT LIKE THAT OF ‘JOSEPH K’ IN “THE TRIAL”, BY FRANZ KAFKA: After months of trial postponement, Joseph K goes to court painter Titorelli to ask for advice. He is told to hope for little. He might get definite acquittal, ostensible acquittal, or indefinite postponement. No one is ever really acquitted, but sometimes cases can be extended indefinitely.

    Titorelli: “You see, in definite acquittal, all the documents are annulled. But with ostensible acquittal, your whole dossier continues to circulate. Up to the higher courts, down to the lower ones, up again, down. These oscillations and peregrinations, you just can’t figure ‘em.”
    Joseph K: “No use in trying either, I suppose.”
    Titorelli: “Not a hope. Why, I’ve known cases of an acquitted man coming home from the court and finding the cops waiting there to arrest him all over again. But then, of course, theoretically it’s always possible to get another ostensible acquittal.”
    Joseph K: “The second acquittal wouldn’t be final either.”
    Titorelli: “It’s automatically followed by the third arrest. The third acquittal, by the fourth arrest. The fourth . . .”

    SOURCE – link to imdb.com

    ● P.S. YET SOME MORE GOOD TOE TAPPIN’ MUSIC:

    Bobby Bare: “Drop Kick Me Jesus” (Unedited Version) [VIDEO, 02:40] – link to youtube.com

    • LIVE – Bobby Bare: Drop Kick Me Jesus (Through the Goalposts of Life) [VIDEO, 03:21] – link to youtube.com

    • Annie Robbins
      April 2, 2013, 2:03 pm

      brilliant kafka connection dickerson.

      • seafoid
        April 2, 2013, 2:41 pm

        He gets sent to a Jewish prison, doesn’t he? No unit 1391 or whatever it is. No tent in the Negev. No denial of family visits. No torture. Maybe he could talk about that sometime.
        Because he too is privileged within the system of punishment.

  10. Newclench
    April 2, 2013, 6:22 pm

    Good for him! May he be strong and get through this in good health.
    New Profile has been saying that the refusenik movement has been growing for many years. My impression is that it’s actually been a tiny trickle with statistically very small bumps, though one could divide the history of conscript refusal into before/after the 2nd Intifada. Anyone have numbers?

  11. kayq
    April 2, 2013, 6:42 pm

    Congratulations Natan. You are braver than most of the “IDF” soldiers (sorry, did you say IOF extremists) out there.

  12. MK_Ultra
    April 2, 2013, 7:35 pm

    Good for him for standing up for what he believes in. Unfortunately, he is a rare minority and being made an example out of for others to see. And this is how Fascist regime breaks anyone who opposes. Another young man who is very impressive, although not along the same lines, is Miko Pele. His is a very interesting story.

  13. Taxi
    April 3, 2013, 2:39 am

    “While a showcase for the human capacity for violence, Gaza is also an inspiring exemplar of the demand for dignity” – Chomsky.
    link to truth-out.org

  14. HarryLaw
    April 3, 2013, 6:26 am

    @ Hostage, ” There is no obligation whatever for countries under economic siege to join the ICC Assembly of State Parties and pay dues for the privilege of being ignored.”
    I did not say there was, neither is there an obligation to join all the other agencies now open for them to apply to join and which they could play an important part as they are doing now with UNESCO. I don’t remember them saying the reason they are not applying to join the other agencies was because of the financial costs of joining, rather the financial costs to themselves threatened by the US, the Secretary General told Abass not to apply to join these other agencies because of the threat of loss of US contributions, at the time I was of the opinion that the other members would blame the US rather than the Palestinians, I am still of that opinion, the bottom line is if you let the US bully and threaten to stop another state from applying to join other agencies and you succumb to that threat then the blackmailer has won. The point of them possibly being ignored after they have paid their dues is exactly the argument I was making, they are being ignored now, just as Ocampo took 2 years to say no, how long will the new prosecutor take without Abass and Co camping outside her office in the Hague.

    • Hostage
      April 3, 2013, 4:19 pm

      I don’t remember them saying the reason they are not applying to join the other agencies was because of the financial costs of joining, rather the financial costs to themselves threatened by the US, the Secretary General told Abass not to apply to join these other agencies because of the threat of loss of US contributions, at the time I was of the opinion that the other members would blame the US rather than the Palestinians, I am still of that opinion, the bottom line is if you let the US bully and threaten to stop another state from applying to join other agencies and you succumb to that threat then the blackmailer has won.

      Why should Palestine join? Jordan already is an ICC member state. The Prosecutor only needs for one State with territorial jurisdiction to be a party to the Rome Statute. See Abbas, Jordan’s Abdullah sign agreement to defend Jerusalem link to jta.org

      The ICJ noted that the West Bank has been under belligerent occupation ever since 1967 and that nothing since that time has altered its legal status. The Justices advised that it began as an armed conflict between two High Contracting Parties. So the articles on non-renunciation apply. The refugees from the Six Day War have not been repatriated or resettled in accordance with Article 6 of the 4th Convention, so they are still considered internationally protected and displaced persons. Why should Israel be allowed to illegally annex and colonize their territory in violation of article 49(6)? The peace treaty between Jordan and Israel explicitly stated that it does not alter the legal status of any territory that came under Israeli military control in 1967. According to UN Security Council resolutions 73 and 228 the West Bank was Jordanian territory when this occupation began and it has certainly effected the citizens of Jordan.

      Both Palestine and Jordan have accepted the jurisdiction of the ICC. There can be no doubt that crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court have been committed.

      The American Service-Members’ Protection Act and other statutes have always strictly prohibited the US government from spending one penny of appropriated funds on the ICC or extradition of criminals for trial by the ICC – even in cases where the government itself has referred a situation to the Court through the UN Security Council.

      ICC officials have nonetheless catered to the whims of the US and Israel and created a number of legal fictions in order to stall any Palestinian investigation in hopes that the US and Israel will eventually become member states. The hypocrisy rises to the high heavens on both sides. In any event, the odds are that neither the US Senate nor the Knesset will be ratifying the Rome Statute anytime soon.

      Most of the arguments raised in discussions about the situation in Palestine amount to nothing more than thinly disguised legal fictions, e.g. the claim that Palestine’s status at the UN had not yet been decided, despite the fact that the Secretary General had long-since accepted deposits of multilateral treaty instruments from Palestine ratifying agreements that were only open to State parties. Even the legal experts who know better have remained on the sidelines, because they don’t favor ICC involvement in the quagmire of the I-P conflict.

      The formal efforts by Professors Schabas and Dugard to put the question on the agenda of the Court’s Assembly of State Parties was a dismal failure – thanks in large part to the fact that the Palestinian Solidarity Movement is missing in action and only paying lip service to “international law”.
      * link to opiniojuris.org
      * link to humanrightsdoctorate.blogspot.com

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