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J'accuse: Israeli youth headed to prison for refusing the draft

Noam Gur was just another teenage girl from the northern town of Nahariya. She grew up in a family that was not politically involved, went to the same school as everyone else, and still doesn’t understand why she’s the only one who sees what her peers are missing. In a month’s time she will refuse to enlist in the Israeli army because of the occupation, and will most likely be imprisoned. An interview.

For years I have been told that the control over the Palestinian people is supposed to protect me, but information about the suffering caused due to the terrorizing of the Palestinian population was omitted from that story. The road to dismantling this apartheid and achieving true and just peace is long, and hard, but as I see it, actions taken by the Israeli army only push it further away. Over this past decade, the Palestinian people have been increasingly choosing the path of nonviolent resistance, and I choose to join this path and to turn to a popular, nonviolent struggle in Palestine, rather than to serve in the Israeli army and continue the violence.

These words were recently put down by Noam Gur, 18, as a kind of “imprisonment statement,” which is now beginning to be circulated in mailing lists and social networks in Hebrew, Arabic and English. A couple of week ago, Gur was informed that her request to obtain conscientious objector status from the relevant military committee was scrapped, and that she is obliged to report for mandatory service on April 16. On that day, she intends to refuse the draft, at which point she will most likely be sentenced immediately to between two and four weeks in military prison, at the end of which she will be forced to refuse again, sent back to prison, and so on for a couple of months. After that, she will probably be released on a mental health clause, as most conscientious objectors have been in recent years.

Noam Gur and her letter to the army (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

Noam Gur and her letter to the army (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

‘I refuse to support a long and preventable cycle of violence’

“My family was never politically active or anything, both my parents went to the army, and my older sister served in the Border Police. I grew up seeing myself as a devoted Zionist-leftist, the kind that believes in human rights and in the possibility of maintaining an ‘enlightened occupation’ without harming anyone,” Gur told me. “I have no idea how I drifted so far away from most of my friends. From a very young age I remember having soldiers in school and day trips to military camps (a regular part of Israeli school system curriculum, H.M.), and it was supposed to be obvious that everybody goes to the army – no question about it. I remember that even before I learned anything about the occupation I thought it was weird and somewhat fucked up that you can’t even raise questions on the notion of the mandatory draft.”

The apparent natural inclination to challenge the obvious got Gur searching for materials on the Palestinian Nakba, and then Palestinian and Israeli soldiers’ testimonies about life under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza. By 16, she knew she wouldn’t enlist due to what she defines in her statement as “population-transfer, murder of non-violent demonstrators, the apartheid wall, the massacre operations that the Israeli army chooses to carry out, and the rest of the daily violations of the human rights of the Palestinians, [which] have led, and continue to lead, to a long, indefinite, and preventable cycle of bloodshed.”

“It took a while before I broke my decision to my mother, and my high school friends know where I stand, but it’s not something I talk about too much,” says Gur. “I go to West Bank demonstrations occasionally, but I’m not active with any specific group. I was actually really hoping to obtain the CO status, and was surprised when they refused to even see me.”

Demonstration in support of women conscientious objectors, 2007 (Haggai Matar)

Demonstration in support of women conscientious objectors, 2007 (Haggai Matar)

‘Israeli crimes are out of public sight’

IDF regulations specify the conditions under which a would-be recruit may be found eligible for conscientious objector status. These focus mainly on the demand that the refusal to join the army would be “generally pacifist,” that is – a refusal to partake in any and all sorts of violence, not only those by the Israeli army. That is why Gur stressed broader issues than just the occupation in her letter to military authorities; she wrote of the chauvinism and sexism inherent in armies throughout the world, of the tendency to solve political problems with the use of arms and of the way armies enhance national divisions between people. Gur also wrote that experiencing the Second Lebanon War and the 2008-9 attack on Gaza as a teenager had a deep influence on her life, and strengthened her belief in non-violence. However, the army rejected her petition, and the road to prison was laid out.

“I actually think prison is not going to be too bad. After all – it’s just a couple of months,” Gur estimates. While the first decade of the third millennium was dotted with refusal movements in Israel, in recent years these have slowly fallen off the map, and aside from the random reserve-soldier-turned-CO – Gur is the first draft objector to go prison in quite some time (full disclosure: I myself refused the draft in 2002 with several friends, and spent two years in prison). “The political reality has changed since the large refusal initiatives. At the time people, were refusing when Israeli crimes were plain to see – during the Intifada and the wars on Lebanon and Gaza. Now the same crimes are out of public sight. However I’m glad to say that while I’m going to prison by myself, I’ve had a lot of support in recent days, mainly from abroad and from Palestinians, and that means a lot.

"The real criminal are outside" sprayed on military prison walls, 2008 (Haggai Matar)

'The real criminal are outside' sprayed on military prison walls, 2008 (Haggai Matar)

“I know my refusal won’t end the occupation or change the world, but perhaps it’ll have some small effect on even a single person or two. Perhaps more Palestinians will hear of it and will be happy to see that not all Israelis are the criminals at the checkpoint or the soldiers shooting tears gas canisters at them in demonstrations. But general goals aside, I just want to feel right about myself. I want to know that I did all that I could, and that I did try to make a difference – or at least that I was not a partner in crime.”

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Joe

      Sounds like a Catch-22, can’t refuse to join the army and claim CO status, but if you do refuse you are obviously mental.

      Reply to Comment
    2. directrob

      Noam Gur, Israel needs more people like you, my utmost respect!
      .
      I myself refused the draft a long time ago in another country and another time.
      .
      It is remarkable how much the law looks similar. After writing my request I had to do two formal interviews (it took several months). My first letter looked much like yours. I learned that anger with what your government does is an honest emotion but not relevant to be approved. In my country only the part “… experiencing the Second Lebanon War and the 2008-9 attack on Gaza as a teenager had a deep influence on her life, and strengthened her belief in non-violence….” would have been relevant. I think in my time you would have not have been immediately approved in my country. During an interview you would have been grilled about what emotion is strongest, after which you would be approved.
      .
      I do not know how it is in Israel and whether it is relevant at all, but in my time it was about how you became a pacifist not about everything that is wrong with the Israeli attack forces. That part can better be published in this blog. That being said I think there are enough reasons not to join the IDF even if you are not a pacifist.

      Reply to Comment
    3. sh

      Just want to salute your courage, Noam Gur, and to wish you well. I hope Haggai will update on your progress from time to time.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Bill Pearlman

      He classmates go, she sits it out in safety and judges them. Interesting.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Bill Pearlman

      Her

      Reply to Comment
    6. Jalal

      My absolute respect to you, Noam Gur.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Joe

      Yeah, Bill, the old coward lie.

      In times past Conscientious Objectors volunteered to starve themselves for an experiment to prove they were not cowards but actually believed in what they said.

      Be nice if we didn’t have to go back to that point.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Bill Pearlman

      Joe, you can spin this however you want. But the fact is that her high school friends are going. She isn’t. She could have requested national service or duty on the border, not the territiories. She isn’t doing that. Don’t make this geopolitical. She is turning her back on the rest of the 18 year olds who are getting drafted,

      Reply to Comment
    9. Noam

      Bill, please know the facts – I can’t ask for a civil service until my official release. plus, serving inside the green line is still wrong.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Bill Pearlman

      Fair enough. And I’m actually not looking to give you grief here. And I’m not talking about the big political picture. To me this is a street thing. Your letting down your friends. The “crew” has we say in NY. Not something to celebrate.

      Reply to Comment
    11. AIG

      Noam,

      Why is serving inside the green line as a jobnik wrong? If that is wrong, then just living in Israel is wrong because a large percentage of your taxes go to support the IDF. I think, you are going a little too far since I assume that you still support the state of Israel and want to change it for the better, not get rid of it (I make this assumption since you do not say you plan to leave Israel).

      Reply to Comment
    12. dear everyone,
      noam gur is a someone who pursues peace.
      this is never a popular job.
      not for amos or micah, who wrote that torah goes forth from zion. (not just now)
      she joins grace paley as a woman of valor.
      buber might admire her as he did bertha papenheim.
      bialik wrote (from the Blessing of the nation 1894)boh-oo shechem echad l’ezrat ha-am—-
      and she is there.
      shale brownstein (applied for co in 1969 in midst of vietnam war)

      Reply to Comment
    13. Bill Pearlman

      She’s a kid, she doesn’t pay taxes yet. Look, I think she owes a loyalty here. And I’m perfectly aware that every army has idiotic jobs, the IDF included. And the combat arms aren’t going to be short because she took a walk. But a loyalty. Not to the country even. But to the neighbors, to the kids down the block. If she walks then others have to do more. ( And I know the haredi situation is absurd ) That’s all.

      Reply to Comment
    14. AIG

      Bill,

      Israel has a VAT tax. She supports the IDF when she buys anything.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Bill Pearlman

      point taken

      Reply to Comment
    16. Bill, if your friends are getting sucked into something that’s wrong, it’s not a sign of friendship to go against your conscience and join in with them just because they’re your friends. That’s not friendship, that’s just peer pressure.
      .
      Noam has demonstrated her loyalty to the kids down the block by showing through her example that it is possible to make a different choice, a pretty significant thing to do in such a heavily militarised culture. She’s also demonstrating loyalty to kids on other blocks, this time in Nablus and Bethlehem and Khan Younis. She is showing all of them that she respects their right to live with freedom, and that’s a better form of loyalty than blind obedience to a conscript army. Kol hakavod, Noam.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Bill Pearlman

      No, its not peer pressure, its called loyalty. I know in this day and age that’s not seen has a virtue but it was when I was her age.

      Look, Nahariya lives under the protection that the IDF provides. She may not like how its done. She may not like that’s it done at all. For all I know she may be willing to sacrifice the lives of her family. But it still comes back to this for me. She is taking a walk. Other kids aren’t. That’s a inequity that you can’t spin away with utopian language.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Piotr Berman

      “she sits it out in safety and judges them.”

      Since IDF specializes in war on villagers, and in killing from large safe distance, her friends are not that much in danger.

      Reply to Comment
    19. Bill Pearlman

      Not often that you run across a direct descendant of Vlasov. Why don’t you go back to the the vodka.

      Reply to Comment
    20. ruth

      I think you are being used. You are being embraced as a poster child by the anti-Israel crowd. Just read your interview on some anti-zionist blog. You will have your 15 minutes of fame and then what. Are you going to convert like Tali ? Who wrote your refusal letter ? Such a load of robotic slogans. Yawn. I am not impressed.

      Reply to Comment
    21. XYZ

      I am sorry, but all I am seeing here is political propaganda. The decision to go to prison for a belief is a very personal one and no doubt involves a lot of soul-searching. However, in the statement Noam makes she simply spews out anti-Zionist propaganda which I think she doesn’t even really understand:
      ———————————————-
      “population-transfer, murder of non-violent demonstrators, the apartheid wall, the massacre operations that the Israeli army chooses to carry out, and the rest of the daily violations of the human rights of the Palestinians (which) have led, and continue to lead, to a long, indefinite, and preventable cycle of bloodshed.”
      ———————————————-
      Did she suddenly come to the realization that, according to her ‘population transfer’ claim that the whole state of Israel is supposedly one gigantic criminal enterprise? Does she realize the Arabs started the war with jihadistic intent to wipe out the Jewish yishuv which is what led to the refugee problem? Does she have any understanding of the history of the Arab/Israeli conflict or is she simply being a conduit for someone else’s cheap propagand line. I could go on and on. Seems to me that she is being manipulated and any real pangs of concience she is having are being subsumed by blatant political manipulation.

      Regarding Mr Matar-I would like to understand what he means by being involved in “class-based struggles” in Israeli society. Is this some sort of renaissance of Marxist/Bolshevik “class struggle” in which we are supposed to see people who are better off as some sort enemy that has to be eradicated? What if a wealthy man wants to support the ‘peace camp’ – does Mattar say they shouldn’t accept his support? Is it right to classify people by what group they supposedly belong to?
      All I am seeing here is shallow political propaganda. I would think that Mattar, after being willing to spend two years in prison as a matter of concience would be able to give us rather more profound views of things.

      Reply to Comment
    22. Joe

      Bill, the truth is the truth. Loyalty is worth nothing compared to the truth.

      It is better for Noam to follow her conscience than the crowd, even if it turns out that she was wrong – because she’ll at least be able to work out for herself why it was wrong if she sticks to her principles. If she capitulates, she will never be able to tell whether she was right or not, she’ll just be doing something because of some ‘loyalty’ that others told her she should have.

      Reply to Comment
    23. Noam

      Bill,
      Let’s talk about this for a sec. You say I’m turning my back on my friends. fair enough. But on the same note you ask me to turn my back, and to HARM, my other friends – Palestinians from both sides of “the green line”. why is that ok?
      look, at the end, I really don’t care. I’m not turning my back on anyone, I’m doing what I FEEL is right. and if you wanna jail me for this – i say OK, bring it on.

      Reply to Comment
    24. Dregen Jelencovich

      You’ve probably no need for my support, but nonetheless, you have all my support and all my respect, Noam.

      Kol Hakavod to you.

      Reply to Comment
    25. ashley sjodin

      …when it all comes down to it, we must do what will make us able to stand in front of God without shame…we have a lifetime to make mistakes, but only a limited chance to say “no” before we make them…do what YOU feel is right and rightous…Thank you young lady!

      Reply to Comment
    26. Bill Pearlman

      Noam:
      Unless your willing to sit out the entire term of service in prison then your getting away with something that your classmates aren’t. You can’t argue that. ( and yes I know plenty of other people are dodging and your probably thinking that if people like Bar Rafieli doesn’t have to do this why should I ) But let me get big picture here for a second. Do you really believe that the army and the police serve no purpose whatever? Or even more are a detriment to the country?

      Reply to Comment
    27. The people who criticise Noam’s choice here are making the assumption that somebody else must have written the letter for her and somebody else must be ‘using’ her – either that or she just doesn’t realise the truth of history. She grew up in an Israeli school following the Israeli curriculum. In 2000, Yossi Sarid’s suggestion that two Mahmoud Darwish poems be included in the curriculum led to a vote of no confidence that the Barak government only narrowly survived. Today the word Nakba isn’t mentioned in any textbook, and teachers can be penalised for talking about the topic. This is the educational climate in which Noam has grown up, so I think she’ll know the Israeli government’s portrayal of regional history pretty well. She will also be familiar with the heavily militarised triptych of commemoration and celebration in summer – Yom HaShoah, Yom HaZikaron, Yom Ha’Atzmaut, all of them distinguished by a strong focus on the army. She says in her article that she went on the requisite school trips to military camps. In short, she grew up with the idea of conscription as the norm. One of the refuseniks of 2009 (I think Netta Wynd) once said, “This is not a question in Israel – it’s obvious that you’re going to the army…” Generations of young people have been raised and educated to believe that military service is as natural as puberty, something that just happens – and the one who refuses to accept this is the one being used?

      Reply to Comment
    28. joe

      Bill – “But let me get big picture here for a second. Do you really believe that the army and the police serve no purpose whatever? Or even more are a detriment to the country?”

      Ayes to the right, nays to the left..

      I vote nay.

      Reply to Comment
    29. Joe

      Bill, Noam is willingly taking the punishment like an enlightened and grown-up citizen. She is not running away, she is not dodging anything. She’d rather feel the scorn of her classmates and the wrath of her judicial system than participate in a wrong. Only a fool would see this as anything other than a principled position.

      Reply to Comment
    30. Jogortha

      It’s very easy to post a derogatory comment on an internet website about this girl, it’s not so easy to be a dissenter going against the mainstream of one’s society.

      Reply to Comment
    31. Idit

      right on. wish I did that at the time.

      Reply to Comment
    32. Steve

      It’s funny seeing the extreme-left celebrate everyone on Earth who “refuses” to help Israel.
      .
      Yet the extreme-left doesn’t celebrate people who are against Palestinian terrorism against Israel.
      .
      Wild stuff.

      Reply to Comment
    33. Shimon

      Oh, Noam. Such brave girl. Please take us back to the times when we, as a nation, didn’t have soldiers or army at all. Oh, wait. Please don’t. And also, may I have your history teacher phone number? I think we should talk…

      Reply to Comment
    34. XYZ

      Vicky-
      I definitely believe Noam is “being used” because the statement she put out was simply a regurgitation of the usual anti-Zionist propaganda put out by the Israel-bashing community. No nuance. No historical background, nothing. Had she said “I don’t want to serve because I oppose the occupation and I oppose Israel ruling another people” I could understand, although I wouldn’t agree. But to include a shopping list of supposed crimes including the very creation of Israel using jargon spewed out by the extremists, like the one I copied from her statement , makes me question what she really knows. The fact that the large majority of Israelis support the system we have does NOT mean they are all STUPID. It means they have a good memory of what has happend here and to Jews elsewhere during the last century and more.

      Reply to Comment
    35. PAVO

      Is there anything NORMAL??? on 18years old girl being forced in 21st century world of rather peace-world by her likely developed country to joint army services….?
      Shouldn´t she be just looking after her studies..just starting happy adult live..job…boys…or happiness in general….?

      Reply to Comment
    36. I want to congratulate Noam on her courageous stand.

      Further comments. Authentic loyalty is having the character to sustain a path toward a moral goal. It never has anything to do with doing what the majority does.

      Resorting to a military action never results in greater peace and value for people. Resorting to a military action is always a sign of people succumbing to us versus them. So the idea that a person has an obligation to serve in a military to deserve to live in a territory is irrational. Humans have free will, and if a person, or person’s, want to believe that military forces are viable ways to obtain collective objectives so be it. But to claim that everyone has an obligation to go along with that view is sheer fascism.

      Reply to Comment
    37. XYZ, in 2011 the Civil Administration revealed plans to forcibly remove all the Bedouin residents of West Bank Area C, some 27,000 people. The first phase of the plan will see the Bedouin of Khan al-Ahmar being relocated to a rubbish dump near Abu Dis, where they are expected to live in old shipping containers. This is to make room for the expansion of Ma’ale Adumim and Kfar Adumim. The second phase of the plan will see the Bedouin being taken from their homes in the Jordan Valley and resettled near Jericho, in Area A. This is a recent example of the occupation policy that soldiers of Noam’s age will be expected to enact, and what is it if not population transfer? For each of the terms that Noam uses in her letter, there are examples, both current and historical. She is writing a simple statement of refusal, not a history textbook; the info on which she has based her choice is out there for anybody who wants it.
      .
      I don’t see allowing yourself to be conscripted into the army as a sign of stupidity, more a sign of taking things for granted. Everybody does that, no matter where they are in the world. For a four-year-old who is accustomed to seeing rifle-carrying soldiers in the queue at McDonald’s, this is just the way things are, and one day he’ll grow up to be a soldier too. In her statement Noam writes that she believes non-violence is the best way to reach peace, and this means refusing to accept the way things stand now.
      .
      Responding to her decision not to pick up a gun by invoking the Holocaust, as though the only way to beat off imminent destruction is to go out and forcibly remove the people of Khan al-Ahmar to the Abu Dis rubbish dump, is a sign of the societal pressure that kids who refuse are under. When they refuse to participate in something harmful, the guilt is piled on them: don’t you know that you’re compromising our safety? Living with that level of stigma is not easy. Finding a job after refusal can also be hard, with no service dates to put on your applications. This is not a decision that anybody enters into lightly, because the social pressure is immense and the social consequences are tough. You might disagree with Noam, but I don’t think it’s possible to argue that she hasn’t thought this through.

      Reply to Comment
    38. Dhalgren

      I applaud Noam’s courage. In the long term, she is fighting far more effectively for Israel’s future than her compatriots.
      -
      I also applaud Vicky for her comments. They are always a breath of fresh air, and by fresh air, I mean reason and compassion.

      Reply to Comment
    39. AIG

      Vicky,
      “non-violence is the best way to reach peace”
      Of course, that is how Hitler was subdued.

      Do you really believe in this?

      Israel is in a much better position than the Palestinians because of our abilities (organizational and technological) to inflict harm on those that would hurt us. I wish we did not need the IDF, but we live in a harsh neighborhood. And even if the IDF is used sometimes in ways you do not approve, its main function is the protection of Israel’s citizens and it is an important institution to have.

      Reply to Comment
    40. directrob

      Forget about Israeli law and pacifism. I think every Israeli should think twice before joining an army that is guilty of crimes against humanity (for example torture in case of necessity) and is in general ignoring human rights and is at odds with international law. As those things are a state and IDF policy is it really enough to be a good soldier and “refuse some orders” and “change the organization from the inside”??.

      Reply to Comment
    41. AIG,
      I’m often asked about Hitler. I’ll quote something I wrote on that very subject a couple of days ago (about a film installation dealing with the Nazi euthanasia program against disabled people):
      .
      “A few weeks ago someone asked me the question that always surfaces about pacifism: ‘How does a pacifist deal with people like Hitler?’ I talked about the terrible suffering that Germany had undergone during the Great Depression, not helped by the punitive effects of Versailles. Hitler exploited these things during his rise to power, and it is doubtful that he would ever have succeeded if he hadn’t been able to feed on public desperation. If hundreds of thousands of people had gone into the Weimar Republic with bread-baskets, would there have been any need to send in hundreds of thousands of people with guns later on? Non-violence means responding to poverty and despair, in an effort to prevent people from becoming brutalised. It also means remaining attentive to the warning signs of greater violence, and one of these signs is the cultivation of sheer contempt for vulnerability.”
      .
      The creator of the film has argued that if people had responded to that contempt for weakness and disability when they saw it manifested in 1939 with the beginning of the T4 program, the mass murder machine of the ’40s could have been halted. I agree with her. Non-violence means you have to watch the warning signs, the situations that are likely to give rise to killing, and you move to help the people in those situations irrespective of who they are. That didn’t happen in prewar Germany.
      .
      During the Second Intifada, my host family’s house used to be requisitioned by the army at night. They would all be herded into the corner of one room while the soldiers shot from the windows. Some of the soldiers were vicious and abusive, both physically and verbally. Others tried, in an awkward way, to be kind. During one long curfew, the family ran out of food. The soldiers used to eat in front of them when they came into the house at night, which made the hunger harder to bear. In the end one soldier secretly gave six-year-old Daniel a slice of pizza. My landlady mentions him sometimes. She wonders what he’s doing now, if he ever remembers them. He wasn’t a cruel person. But he took part in a very cruel thing that has left Daniel and his siblings traumatised (and I mean that in the serious medical sense of the word). It is a relentless government policy that did this to them, not a few bad soldiers, and it protects nobody. Hemmed in on all sides by the wall, and adjacent to the army base, Rachel’s Tomb area remains a rough neighbourhood to live in – my landlady’s store and her husband’s car repair workshop had to close when the wall went up, and now they struggle to cope financially.
      .
      To solve this problem, we need more than one unfortunate kid offering a slice of pizza to a younger kid. We need to dismantle the system that has put both children in that position. Noam has done what she can by walking out on it. My landlady does what she can through her own commitment to non-violence. A few months ago, this meant welcoming a friend of mine to stay with us – a friend who happens to be a serving soldier. The last time Claire had Israelis in her house, they were ordering her children out of bed at gunpoint. Now she had one as a guest in her sitting room, although she did tell me afterwards, “You shouldn’t have brought him. They will hurt him if they find out he has been here. We must pray for him to be safe.” This is how her teenagers are growing up to think – teenagers who used to wake up to the sound of shooting and broken glass and soldiers yelling at them. Between them and Noam, I think the place is safer than it was.

      Reply to Comment
    42. AIG

      Vicky,

      You are not only a pacifist, but a pacifist that believes that humans have the foresight to know which situations will lead in the future to violence and have the will and ability to respond in time. What can I say except that you hold a very lonely position because history has shown time and again that human beings are not only prone to violence for no good reason but also prone to stupidity and inaction in the face of evil. And as for our ability to foresee the future…

      But I’ll make a deal with you. As soon as the Europeans or Americans will dismantle their armies, I will consider dismantling the IDF. You know, lead by example and show that what you propose works in your own country.

      Reply to Comment
    43. Joe

      AIG, non-violence was tried in Nazi Germany and it worked as far as it went. For example the Rosenstrasse protest – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosenstrasse_protest

      Following WW1, Quakers went to Germany and provided emergency relief when nobody else would go. As a result a very small group were allowed to go to Germany in the 1930s to rescue Jews.

      The fact that these were small and episodic does not discount the possibility that Soul Force might have been able to overpower the Nazi regime had others tried it – we’ll never know because other than a few brave examples, nobody tried.

      The IDF is a force of oppression. Palestinian violence is highly misguided and should not be underplayed, but is nothing compared to military control. There may well be good people within the IDF working for noble ends, but the whole structure is corrupt, and as such will not last because it is unjust.

      Reply to Comment
    44. AIG

      Joe,

      Why don’t you show us your method works? Please show me “Soul Force” working against Assad. You have so many opportunities in the world to show how your “method” works, yet all I see are failures.

      The IDF is a great institution and a very just one as it keeps my children safe.

      Reply to Comment
    45. joe

      AIG – this is the tragic part of the logic, the IDF is not keeping your children safe, because you can never be truly safe whilst others are oppressed by your military.

      I’ve given some examples, there are many others. Unfortunately you’ll probably ignore those too – despite all the evidence that violence *never* works, it seems to be down to those who believe in non-violence to prove a case beyond that which is needed to believe in violence.

      Reply to Comment
    46. Dhalgren

      AIG,
      You are actually being rather disrespectful of other people’s arguments by using such fallacious argumentation. Arguing that the IDF shouldn’t be dismantled is a clear “straw man,” as neither Joe nor Vicky actually proposed that. Also, I find it very difficult to believe that you are unaware of any examples of successful nonviolent resistance. You are simply “arguing from ignorance” on that issue. I will just mention the Arab Spring. You can look up “nonviolent resistance” on Wikipedia for others. I highly recommend looking up “fallacy” too. Seriously, your comments are full of them.

      Reply to Comment
    47. AIG

      DHALGREN,

      Joe writes:
      “The IDF is a force of oppression”
      Obviously, if Joe thinks the IDF is a force of oppression it means he wants it dismantled. Joe himself did not say otherwise because he is a pacifist, and believe all armies are not required, including the IDF.

      Vicky is even more clear and writes:
      “We need to dismantle the system that has put both children in that position. Noam has done what she can by walking out on it.”
      Clearly she wants to dismantle the IDF.

      As for the Arab Spring being non-violent, perhaps I don’t understand you. Except for Tunisia it is quite violent. Egypt is still controlled by the army. Libya was very violent and Syria is very violent. So how can you say it is an example of non-violence succeeding? Non-violence works in a small number of very specific cases, it is not a panacea.

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    48. joe

      I agree with AIG, I do think the IDF is too corrupt to be reformed.

      Reply to Comment
    49. Leonid Levin

      Respect and lots of strength to Noam.

      Reply to Comment
    50. Dhalgren

      AIG,
      Your logic is flawed. It does not necessarily follow from the arguments you present that Joe and Vicky must support the dismantling of the IDF. Granted, Joe has gone on to argue for that more specifically (a rather extreme position, in my opinion). As for mentioning the Arab Spring as an example of nonviolent resistance, I was indeed referring to Tunisia and to a lesser extent Egypt (i.e. the protests leading to Mubarak’s ouster), not Libya or Syria. I am not suggesting that nonviolence is a panacea. I think it is used far too rarely, however. I think in Syria it would be more effective than violent resistance, which has allowed the Syrian government to portray the rebels in such a way as to justify crackdowns.

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