+972 Magazine's Stories of the Week

Directly In Your Inbox

Analysis News
Visit our Hebrew site, "Local Call" , in partnership with Just Vision.

'God can't hear you': Orthodox draft refuser's first night in prison

Uriel Ferera, who was jailed by the IDF for refusing to serve in the occupation, managed to call his mother after a few days in prison. The following is his experience, in his own words.

By Avi Belcherman

Jailed Orthodox conscientious objector Uriel Ferera managed to call his mother Ruti last Thursday and told her about his first days — in military “Prison 6” — since declaring his refusing to serve in the IDF. Ruti recorded the conversation and uploaded it to the Internet (listen to the Hebrew recording here):

On Sunday night (April 27, 2014) I went into Prison 6 in Atlit. At first, I refused to put on a uniform, and as a result, I was left without clothes aside from underwear, socks and a shirt. I panicked and cried – I felt horrible. I didn’t want to put on a uniform even though they were yelling at me and told me to stop playing around… I couldn’t get up and I was shaking; the only thing I was able to do was to pray and to recite psalms.

They physically dragged me to the [prison] wing, where they left me and pressured me to put on a the uniform. Despite it all, I didn’t stop praying. They also laughed at me and [told me] to stop praying and said god can’t hear me because he’s too busy, and that he won’t get me out of there. It was then that I realized that if they are humiliating a Jewish boy — like them — in such a way, one can only imagine what they do to Palestinian youths in the territories.

To me they’re like robots; they don’t think, they don’t feel, and they even got pleasure out of the fact that I cried that night. There was no point in continuing to argue with them so I put on the uniform…

They only let me bring in religious books. I couldn’t sleep at night. I didn’t have an appetite the next day, nor did I want to shower. I was anxious all day and I studied Torah and prayed all day.

I was only in the isolation wing for a day and a half, and afterward, they transferred me to Company C. [Now] I am passing time by joking with the rest of the guys. We can read newspapers, there’s television and we can listen to music… I took a book from the military library. On the weekends there’s an atmosphere of Shabbat. I read from the Torah and we all sang Shabbat songs in the mess hall.”

My heart goes out to Uriel when I hear his voice in the recording. There’s something hair-raising about listening to him speak. He describes what he’s gone through monotonously and almost with complete disconnect. He’s a young guy, orthodox, in a foreign and threatening environment, all alone, going up against a system that is doing all it can to to humiliate him, to break him. He was stripped of his clothes, exposed and ridiculed. He almost broke.

But little by little, in a place of great darkness, he found within himself the strength to endure. He’s compromised a little, he’s gotten a little stronger; he’s discovering the humanity inside himself and in his surroundings. And from the intensive pressure levied on him, he managed to make political conclusions about the world around him, which it seems are giving him strength in his own struggle.

Read this post in Hebew on +972’s sister site, “Local Call.”

WATCH: IDF to jail Orthodox Jew for refusing to serve in occupation
PHOTOS: Orthodox conscientious objector heads to military prison

Before you go...

A lot of work goes into creating articles like the one you just read. And while we don’t do this for the money, even our model of non-profit, independent journalism has bills to pay.

+972 Magazine is owned by our bloggers and journalists, who are driven by passion and dedication to the causes we cover. But we still need to pay for editing, photography, translation, web design and servers, legal services, and more.

As an independent journalism outlet we aren’t beholden to any outside interests. In order to safeguard that independence voice, we are proud to count you, our readers, as our most important supporters. If each of our readers becomes a supporter of our work, +972 Magazine will remain a strong, independent, and sustainable force helping drive the discourse on Israel/Palestine in the right direction.

Support independent journalism in Israel/Palestine Donate to +972 Magazine today
View article: AAA
Share article
Print article

    * Required


    1. shachalnur

      It sounded like he had to speak in a hurry,in his last sentence he said he was told to stop talking.

      3 1/2 minutes to speak to his family,after being in isolation without clothes ,because he refused to put on a military uniform.

      Be’Ezrat HaShem Uriel will get through the humiliation and (mental) torture.

      The Jewish State of Shame has no chance against Uriel.

      He’ll overcome and his dignity and bravory will be an example for all Jews with a conscience,religious or non-religious.

      Reply to Comment
      • JerryWeiss

        Very true. Uriel is a Jew for peace. May Uriel continue to find light in all of the darkness. We stand in solidarity with you, brother.

        Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        Indeed, he will overcome the civic requirement he has to do national service while living on government welfare and engaging in economically unproductive activities. A brave hero this one is to avoid any duties of a citizen while expecting secular Israelis to protect and subsidize him.

        But don’t worry. Every year more and more Haredim are joining the military and even more are joining the workforce. Your hero’s parasitic lifestyle has an expiration date.

        Reply to Comment
        • shachalnur

          Orthodox Jews rejected Nazism and 1897 Zionism during WW2 and they reject the Jewish State of Shame you created with the help of those that sponsored Nazism.

          About 20 million rejected 1897 Zionist controlled Judaism since 1945.

          And calling Jews “parasites” is not very original,please read “Four and a half years of lies,stupidity and cowardice”by an Austrian with a little moustache ,who was sponsored heavily by Rockefeller and US/British Bankers,for destroying Jewish communities in Europe for his sponsors.

          You can also read “The Iron Wall” and replace “Arabs” by “Jews”,you’ll get the idea since these books were written at the same time and based on the same ideology,sponsored by the same Cabal.

          I’m not sure you are gonna find an Ortodox Jew wishing to be “protected” by you.

          You already “protected” Jews by whipping up anti-Semitism ,and forcing them to move to Israel before and after WW2,and now you’re doing it again in France,Ukraine,the rest of Europe,South America and the US.

          Orthodox Jews see 1897 Zionism as a program to exterminate the Jewish People,and with 2/3 of Judaism already wiped out since 1945 they are probably right.

          Being a secular Jew doesn’t mean you have the right to call Torah Jews or others that reject your non-Jewish ideology,”parasites,expecting subsidies”.

          History will show who the real parasites are and who paid for your racist, paranoid,atheist,non-Jewish State of Hate.

          Reply to Comment
    2. GilGamesh

      oh the humanity!!! being forced to wear a prison uniform, in prison, and the guards yelling at you. and worse still nothing to do but read and watch TV. How can anyone be expected to endure such brutality?

      Reply to Comment
      • Reza Lustig

        And I assume you say this as someone who has been through worse?

        Reply to Comment
        • Jeff

          going to the dentist sounds worse. why are you making this guy into a martyr?

          Reply to Comment
          • shachalnur

            Marathon Man ?

            Reply to Comment
    3. Joel

      Don’t cry in front of your jailers.
      Don’t bicker with your jailers.

      I pity this lonely kid’s naivete.
      I despise the folks that try to make him a hero.

      Reply to Comment
      • shachalnur

        Uriel is a religious Jew, following the Torah, and his conscience.

        He is a Jew showing dignity in the face of uglyness.

        He doesn’t want to be a hero,neither does anyone else.

        It’s 1897 Zionists like you that make him a hero.

        And after your advice on how to submit to uglyness,I wonder who’s lonely and pityfull.

        Reply to Comment
    4. Rab

      Thank God there are secular fryerim who will risk their lives and limb to protect his mom.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Marcos

      Odd. The content on this blog is hardly ever sympathetic with anything remotely Jewish, unless it is to set one group of Jews against another. Hypocrisy my friend.

      Reply to Comment
      • Joel

        It’s not hypocrisy, it’s the 972 Mag ‘Divide and Conquer’ strategem in action.

        Reply to Comment
        • shachalnur

          You both sound like conspiracy theorists.

          Reply to Comment
          • Lisbon Portugal

            Do you know what a conspiracy theory is?

            Reply to Comment
          • shachalnur

            All conspiracy theorists are a mentally ill,untill their ideas become conspiracy fact.

            From that moment on the conspiracy fact finders are criminals that should be locked up in mental institutions.

            Reply to Comment
          • Lisbon Portugal

            Fascinating! That was not the question I asked you. Wanna try again?

            Reply to Comment
          • shachalnur

            not really

            Reply to Comment
          • Lisbon Portugal

            You are and will remain a child-like fool. Off with you!

            Reply to Comment
          • shachalnur

            “Off with the foolish children”.

            Children don’t propagate expulsions,Samson option wet dreams and teach other children how to hate everybody ,including themselves.

            Only desperate futureless old farts do.

            Reply to Comment
          • Lisbon Portugal

            Interesting projection you have there. Tells me much about you.

            Reply to Comment
          • shachalnur

            That was funny ,Sigmund.

            Reply to Comment
      • Piotr Berman

        972mag is consistent is supporting the right to refuse military service and in opposing the punishment of those who refuse. Concerning the “sympathy with anything remotely Jewish”, this is irrelevant here. It may be alien to the way people like Marcos think, but sympathy can stem from actions and experiences, and not from ethnicity and religion (or lack of it), and this is the usual perspective here.

        Reply to Comment
    6. Marcos

      Excuse you? The content here continually makes cynical use of religion to it’s disingenuous benefit. The focus among these pages is to delegitimize all things Israel, and as a result trashes all things Jewish and exalts Islam. Unless of course there is a story behind a religious Jew to exploit or a pro-Israel Christian or Moslem to mock (which has been done here recently). If Mr. Ferera’s practice of Orthodox Judaism is not pertinent as you suggest, why is it mentioned so frequently in this and the original article? If anything is irrelevant, it is your use of ad hominem. Seriously, while the anti-Israel crowd here is shocking in their crudeness, I am relieved that this is the best the opposition can produce.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Leo

      Too many people here pass (harsh) judgements without thinking twice.

      G-d fearing Jews should think twice before forgetting how many human beings were killed and still are being killed.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Click here to load previous comments