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IDF releases conscientious objector after 67 days in prison

Omri Baranes sat in military prison for 67 days for refusing to join the Israeli army.

Conscientious objector Omri Baranes. (Hila Aloni Ohayon)

Conscientious objector Omri Baranes. (Hila Aloni Ohayon)

After spending 67 days in military prison, Israeli conscientious objector Omri Baranes was officially released from IDF service on Thursday. Baranes, from the city of Rosh HaAyin in central Israel, was recognized by an IDF committee as a pacifist and was thus released on conscientious grounds. The conscientious objectors committee originally rejected her request, leading Baranes to refuse to serve in the army and sit in prison.

According to the IDF conscientious objectors who oppose all forms of violence or service in any army are eligible for exemption, as opposed to those who refuse to enlist due to their opposition to a specific army policy — such as the occupation. These kinds of conscientious objectors usually sit for a lengthy period in military prison and are usually released on grounds of unsuitability, as was recently the case with Tair Kaminer, who sat in prison for around 150 days.

“I am very happy that I finally received an exemption from the conscientious objectors committee,” Baranes told +972. “It was a long journey and perhaps I could have avoided it, but now that I am exempted it is all behind me. The first step of not joining the army is over and now I will work through different channels toward peace and equality.”

In her original declaration to the army, Baranes wrote that “bombs and weapons are not the solution to conflicts. War carries the heavy price of victims: our soldiers are killed, as are citizens and residents from both sides. I refuse to be part of an organization that sees things in black and white, which views all the residents of an enemy country as potential enemies, and thus may harm innocent people.”

Yasmin Yablonko, an organizer for conscientious objector organization “Mesarvot,” responded to Baranes’ release:

Omri Baranes’ case clearly shows the army’s twisted worldview toward conscientious objection. Omri may be a pacifist, but the army’s attitude toward pacifism is also twisted. There is an attempt to disconnect conscientious objection from its political context as well as the Israeli reality — a reality of occupation and human rights violations.

This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Carmen

      “I refuse to be part of an organization that sees things in black and white, which views all the residents of an enemy country as potential enemies, and thus may harm innocent people.”

      Are Gaza and the West Bank ‘enemy country’?

      It’s plain to see this young woman is a product of an israeli miseducation. I hope she learns more and will come to see that the real enemy is ignorance and hatred.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Eliza

      Do Israelis really believe that Gaza or the West Bank are ‘enemy countries’?

      When Israel goes to ‘war’ against Gaza, they are engaging in military conflict with people under Israeli occupation, not people from an ‘enemy country’. Israel is obliged, as an occupying power, to act to promote the well-being of those it occupies, not to engage in wholesale slaughter.

      Are Israelis generally that deluded in respect to their occupation of the Palestinian people? Very strange comment from Baranes.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Oriol

      Frankly, Carmen and Eliza, I think you are splitting hairs with her declaration, which on the other hand is of a very general character.
      In any case I celebrate that Omri Baranes is free now.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Hdt

      More brave people like this lady are needed.

      Reply to Comment
    5. David

      If there was no occupation there probably wouldn’t be an enemy country. Alas history will record that decades of humiliation and brutality towards the Palestinians ensured that Israel would be its own worst enemy.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Andrew

      Anyone that thinks there would be peace if Israel suddenly departed from the West Bank unilaterally-and it would be unilateral because Hamas and the PA refuse to negotiate with Israel- is very mistaken. As such Israel needs an army to protect its citizens.
      If this women chooses not to serve in the army, I hope she is going to do civilian national service like many other Israeli Jewish women, and increasing numbers of Israel Arab citizens.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Andi

      If Israel unilaterally withdrew from the West Bank as readers here would like to see-and it would be unilateral as Hamas and the PA refuse to negotiate a bilateral arrangement directly with Israel-can all you Israel critics guarantee that peace will break out? Or will it be like the unilateral Gaza withdrawal-more rocket fire than before? As such Israel needs an army to protect its civilians until both sides reach agreement.

      Moreover Israelis do not regard all “”residents of an enemy country as potential enemies””. We Israeli health workers including myself treat thousands of Palestinian civilians from Gaza and West Bank in our hospitals each year. Baranes has been taken in by her own Leftist propaganda.

      If Baranes chooses to leave the responsibility of protecting her family to others, I hope at least she is going to do civilian national service in a hospital or school, just like thousands of other Israeli Jewish women do for religious and other reasons, and like increasing numbers of Israel Arab men and women who also want to contribute to their country and communities. If not, she is no pacifist. She is a self interested shirker.

      Reply to Comment
    8. R5

      Big smile for the future “human rights” activist! What European church will pay her to tour the capitals of Europe, spreading the gospel of hatred for the wicked State of Israel? So many options! The future is so bright she needs shades. Good thing her progressive foundation fellowship grant check just cashed! Gucci, or Prada?

      Reply to Comment
    9. R5

      Ray: thanks for that! She’s not on any payroll, YET. And realistically she probably won’t end up like Ben White or others who’ve made whole careers out of bashing Israel. My point was about the incentives that exist for ppl to do this sort of thing. I’m glad to clear that up for you.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Carmen

      “We Israeli health workers including myself treat thousands of Palestinian civilians from Gaza and West Bank in our hospitals each year.”

      Are the thousands of Palestinian civilians from Gaza and the West Bank in your hospitals in the first place because they were shot, gassed by the IOF? Do you really want to go there?

      Also, why does Ms. Baranes need to do national service? Don’t you understand that putting on that uniform or being in any way engaged in the IOF is something that can’t be done, on any level? She really frightens you, doesn’t she?

      Reply to Comment
    11. Ben

      People like Kaminer and Baranes are without a doubt the bravest and strongest young people in Israel. These conscientious objectors and the soldiers of Breaking the Silence are doing what is the hardest thing to do in Israeli society. By far. Going against the grain in a huge way. They sacrifice a lot. They are fiercely ostracized. All the rewards are in the opposite direction. No amount of snide claptrap about Prada and Gucci and “careers” masks that fact. The army is worshipped. The army is the first step on the pathway to success. Absolutely the easiest thing to do if you are a typical young man is to go along, join the army, participate in the occupation, make the connections, bathe in your society’s admiration, get out, take the nice trip to Thailand, and move on up. To, oh, yes, careers. Never ever once saw Yehuda Shaul wear Gucci or Prada. He’s always had a decidedly unfashionable appearance. He gives talks and writes books. (Gasp! A career!)

      Just listen and watch. There’s nothing like true authority and nothing is so obvious as the lack of it. Yehuda is the real deal, and great to watch, but I warn you don’t be disappointed, he doesn’t wear Prada ==>
      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JxHE4KrLvj0

      Reply to Comment
    12. Average American

      I don’t know about this one. To be a citizen means you should be willing to do what you can to protect what you have. I’m not proud of all that my country does, but I live here and I like it and I should be willing to do what I can to protect it, for my own life if not for what my military does. I can understand this lady not wanting to support the military, but it seems she should do something.

      Reply to Comment
    13. They try to make it as disagreeable as possible – but from their point of view it’s not a tragedy if such “ideologically borderline case” end up out of the army rather than in it. After all, such people of heart and conscience, if drafted, may squeal on their comrades’ acts of charity to ‘breaking the silence’ and other subversive circles. They’d rather have all, or almost all, of their soldiers properly brainwashed.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Tom Goldberg

      I really don’t see the problem. The PA itself has been advancing the framework of a State of Palestine — which the U.N. General Assembly has embraced.

      So Palestine is a state that’s not a constituent member or a larger (con)federation. That makes it a country by most definitions.

      And I imagine the PA very much would dispute the notion of the State of Palestine being at peace with Israel, as long as the occupation persists.

      So you have two countries, which are not at peace with one another. Is calling them “enemies” really such a stretch?

      Of course, proponents of a one-state solution will dispute this, but why not go with the PA, after all still the widely recognized representative of Palestinian nationhood and statehood?

      Reply to Comment
    15. Tommy Goldberg

      Unsupported premise, Andrew.

      The PA would be ecstatic to negotiate Israel’s FULL withdrawal from the West Bank. (And I imagine even Hamas would be willing to at least entertain such negotiations, perhaps via intermediary.)

      What the PA has been waffling on (sometimes it will talk, often it won’t) is negotiations which are designed to perpetuate temporary measures and/or treat the Green Line as a mere starting point — where Palestine would end up with significantly less than the 22% of historic Palestine that make up Gaza + the West Bank.

      Reply to Comment
    16. Tommy Goldberg

      I’m sorry to have to go there, I really am, but you do appreciate that this is exactly how Serbian conscripts who had no personal beef with their Croatian neighbors rationalized serving in their country’s army during the post-Yugoslav wars, how German conscripts who didn’t much like Hitler rationalized serving in THAT army etc. etc. etc.?

      Reply to Comment
    17. Ben

      R5: People like Baranes are the bravest and strongest young people in Israel. Ditto the soldiers of Breaking the Silence. They are doing what is the hardest thing to do in Israeli society. By far. Going against the grain in a huge way. They sacrifice a lot. They are fiercely ostracized. All the rewards are in the opposite direction. No amount of snide claptrap about Prada and Gucci and “careers” masks that fact. The army is worshipped. The army is the first step on the pathway to success. Absolutely the easiest thing to do if you are a typical young man is to go along, join the army, participate in the occupation, make the connections, bathe in your society’s admiration, move on up. Never ever saw Yehuda Shaul wear Gucci or Prada.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Eliza

      I certainly don’t take any joy in the prospect of Baranes spending another single day in jail. I also have no problem with conscientious objectors – good on her for standing her ground.

      And yes, her declaration (as quoted) is very general. Which is sort of the point, its the very ordinariness of her statement which jars – is the occupation of the Palestinian territories that invisible to ordinary Israelis?

      It would appear the answer is yes. This may be pedantic hair-splitting to you but I doubt that many Palestinians actually living under Israeli occupation would be so blasé.

      Reply to Comment
    19. Robert

      Problem is that in the past it was the Palestinians who brutalised Israelis. Both sides are to blame for the current situation. Until they both are prepared to forgive and forget there will always be conflict and war.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Dana

      Andrew, How would you like it .. if i came to to your house decided that i want half of it>> and then expect YOU to be peaceful about it and “negotiate” ?

      Reply to Comment
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