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Israeli conscientious objector heads to prison for record ninth time

Israeli conscientious objector Natan Blanc, 19, was sentenced to prison for the ninth time on Thursday, tying the record number of times an Israeli who has refused to serve in the Israel Defense Forces has been put on trial.

According to Amira Hass’ last report on Blanc a few weeks ago in Haaretz:

Over the last decade, the IDF largely refrained from repeatedly putting conscientious objectors on trial. Until now the record was nine trials, which took place eight years ago, and the IDF preferred to release them after shorter prison sentences due to their unsuitability (in order to prevent a media frenzy over the trial, as took place six years ago in 2003).

In 2003, +972’s Haggai Matar was one of the five refuseniks who made headlines for publicly refusing to serve in the IDF. As far as I am aware, Haggai holds the record for the Israeli who spent the most time in jail for conscientious objection: a total of two years (not consecutively, but in and out, like Blanc).

With this ninth sentencing, Blanc has reportedly met the record for having been through the most trials.

Blanc, who first refused to serve in the IDF last November 2012, was sentenced to 20 days in prison this time around, after having just spent 14 days in prison for his last sentencing on April 2. That brings the total number of days he will have spent in jail to 150.

You can read Blanc’s statement on his refusal here.

Draft resister sent back to prison: Eight sentences, 130 days
Lesson from Israeli who chose jail, solidarity over segregation
Are Israel’s refusers modern day heroes?

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    1. A man of far greater resolve and courage than I ever was. He has said he would agree to alternative service, if it existed. His stand is not anti-Israel, but anti-structural violence. His actions are patriotic at the core, accepting punishment for what he sees as an ill law. In his camp: Henry David Thoreau, Jesus of Nazareth, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and many others unsung.

      Emerson went to Thoreau while the latter was in prison for refusing to pay his taxes during the Mexican-American War.
      Emerson: “Henry, how can you be in there?”
      Thoreau: “Ralph, how can you be out there?”

      Reply to Comment
    2. XYZ

      Jesus represents peace? Are Christians, those who follow his teachings, traditionally pacifists?

      Gandhi, the antisemite whose “non-violence” philosophy helped set up the rupture of India and the death of a million people and the uprooting of millions more?

      Thoreau-whose sitting in jail and refusal to pay taxes did nothing to stop the war. When I lasted checked, California, Arizona and New Mexico, the lands conquered by the Americans in that war, are still part of the US.

      Reply to Comment
      • XYZ, I was speaking directly to Blanc. I know that’s not the way the rules work here, but that is what I was doing.

        Reply to Comment
    3. XYZ

      I do not want to leave the impression that I think Thoreau and Gandhi were bad people. I do repsect their courage (although I condemn Gandhi’s antisemitism) but I believe their policies were mistaken or even destructive. Abraham Lincoln, like Thoreau strongly opposed the Mexican War and slavery, but he was certainly no pacifist and it was his policies that finally ended slavery, not Thoreau’s.

      Regarding Blanc-I can’t understand why the IDF is wasting its time and resources with him, why can’t they let him do national service?

      Reply to Comment
      • HR in the IDF

        While I fully support the idea of civil service, I’d say the IDF’s higher ups reasoning is that giving that option will cause many people to lazy out and lie saying they’re “pacifist” to avoid hard service.

        Reply to Comment
        • If standard conscription is X years, make alternative service X + 1 years; this will keep quite a few “lazys” away, still allowing those with a moral aversion to military service a legal way to show their resolve, other than accepted punishment.

          Reply to Comment
      • There is no national service in law; the Knesset would have to begin such.

        Once again, XYZ, a stragegy need not be global to be effective. Evolutionary theory and general game theory are repleate with strategies not exhibited by all which are nonetheless effective. The statement “if everyone where a Thoreau [Gandhi]” is meaningless. COs refusing military service can act as indicators that what the military is doing is suspect; they may be wrong, but so too may be the military.

        As Christians are not collectively Jesus, Israel is not collectively Judaism. If the Gospel of Mark is at all true, Jesus seems to have allowed his arrest to prevent a brutal reaction by authority the next day or so.

        Lincoln, like most men of his age and today, expended men for principle. He had no wish to end slavery upon his election; the issue was forced by the South.

        Gandhi tried to give the first Premiership to a Muslim; his own faction refused him. He is hardly responsible for the partition (but nor was he always right, as he would likely say). Gandhi was about as anti-Semitic as he was anti-Christian. Look it up.

        Reply to Comment
    4. Mark Turpin

      I don’t think Natan claims to be a pacifist – it is more that he is opposed to this particular war/occupation. A very brave young man – I salute him.

      Reply to Comment