[ Yair Khilou, is a young activist in several radical left-wing groups, and one of the organisers behind the “letter of the twelfth-graders” (a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Sharon, signed by 62 youths, announcing their refusal to cooperate with the Israeli army’s actions. Click here to read the text of that letter. Yair announced his conscientious objection to military service at the age of 16 and has refused to go through preliminary military medical and psychometric examinations (which most Israelis are obliged to go through at the age of 16 or 17). As a result, the military Conscience Committee refused to examine his case (they insisted that they need to have the results of his medical tests before they can decide on his case!) Two and a half weeks ago he reported at the Tel-Hashomer military compound, where he expected to be arrested for refusing to be enlisted. However, for bureaucratic reasons, he was only arrested yesterday.]
My name is Yair Khilou and I am 18 years old. I have refused to enlist in the army, and will soon be sent to military prison for that. I decided to write this statement before I am imprisoned because I believe that the reasons motivating me in my refusal to enlist in the army are shared by many people.
When I am asked to become part of a large and violent body such as the Israeli army, I should ask in what activities this body is engaged and whom does it serve. My parents, teachers and peers might answer that the army of the state is necessary to preserve my own security and the security of the citizens of the State of Israel. I desire very much that there will be security for the citizens of Israel and for me.
And still, I find this answer to be unsatisfactory. I fail to understand how does that pure Jewish space, which the State of Israel persistently tries to create by force since its establishment increases our security. I fail to understand how the repression of the Palestinian resistance to Israel by means of state terror–more cruel and of wider scale even than the counter terror which it provokes–serves the society that I am part of. How does the activity of the state, implemented through the army, can benefit me and those I care for?
The ‘sterile’ Jewish space created by the State of Israel is a ghetto for its Jewish residents as well. It prevents them from integrating into the Middle East. Nobody is safe in this space–neither Jews nor Arabs. Still, my opponents might claim, the State of Israel is a democracy and its army is the people’s army. I wonder where these people live. I have no ability to affect the actions of the army, although my friends and I definitely try. I am unable to stop war, unemployment, inequalities.
The vast majority of Israeli citizens wish to change this state of affairs. And still, the state does everything to block peace, welfare and equality. Mysteriously, everything ends up serving the interests of capitalists and generals.
The Israeli military men and capitalists, together with their Palestinian peers, do everything they can to remain in power. Their mass media and educational system spread vicious nationalistic propaganda, hatred and fear. Thus they divide and rule us. They incite against each other Arabs and Jews, East and West, while they continue to reign. These are our real enemies, preventing us from attaining physical and economical security. Against them Arabs and Jews should stand together.
I am not willing to accept such a reality. I am all the more unwilling to contribute to its continuation and fortification by serving in the Israeli army or in any other terrorist organisation.