FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Why We Refuse to Fight

Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip can in no way be considered democratic. It oppresses 3.5 million people, denying them their basic human rights. My refusal to militarily participate in this occupation, on the other hand, is most certainly a democratic act.

It exercises my right to protest, as I strive to hold on to the values of justice and peace, and it sends a message to my government that it cannot use me as a tool for attaining every goal it decides upon. In doing so I am fulfilling my obligations as a moral citizen of the world. Every man and woman must decide where the boundaries of conscience lie, and my conscience does not permit me to fight today in the occupied territories.

The refusal of the 435 signatories to the “Courage to Refuse” letter, is a refusal to fight for continuation of the occupation, or, more precisely, for continuation of the settlements. It is a refusal to fight in a war of choice fueled by an extremist messianic ideology.

Make no mistake, Israel has no other reason for remaining in the occupied territories than to preserve the existing settlements, even when they are deep within Palestinian centers of population. Maybe the Palestinians are not interested in peace – one of the most commonly heard justifications for our recent invasions – and truly want to push us into the sea. Even then, we would be much better off defending ourselves from the 1967 borders rather than from inside the narrow alleys of Jenin, Ramallah and Bethlehem. This is why I think that the occupation runs against the most basic interests of the state of Israel, even to the extent of threatening its very existence.

As a concerned and involved citizen in a democratic regime, I see it as my right and duty to do all I can to save my country, the country I am willing to die for, from this dizzy descent into violence and mayhem.

This kind of struggle is not one to wage alone, and so when I heard that a group of reserve officers were organizing with the intention of publishing an open letter stating their categorical refusal to don their uniforms in the service of the occupation, I knew I had to join them.

For me, as for the others who have signed our letter, the decision was at once terribly difficult yet glaringly simple.

Difficult, because I am a Zionist. I served in the standing army for six years, and have since spent upward of 50 days a year in the reserves, and I have always equated love of the country with loyal service in the army. It was difficult to break rank, to look my fellow officers and soldiers in the eye and tell them that I would not join in their next campaign, in the war for the settlements, a war we chose, not one we had forced upon us.

Yet the decision was also easy. Both as a democrat and as a patriot, I had no other choice. It took me a long time to realize, to understand that not everything I learned during my long years as an officer was correct. The turning point was a tour of duty in the Gaza Strip a year ago. My soldiers committed no atrocities, but I could see the futility of our military presence there, and the daily injustices inherent in it.

Today I stand firm, confident that I am doing the right thing, hopeful that the group of soldiers currently demonstrating their tremendous courage to refuse, and spending long weeks in military prisons as a result, will help bring an end to the occupation.

The occupation is destroying Israel from within, it is destroying the Palestinians, and it is destroying those two nations’ common future.

Rami Kaplan, aged 29, is a major in the Israeli armored corps and a leading activist in the Courage to Refuse group.

More articles by:
July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science – Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
Gary Leupp
When Did Russia Become an Adversary?
Uri Avnery
“Not Enough!”
Dave Lindorff
Undermining Trump-Putin Summit Means Promoting War
Manuel E. Yepe
World Trade War Has Begun
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Stomps Britain
Wim Laven
The Best Deals are the Deals that Develop Peace
Kary Love
Can We Learn from Heinrich Himmler’s Daughter? Should We?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Franklin Lamb, Requiescat in Pace
Weekend Edition
July 13, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Brian Cloughley
Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya
Paul Street
Time to Stop Playing “Simon Says” with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of Formula and Honey
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos 
Michael Collins
The Affirmative Action Silo
Andrew Levine
Tipping Points
Geoff Dutton
Fair and Balanced Opinion at the New York Times
Ajamu Baraka
Cultural and Ideological Struggle in the US: a Final Comment on Ocasio-Cortez
David Rosen
The New McCarthyism: Is the Electric Chair Next for the Left?
Ken Levy
The McConnell Rule: Nasty, Brutish, and Unconstitutional
George Wuerthner
The Awful Truth About the Hammonds
Robert Fisk
Will Those Killed by NATO 19 Years Ago in Serbia Ever Get Justice?
Robert Hunziker
Three Climatic Monsters with Asteroid Impact
Ramzy Baroud
Europe’s Iron Curtain: The Refugee Crisis is about to Worsen
Nick Pemberton
A Letter For Scarlett JoManDaughter
Marilyn Garson
Netanyahu’s War on Transcendence 
Patrick Cockburn
Is ISIS About to Lose Its Last Stronghold in Syria?
Joseph Grosso
The Invisible Class: Workers in America
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail