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September 03, 2002 - Image 29

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-09-03

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The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition - 5B

To fight or not to fight:


Something amazing is taking place in Israel right now.
I can guess what you must be thinking. It has something
to do with violence. Someone, from some group, be it Pales-
tinian or Israeli, committed a new, even more egregious act
of violence. Something worse than what we've already wit-
nessed for over a year now, since the most recent Palestinian
uprising. Someone was bombed, someone was shot, some-
one was killed. The beattoes on. After all, happens every
day over there, right?
Well, not this time. The amazing thing happening in
Israel right now is that a group of people - a group of sol-
diers no less (imagine the audacity!) - has actually decided
that they've had enough of all the violence; enough of all the
reprisals and all the killing. A group of Israeli reservist sol-
diers have decided to take a novel approach to dealing with
the pattern of increasing bloodshed that's become so famil-

iar in Israel and the occupied territories.
What could they possibly do? How could this group of
just over 200 average, normal men possibly conceive of a
solution to a problem that has seemingly stumped the
"greatest" leaders of both Palestinian and Israeli sides?
Simple. They decided not to fight.
They are "conscientious objectors;" a term we haven't
heard much of around here since the Vietnam War. In a
statement released to the entire world, the reservists declared
that they'd had enough - not enough of fighting to defend
their cpuntry. Don't misunderstand. These men are Israeli
patriots - in the truest sense of the word.
No, they've had enough of what they call "commands
and directives that had nothing to do with the security of our
country and that had the sole purpose of perpetuating our
control over the Palestinian people" In other media reports,
these soldiers have detailed commands from superiors that
included firing on civilians and peaceful demonstrators, as
well as orders preventing Palestinian ambulances from treat-

The best patriots
ing the wounded. Orders such as these, the soldiers claim, against government policie
were not the exception to the rule, but were part of an estab- immoral. You're either forL
lished routine for dealing with the Palestinian uprising. your country or against you
As far as these Israeli soldiers can tell, such policies do criticism is termed as an ac
not in any way serve to defend Israel as a nation and do not We have all seen over t
protect Israeli civilians from terrorist attacks. If anything, of this kind of mindset. Wh
such tactics do further damage to hopes for peace by fan- just react, they get killed an
ning the fire of Palestinian anger. The conscientious objec- beat goes on.
tors recognize that violence is spiraling out of control and So. Here we are. The f
they want to put an end to it. Are these conscientious o
Not surprisingly, to say that they have received a mixed Consider it. Consider that1
response from other segments of the Israeli public would be supposed to be democracy.
a massive understatement. Members of the Israeli govern- angry mob who'd rather sh
ment, the military and many average citizens have called about it later, maybe then th
their decision - to refuse to serve in the West Bank or Gaza is not to blindly obey, but to
- undemocratic and unpatriotic.
During times of crisis, as we Americans are finding out
after Sept. 11, when a nation feels threatened, it becomes
extremely difficult and nearly impossible to voice protest Farah is a Nea

s, even when 'they're unjust and
us or against us. You're either for
ar country. Any voice of reason or
A of treason.
the past year and a half the result
en people don't think and instead
nd they kill other people. And the
final question. The big decision:
bjectors being anti-democratic?
maybe, just maybe, when what's
turns into nothing more than an
oot first, ask questions and think
he best way to support democracy
challenge it.

ar Eastern Studies graduate student.




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