A young Israeli conscientious objector who refuses to participate in the illegal occupation of Palestine has been sentenced to his sixth consecutive prison term.
+972 Magazine reports that 19-year-old Natan Blanc, who has been in and out of prison for the past three months, has informed authorities that he refuses to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) because of the continuing occupation of Palestinian territories and the "constant militarization of Israeli society" needed to maintain the occupation.
Blanc has been sentenced to two-week jail terms six times for refusing to be drafted into the Israeli army, the most recent time being last Sunday. He is sentenced, jailed, released and sent back to the induction base and re-tried after again refusing to be drafted.
In a November 19 statement, Blanc wrote:
I began thinking about refusing to be conscripted into the Israeli army during the 'Cast Lead' operation in 2008. The wave of aggressive militarism that swept the country then, the expressions of mutual hatred, and the vacuous talk about stamping out terror and creating a deterrent effect were the primary trigger for my refusal. Today, after four years of full terror, without a political process and without quiet in Gaza and Sderot, it is clear that the Netanyahu government, like that of his predecessor Olmert, is not interested in finding a solution to the existing situation, but rather in preserving it. From their point of view, there is nothing wrong with our initiating a 'Cast Lead 2' operation every three or four years... we will talk of deterrence, we will kill some terrorist, we will lose civilians on both sides, and we will prepare the ground for a new generation full of hatred on both sides. As representatives of the people, members of the cabinet have no duty to present their vision for the futures of the country, and they can continue this bloody cycle, with no end in sight. But we, as citizens and human beings, have a moral duty to refuse to participate in this cynical game.
Blanc eschewed the 'mental health' deferment route that many Israeli youth take to avoid serving in the IDF, which is mandatory for nearly all Jewish citizens, both male and female. According to the Jerusalem Post, a quarter of eligible military-age males and more than 40 percent of such females do not go into the army.
But to the 'shministim,' the young Israelis who refuse to participate in their country's illegal occupation and ongoing colonization-- some say ethnic cleansing-- of Palestine, honesty prevails. "We cannot be moral and serve the occupation," Maya Wind and Netta Mishly wrote in a 2008 letter.
While most conscientious objectors manage to avoid being jailed by avoiding public proclamations of their status, some are very vocal about their opposition to Israeli policies and actions and end up behind bars. Noam Gur, an 18-year-old woman from Nahariya, wrote:
For years I have been told that the control over the Palestinian people is supposed to protect me, but information about the suffering caused due to the terrorizing of the Palestinian population was omitted from that story. The road to dismantling this apartheid and achieving true and just peace is long, and hard, but as I see it, actions taken by the Israeli army only push it further away. Over this past decade, the Palestinian people have been increasingly choosing the path of non-violent resistance, and I choose to join this path and turn to a popular, non-violent struggle in Palestine, rather than to serve in the Israeli army and continue the violence.
Gur, who was jailed multiple times for refusing to be drafted, cited "population transfer, murder of non-violent demonstrators, the apartheid wall, the massacre operations that the Israeli army chooses to carry out, and the rest of the daily violations of the human rights of the Palestinians" as reasons for her refusal to serve.
"I know my refusal won't end the occupation or change the world, but perhaps it'll have some small effect on even a single person or two," Gur told +972 magazine last March. "Perhaps more Palestinians will hear of it and will be happy to see that not all Israelis are the criminals at the checkpoint or the soldiers shooting tear gas canisters at them in demonstrations."
"But general goals aside," she continued, "I just want to feel right about myself. I want to know that I did all that I could do, and that I did try to make a difference-- or at least that I was not a partner in crime."