Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Today five young Israeli men started a one-year term in a military prison for refusing to enlist in the IDF. Although I understand the problematic charachter of selective refusal, I have great sympathy for those who did their regular army service but who refuse to do their reserve duty in the occupied territories. Total refusal is another issue, and as long as Israel finds itself at war - for whatever reasons and under whatever circumstances - the country can not allow young men and women to refuse to serve at all, for conscientious or political reasons. Still, one of the arguments expressed by the court in order to justify its sentence seriously confused me. This period, the judges said, called for social unity, which was being undermined by draft-dodgers who were giving the country a bad name around the world. The social unity bit makes perfect sense, but do the judges honestly believe that it is these refuseniks who are giving Israel a bad name around the world?

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