What Happens If You Refuse To Serve In The IDF

The diverse range of opinions regarding the refusal to serve is the reason why there is no single umbrella organization that includes all groups of refusers. While most instances of refusal to serve have historically been found among left-leaning Israelis, there is a rapidly expanding willingness among right-wing soldiers to refuse orders to evict Jews from settlements in the West Bank (and formerly in the Gaza Strip). Since the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, Haredi Jews have refused to serve in the Israeli military for religious reasons. Typically, they study Torah in Yeshivas, and as such are legally exempt from military service. Also refusing any Israeli military service are people affiliated with various Hasidic anti-Zionist groups (most notably Satmar), the Brisk Yeshivas, and the Neturei Karta. Most of these groups are followers of the Edah HaCharedis. Some Israeli celebrities have evaded military service national service to further their careers. In a compromise to avoid potential boycotts of companies Refaeli works with, she agreed to visit injured IDF soldiers on visits to Israel and encourage enlistment in the army. The incident made headlines again in October 2009 when fellow Israeli model Esti Ginzburg criticized Refaeli in an interview with Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, reigniting arguments over the ease with which conscription can be dodged. Almost all the political factions in Israel have condemned refusal to serve on ideological grounds, using terms such as dangerous and undemocratic. The conscientious objectors, or refuseniks as they call themselves, found support within left-wing and the Arab parties, Hadash, Balad, Raam and parts of Meretz (Zehava Galon, Roman Bronfman and Shulamit Aloni).

Some have even accused the refuseniks of treason during wartime.

The Israeli Labor Party and other Meretz members have condemned the refuseniks and said that although their protests against the occupation are justified and understandable, the means they are taking to manifest it are wrong. Some major left-wing politicians expressed the fear that left-oriented refusal to serve in the territories will lend legitimacy to right-oriented refusal to remove settlements. Right wing politicians have claimed that the refuseniks' actions are helping the enemies of Israel in their anti-Israeli incitement. Some have even accused the refuseniks of treason during wartime. This viewpoint was given some support when the book The Seventh War, by Avi Yisacharov and Amos Harel was published in 2004; it contains extensive interviews with Hamas leaders, at least one of whom explicitly stated that the actions of the commandos' and pilots' letters encouraged to promote and continue the use of suicide bombers. The Israeli High Court of Justice ruled in 2002 that refusal to serve was legal on the grounds of unqualified pacifism, but "selective refusal" which accepted some duties and not others was illegal. The court said that allowing selective refusal would "weaken the ties that bind us as a nation".

Introducing Manga

The court also said that the refusal to serve in the territories is selective refusal and not conscientious objection. From 1998 to 2000, 9.5% of applicants who filed for an exemption from service for conscientious reasons were granted it. On January 4, 2004, a military tribunal imposed one-year prison terms on five young activists who refused to enlist in the IDF. The court accepted that the five acted in accordance with their conscience but "ruled that they did not refuse to serve as individuals, but rather as a group, with the explicit goal of bringing about a change in Israeli policy in the territories. As such, the court ruled, their action strayed from the norms of classic conscientious objection into the realm of civil disobedience" (Haaretz). In Mandatory Palestine during World War II, when many military-age Jews from the Yishuv were joining the British military, a few conscientious objectors refused, and wrote to the headquarters of War Resisters' International in London about the social pressure they faced.

39;s greatest failure was to not have conscientious objection recognized in law.

A Palestine branch of War Resisters' International was founded in 1946 by one such conscientious objector, David Engel, who in 1943 had been expelled from Kfar Ruppin for refusing to enlist in the British Army. He reported that his group initially had about 40 members. In 1948, the year of Israel's declaration of independence, another member of the group, Joseph Abileah, was the first conscientious objector to be put on trial before a military court for refusing to serve in the IDF. He was excused from service in the army on the grounds of ill health, which according to him was a face-saving measure. The group's greatest failure was to not have conscientious objection recognized in law. In general, persons who made their objections known before being called up were treated more leniently than those to objected after receiving their call-up notice. Members of the group held a variety of political opinions beside their common pacifism; while some were anti-Zionist most were not. Although Israel has mandatory subscription, some Israelis do not serve in the military. Israeli Arabs are not drafted, though they may enlist, and increasing numbers serve voluntarily including at very senior level. Haredi Jews were exempt, so long as they did study in yeshivas (up to a maximum of 62,500 individuals), based on an arrangement worked out with David Ben-Gurion in 1948 and the Tal Law, though small numbers volunteer to serve in the IDF, especially in the Netzah Yehuda Battalion.

39;s failure to take steps to avoid conflict.

The exemption lapsed on August 1, 2012, after being struck down by the Israeli Supreme Court in April 2012. Orthodox women can avoid service on the basis of their religion upon filing certain paperwork. After becoming officially exempt, religious women may choose to do national service work instead, although this is not compulsory. Many people who are "unfit" or "unqualified", either mentally or physically, are also exempt. Military service can often be postponed for further education-either college or university, or technical studies. In February 2004, Israeli Chief of Personnel Major-General Gil Regev told a Knesset committee that the number of soldiers refusing to serve in the territories had dramatically decreased in 2003 despite the increase in the number of high-profile refusals. The first well-known instance of an individual refusing to serve in the IDF occurred in 1954 when Amnon Zichroni, a lawyer, asked to be released from military service as a pacifist. Initially, then Minister of Defense Pinhas Lavon refused to release Zichroni, though he was eventually discharged from the army reserves. On April 28, 1970, a group of high school seniors about to be drafted sent a letter to Prime Minister Golda Meir expressing their reservation about the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, the War of Attrition and the government's failure to take steps to avoid conflict. In 1987, a new group was formed, also made up of high school students intent on refusing to serve in the Occupied Territories. They gave themselves the name that the press used to dub the previous effort - 'Shministim' (Hebrew:, "twelfth graders").

One of the most prominent Shiministim that went to jail is Omer Goldman.

In 2001, a high-school refusers movement - also called Shministim followed in their stead. Over 3,000 Israeli high school students are currently members of Shministim. A smaller number of them have also signed a public letter in which they state their intent to refuse any service in the army. Such a behavior has usually repeated in jail sentences of several weeks. One of the most prominent Shiministim that went to jail is Omer Goldman. Her case received special attention since her father used to be one of the highest ranking Mossad officers. On December 18, 2008, a worldwide campaign was launched in order to request the freedom of Shministim, including the delivery of more than forty thousand letters, to Israeli embassies, appealing for her cause. Yesh Gvul (Hebrew: גבול, can be translated as "there is a limit" or "the border exists") is a movement founded in 1982 at the outbreak of the Lebanon War by reservists who refused to serve in Lebanon. A petition, delivered to Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Defense Minister Ariel Sharon was signed by 3,000 reservists, some of whom were court martialed and served time in military prison for refusing to obey orders. It also engages in human rights activities, such as petitioning British courts to issue arrest warrants for IDF officers accused of human rights abuses and war crimes. In the Adam Keller Court Martial in April-May 1988, Reserve Corporal Adam Keller was charged with insubordination and spreading propaganda harmful to military discipline. Keller was sentenced to three months imprisonment although the maximum penalty could have been six years, three for each of the charges.

Keller was an active member of Yesh Gvul, but declared that he had operated on his own. For its part, the movement did not take responsibility for his act, but did provide his wife with the monetary support given to the families of refusers. They established the group, Ometz LeSarev, which distinguishes itself by using conspicuously Zionist discourse: "Refusal to serve in the Territories is Zionism." 633 combatants from all units of the IDF and from all sectors of the Israeli society have since signed the letter. September 24, 2003, was signed by 27 reserve and active duty pilots. One of the signatories was the famous pilot Brigadier General (res.) Yiftah Spector. The letter was precipitated by the targeted killing of Salah Shehade, leader of Hamas's militant wing, who was killed, along with 14 others, by a one-ton bomb dropped on his residential building. Pilots decried the large number of civilian casualties caused by Israel's targeted killings as violating the military's ethics code. In response, the Chief of Staff announced that the pilots would be grounded and will no longer be allowed to train cadets in the country's flight school. In response to their letter, hundreds of IAF pilots signed a petition denouncing the pilots' letter and their refusal to serve. Because of the harsh response, several of the pilots who originally signed the letter reneged and removed their signatures; after more than 30 signed, four later recanted. One, an El Al pilot, was threatened with dismissal and another lost his civilian job.

This letter, dated December 2003, was signed by 13 reservists of Sayeret Matkal, an elite commando unit, serving in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (nine commandos in Sayeret Matkal, 2 soldiers who had been removed from reserve duty because of prior refusals to serve there, and 2 additional combatant soldiers). Their letter, addressed to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, stated: We shall no longer lend a hand in the occupation of the territories. We shall no longer take part in the deprivation of basic human rights from millions of Palestinians. We shall no longer serve as a shield in the crusade of the settlements. We shall no longer corrupt our moral character in missions of oppression. We shall no longer deny our responsibility as soldiers of the Israeli DEFENSE force. There are some Israeli rabbis, former generals and public figures who call on soldiers to refuse orders to dismantle Israeli settlements and remove their residents. One of those who call soldiers to refuse removal order is Uri Elitzur, a publicist and former civil servant. Eliztur claims that settlers-removal order is an illegal order, and therefore soldiers must refuse to obey it. He used the Hebrew term בלתי חוקית (literally, a clearly illegal order), which is a judicial term for an order that a soldier must refuse, coined in relation to the Kafr Qasim massacre. He used a Yossi Sarid (a left-wing politician from Meretz) quotation that an order to transfer Palestinians should be resisted by any means, as a legitimation to a total and even semi-violent resistance against transfer of settlers.

In June 2004, MKs Effi Eitam and Aryeh Eldad (National Union) initiated a law bill called "Unity of the Military Law". The law says that only Israeli police (including Border Police) officers could engage in the removal of Jewish settlements, and soldiers could not. In 2005, as a reaction to the Israel's unilateral disengagement plan, a group called "Mateh Chomat Magen" (the name referring to Operation Defensive Shield) published a letter with 10,000 signatures of soldiers who signed a petition saying that they would refuse to uproot and remove Israeli settlements. It took roughly a year to gather all of the signatures. Gaza until hostilities ceased in order not to be seen as attacking the army in wartime. According to the highest-ranking signatory, many other members of Unit 8200 support their stand, but did not add their names for fear of reactions and the personal price their involvement would exact. 10 of the 43 belonged to the "circle of control" in the unit. The 43 decried the use of espionage to set up airstrikes that have inflicted casualties among civilians. Gaza,', that war being, according to one of the group, 'just another chapter in this cycle of violence,' and calls on the Israeli public to speak up against injustices.


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