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Courage to Refuse > Press > Mazuz: Conscientious objection could be 'positive phenomenon' - Yuval Yoaz, Gideon Alon and Lily Galili
Mazuz: Conscientious objection could be 'positive phenomenon' - Yuval Yoaz, Gideon Alon and Lily Galili 11/05/2004
 
 

"This seems like it could be a positive phenomenon that demonstrates social involvement and concern," he said. "Refusal to serve and civil disobedience for political reasons are an integral part of the Israeli reality in the last few decades," he said.

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz shocked the political establishment yesterday by expressing tentative, if qualified, support for conscientious objection, saying he understood what was potentially a "positive phenomenon."

   

On the right, coalition whip Gideon Sa'ar, MK (Likud), said Mazuz "was wrong to say things that could be interpreted as indifference to the grave practice of political criminality that undermines the foundations of democracy. The attorney general does not have the privilege to say things that could be interpreted as empathy for lawbreakers."

 

On the left, Yahad MKs welcomed the remarks. Zehava Galon said the Knesset should follow in Mazuz's footsteps and pass a law that would recognize the right of youth from across the political spectrum to refuse army service on conscientious grounds.

 

She and her Yahad colleague MK Roman Bronfman have already submitted a bill that would allow refuseniks for reasons of religion, faith and conscience to choose alternative national service instead of military service.

 

And the Courage to Refuse group said "the attorney general has joined a large and respectable group of leading legal authorities and public figures who understand that refusal to serve is founded on morality, caring, and love of the country. That group includes former attorney general Michael Ben-Yair, Prof. Ze'ev Sternhell, and author Sami Michael, head of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel."

 

According to Courage to Refuse, there are now some 600 reserve soldiers and officers who refuse to serve in the territories for reasons of conscience.

 

"I can understand the phenomenon of youth struggling over beliefs and opinions," Mazuz told the fourth annual convention of the Israel Bar Association in Eilat.

 

"This seems like it could be a positive phenomenon that demonstrates social involvement and concern," he said. "Refusal to serve and civil disobedience for political reasons are an integral part of the Israeli reality in the last few decades," he said.

 

He classified conscientious objection as an expression of human rights, as the Supreme Court had previously ruled.

 

However, Mazuz warned that a balance must be maintained between the value of conscientious objection and its consequences in any particular time and place. He also discussed the distinction, laid forth by the Supreme Court, between a total refusal to serve in the army and selective refusal.

 

"The significance of the approach is that the state doesn't see in selective refusal a legitimate cause to refuse to serve, and takes judicial action against selective refuseniks," Mazuz said.

 

 

Link to the article: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/425935.html


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