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Courage to Refuse > Article > In the name of Zionist values - by David Zonshein
In the name of Zionist values - by David Zonshein 11/08/2004
 
 
A decisive majority of the public already recognizes the need to end the occupation. Even the prime minister and the defense minister from the Likud recognize this. After four blood-drenched years, even the army has retracted its position and recognizes that there is no military solution to the terror and violence.

I refused to serve in the territories after more than 10 years as an officer in an elite Israel Defense Forces unit. I refused to serve in the territories after hundreds of days of service in the territories, as a soldier and a commander, and after I had been an active partner in the destructive policy that has crushed any value in which I was educated and turned me into an active partner in harming the security of the state.

I refused in the name of the Zionist values and the values of the arm
y in which I had been educated.

A decisive majorit
y of the public already recognizes the need to end the occupation. Even the prime minister and the defense minister from the Likud recognize this. After four blood-drenched years, even the army has retracted its position and recognizes that there is no military solution to the terror and violence.

On the other hand, steps to end the occupation are nowhere in sight. The settlers do ever
ything to prevent the political echelons from carrying out evacuations and from withdrawing the army from the territories. The government is unable to remove even the handful of "illegal" outposts.

Compared to them, the left has become an enthusiastic supporter of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. He is still tormented b
y the fear that he will not be considered a patriot and makes sure to denounce refusals to serve by members of the left. The left does not understand that the refusal stems from true patriotism, from the need to save the Jewish state, democracy, the army and Zionism.

About two and a half
years ago, when we founded the Courage to Refuse movement, some of our detractors claimed that our refusal would eventually lead to a similar refusal by right-wing soldiers to evacuate outposts and settlements. On August 5 Alexander Jacobson wrote in his article in Haaretz, "When the debate over the duty of people in uniform to obey comes up during the evacuation of the settlements, what will be said by those who turned the political refuseniks of the left into cultural heroes?"

This is another dive into the hone
y trap that the right has been setting for the left for a whole generation - as if every refusal is alike and every ethic is equal. We will not fall into that trap. The refusal of the 620 fighters who refuse to serve in the territories is profoundly different from the refusal of the settlers to evacuate the settlements. The refusenik movement of fighters who refuse to serve in the territories is a movement of individuals who independently reached the painful recognition that they could no longer violate the dictates of their conscience.

Unlike the settlers, the officers who refuse to serve in the territories have no rabbi and no leader and not even a public figure or political power that will stand behind them. This in stark contrast to the political refusal movement on the right, which has not
yet risen but already has shepherds - rabbis, public figures and politicians - calling for mass refusal.

What's more, our refusal carries a heav
y price - serving time in jail and the social sanctions that we accept with understanding in order to prevent the looming disaster. In contrast, the refusal of the right is accepted as an act of heroism among the right, while the army and the defense minister try to find any possible way to relieve right-wing soldiers from the task.

Our refusal is intended to prevent acts that fall into the realm of war crimes, collective punishments against civilians who have nothing to do with the fighting. We decided to refuse after we saw how much the occupation and the punishment of the whole civilian population harms sec
urity and does not serve it.

The settlers are doing ever
ything to entrench their rule over occupied land over which the State of Israel never recognized sovereignty. They are undermining the Zionist vision of the Jewish state - trying to bring about an apartheid state, in which a Jewish minority rules over an Arab majority deprived of basic civil rights.

The settlers are retreading the path the
y have followed ever since they founded the very first settlement - a series of errors, lies and violations of the law, in order to impose their messianic way on the State of Israel and the whole Israeli public.

The refusal of the right and the refusal of the left do not have even one thing in common. A vast ab
yss separates us. Israel must decide whether it is falling into the abyss of the occupation or is pulling away from it.



The writer is the chairman of Courage to Refuse.

The Article was published in Haaretz on August 10th 2004: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/462531.html


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