This blog is best viewed with the latest browser and an open mind!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Another Inspiring Refusal

On February 5, 1995 Nathan Krystall was arrested in Jerusalem for refusing to enlist in the Israeli army and handed a jail sentence. Nathan was inspired, in part, by his teacher, the wonderful Eqbal Ahmad who, on hearing this, recalled:

"I do remember Nathan Krystall. Five years ago he came to me seeking admittance into my seminar on the Middle East. "Why do you want this course?", I had asked. "I am Jewish and zionist", he had said, "and I have decided to migrate to Israel. Since I am going to live in the Middle East I want to learn about it". I informed him that I regard political zionism as a sectarian ideology, view Israel as a discriminatory state, and advocate the restitution of Palestinian rights and democratization of Israel as essential conditions for peace in the Middle East. "I have heard that", he had said, "I want to know how you see it".

Nathan rarely spoke in class; asked questions occasionally; and read a lot. He did, it seems, migrate to Israel where he is now in prison. By choice!"

This is Nathan's letter of refusal:

To Minister of Defence

Despite my declaration to the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), both written and verbal, that I will not serve in the army, I am still expected to report for 120 days of service on February 5. I ask that you cancel the order for my enlistment due to reasons of conscientious objection, which I briefly discuss below:

I arrived in this country almost three years ago. Over two years ago I decided, for various reasons, to take advantage of my privileged status as a Jew and, via the Law of Return, become an Israeli citizen. I knew that I would possibly be ordered to serve in the IDF, and at that time believed that service inside the Green Line would not be totally counter to my principles, but afterwards I changed my mind.

First and foremost, I now totally oppose the existence of Israel as a Jewish state, which is antithetical to the establishment of any kind of democratic state here. After living in the country, it is clear to me that preservation of Israel as a Jewish state will always mean upholding the rights of Jews at the expense of Palestinians. As such, dominance can only be achieved and maintained by the use of force. The IDF - like its predecessor, the Hagannah - is a central instrument of this violent rule.

In the short time that I have been here I have witnessed how the IDF, upon the orders of government and its commanding officers (which ultimately emanate from the same place, namely yourself, being both the prime minister and the minister of defence) will stop at nothing to silence any voice that cries out against this oppression, and to smash any action that aims at guaranteeing the full rights of Palestinians. This I have witnessed every single day, through accounts via the media, stories told to me personally, and with my own eyes.

The continuing, and even increasing, expropriation of Palestinian land, settlement expansion and road building in the West Bank, particularly in the Greater Jerusalem area, along with IDF and settler presence in the Gaza Strip, West Bank including East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and Southern Lebanon, only reinforces my resolve to refuse army service.

It is IDF that guards the work crews who uproot trees and tear through hills to build Jewish-only settlements, and now the Jewish-only bypass roads. It is the IDF that protects settlers who rampage against Palestinian residents; that enabled the massacre, one year ago, of 30 worshipers in the Ibrahimi Mosque by Baruch Goldstein and his accomplices; that, over subsequent months, carried out an additional massacre of forty more Palestinians; that now supervises religious persecution through the division of the Ibrahimi Mosque; that routinely assassinates Palestinian political activists and stands guard over thousands more in Israel; that bombs to death hundreds of Lebanese citizens every year and afterwards claims that they were "terrorists"; that prevents Palestinians from drilling even the wells required to meet the minimal level of water use; and that blocks Palestinians from reaching Jerusalem - the geographic, economic, cultural, and religious center of Palestinian life.

And, finally, it is the army that, by en masse expulsion and deportation, has created millions of Palestinian refugees and that keeps them refugees by refusing to allow them to return to their homes, on both inside and outside of the Green Line.

Furthermore, the IDF serves as an initiation rite into full Israeli manhood. It is these men who regularly beat and shoot to death their wives and girlfriends. Many feminists have drawn the connection between service in the Israeli army and the high level of male abuse against women that exists in Israeli society. Also, gay men, only recently allowed to serve in the IDF, do not fit into the norm of the Israeli Man and are subject to constant harassment.

The IDF solidifies the class stratification of Israeli society based on race and religion. Perusal of the "Help Wanted" advertisements in the newspaper reveals that a very large percentage of bosses demand army service as a condition of employment. This immediately excludes the vast majority of Palestinians who constitute 18 percent of Israeli citizenry, thus hindering their chances of economic upward mobility. Plus, it is common knowledge that within the army itself the most undesirable jobs are reserved for certain sectors of society, for example Ethiopian immigrants.

If there existed here a popular army that protected equally the lives and rights of every citizen regardless of religion, race, sex or class, I would gladly enlist and serve. However, for the above reasons and more, I am unwilling to serve in the IDF even for one day.

Nathan Krystall,
File #309960805,


Note: The last info I have about Nathan dates back to 1998, when he was a leading activist with NYJMEP (New Yorkers for a Just Middle East Peace), and was part of a brief but successful campaign against my favorite ice-cream company's slip-up ...

Labels: , ,


Blogger the olive ream said...

Superb post! As a fellow Pakistani blogger and an author for Global Voices Online, I just wanted to let you know that this post is promoted in my recent post on GV. The link is here:


28 September, 2005 10:37

Anonymous Anonymous said...

ay bhai aap kay muluk men to army aisay log ko katal kar dega to kae ko dimag kharab karta hai sob ka

28 September, 2005 17:22


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home