My Draft Resistance

I can’t remember exactly when I decided I wasn’t prepared to take an active role in the army. I remember I started talking about it, I decided to open up questions that I was afraid to ask, hard questions that the society I lived in always took for granted, as pre-determined. Pretty spontaneously I announced to my friends that I didn’t intend to enlist in the IDF.
The problem was that, even for myself, I couldn’t explain exactly why. I knew about the occupation and I knew about the oppression but it was so far away. I guess I was wrong and it was actually so close by.
My best friend couldn’t take my decision. She told me she didn’t respect me, that we have no choice, that we have to fight.
Other friends didn’t take me seriously and said I was just creating a provocation (is refusing the occupation a provocation??)

I could never understand why people believe that the right way is to fight. The sense we’re in an unending war creates that feeling; they say there’s no other choice and we simply have to defend ourselves, that the only solution to the conflict is a military one. And we’re taught not to ask ‘why.’ I don’t believe in wars, I never did. I’m told that the army protects us. I feel scared and tense and very unprotected when I see the army around me.

When I was doing volunteer work at a hospital trauma unit, a wounded terrorist was brought in.
I heard the doctors whispering, there were rumors he was a terrorist.
When I asked the head nurse she yelled at me and said it made no difference whether or not he was a terrorist and that if I had a problem with it I should leave and not come back.
She’s right. It doesn’t matter if he’s a terrorist or not, everyone is entitled to medical treatment and I’m certainly not the one to decide they aren’t. I looked straight into the terrorist’s eyes, after he had hurt someone I knew. He asked me politely for a piece of gum, I told him he couldn’t, that they were going to take an X-ray.
When I told my friends about it they were stunned. Some of them were angry and said if they had been there, they would have let him die, and how could I even talk about something so immoral.
“Should I be the one to decide who deserves to die and who doesn’t,” I answered. But it was hopeless. They said a terrorist wasn’t a human being, that it would have been more moral to kill him.

A few months went by, I got my first summons to the conscription center for examinations, and I went through all kinds of screening for jobs in the IDF. I did it out of fear, fear to face my resistance. I was afraid that once again it would arouse harsh responses around. That it would confront me again with thoughts and questions that were hard to handle.

At one point, I can’t remember exactly when, I knew I intended to get an exemption from service in the IDF. I didn’t know how to name it and I couldn’t explain my reasons. People called it “pacifism.” I was afraid of that definition.

I began a journey, looking for answers, talking to people, looking on the web. I joined the vigils of “Women in Black,” I went to demonstrations and I signed the High School Seniors’ Letter. Looking back, that turned to be one of the most significant things I’ve done.

My fear of pacifism passed, when my whole class went to play “Paintball” as a social outing. The trainer explained the semi-automatic paint rifles, the correct defensive moves, how to aim at the “enemy,” how to switch magazines.
I didn’t take part in that game. I came home a pacifist.

I started standing up for what I was saying and tried to explain myself like I had always wanted to. I know what I think of the situation in Israel and how to solve this long, ongoing conflict. I just know that I myself along with other conscientious objectors, resisting the draft, or inside the army, or resisting in reserves, have made the most moral choice possible. We’ve refused to enlist in the IDF. We’ve disrupted a very broad consensus, but it’s very important to disrupt it, important for people to start asking questions.

I was summoned to the “conscience committee.”
The committee was a big joke, an insult to intelligence. In a set, very short time I was supposed to prove that I have a conscience and that I’m a pacifist. What had taken me so long to formulate was supposed to fit into seven whole minutes.

I got through the committee. A heavy burden was lifted. I know what I did was brave and moral but in the society I live in I’m often challenged.
A lot of people say that if I were a man it would be different. Then they wouldn’t accept me at all. Men are more vital to the IDF, that’s a fact, but the message I wanted to get across is the same as any message a male draft resister might want to sound. Many people miss that point. For them, there’s no place for draft resistance in this country and they don’t even think about the motives. People simply accept that there’s no choice.

Draft resistance doesn’t end when the exemption certificate arrives. Draft resistance is something I have to deal with day by day, when I see soldiers, when people ask me whether I’m done serving yet, when they ask me when I’m scheduled to enlist, or whether I’m entitled to a soldiers’ discount when I buy a movie ticket.
At times it seems like it would have been easier to enlist. The price of resistance is high. I’ve lost most of my friends. My friends are in the army now. They can’t talk to me without getting angry or without dealing with a lot of emotions.
I know I won’t stand for it, that I won’t accept the “no choice” outlook, that I can’t be part of the army, that I can’t occupy, that I can’t oppress. After all, the value system I’ve constructed clashes so clearly with serving in the IDF. Today more than ever, I have no problem saying that and really meaning it.