Militarism and racism have reached a
23 October 2002, by Haggai Matar (one of the Five
Refuseniks currently in jail for refusing to serve in the Israeli army)
Today I will be sent to the military prison, as a result
of my insistence upon my political views, which prevent me from
enlisting in the Israeli Defence Force.
Despite my young age, merely 18, and despite the fact that I do not bear
with me memories from Israel's past, I can wholeheartedly declare that
Israel has reached an unprecedented moral low.
This extreme deterioration began with 'Barak's' generous offers',
which were but another attempt at forcing a unilateral agreement upon
the Palestinian people. Today,
militarization and racism among the Jewish population have reached a
fascist level. The repression of critical thinking, the total acceptance
of the occupation's crimes, the idolization of the army and the gradual
acceptance of the principle of 'ethnic cleansing'- all these constitute
only part of our society's collapse.
To this list one should add the systematic mistreatment of the
Palestinian citizens of Israel, the hateful violence addressed at peace
demonstrators, and the heartless attitude towards the abnormal and the
weak. With all these, I
refuse to cooperate.
The voice of conscience and the lessons humanity should have learnt from
countless similar situations in the past leave me no choice but to
refuse enlistment to the Israeli army - which is falsely, dubbed a 'Defence
Force'. My refusal to
enlist is inevitable. The
oppression known by the peoples of this in the age of the Empires, the
torment of the slaves and the Indians in North America, the Algerian War
of Independence and apartheid in South Africa - all these precedents
have made my refusal inevitable. My grandfather's actions in the Second
World War, in his fight against Nazi Fascism, and his belief in humanism
- these too lead to my refusal. At home I learnt of oppression and justice.
In the face of such evil as one may find here and now, there is
no other way.
On this significant day of my life, accompanied by my supportive family
and friends, I wish to acknowledge my companions, the unseen heroes of
our struggle: the Palestinian who endures the occupation without turning
to violence against the Israeli civilian population, in spite of his
lack of hope for a decent life; the Palestinian citizen of Israel, who
keeps striving for coexistence despite day-to-to humiliations, the youth
who avoids serving the occupation, her upbringing notwithstanding, the
European peace activist, who physically defends Palestinians in the
Occupied Territories; and my friend, a girl raised in a right-wing
family, who fell in love with an Arab and was consequently banished from
her home. While in prison,
when forced to friends, whom I cannot equal, because of my identity; all
those who sacrifice so much more then I do - for peace, against the