My cousin, a bright young man named Ro'i Berlin, who is about halfway into his mandatory three-year military service period, is now incarcerated in an Israeli Defense Force military prison for refusing to serve in the occupied territories. A page in the Amnesty International Web site
reports that he "said at his trial that his refusal to serve in the Occupied Territories was in protest at the Israeli government's policies."
I'm proud of him for having made such a bold decision to be true to his morals. I intend to refuse to serve in the occupied territories if and when the IDF would require me to do so in future military reserve duty periods, but refusing as a reservist, on your own, is easier than walking out on your platoon and condemning activities that the rest of them are presumably going to at least passively allow/enable. I wanted to write him a letter (having been incarcerated in military prison myself, I know what it's like behind bars), but his mother informed me today that it would just not make it in time. I guess I'll have to settle for talking to him when he's released.
The Amnesty site, like many other refusenik and peace initiatives, urges me to e-mail/fax the Minister of Defense to petition for the "immediate and unconditional" release of all conscientious objectors including my very own cousin. I stare at the fax numbers and e-mail addresses bitterly, and close the page. There's simply no use at all. Even if these faxes and e-mail were to somehow reach the Minister himself (and let's not kid ourselves here, eh?), I know enough about him to bet that there is simply no chance of any positive effect.
The change must come from the political system, and it must be led by different people; this whole current political gvardia
is ruinous and irresponsible in ways I did not even imagine as recently as three years ago. As for the conscientious objectors, they make a noble sacrifice, and I am prepared to make it too, and it is only by numbers, by the sheer volume of people who won't
fight the Minister's war, that the government's and the military's arms may be twisted into realizing the absolute necessity of completely retreating from the occupied territories.