The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

100 Israeli reservists say they won’t serve in the occupied territories

Feb 4, 2002

By February 1, more than 100 Israeli reservists had signed a published statement, which said, “The price of occupation is the loss of the Israeli Defense Forces’ semblance of humanity and the corruption of all of Israeli society.” Their statement continued, “We will no longer fight beyond the Green Line – the West Bank and Gaza Strip which Israel occupied after the 1967 war – with the aim of dominating, expelling, starving and humiliating an entire people.”

In and of itself this statement is not enough to prevent the Israeli Army from doing its dirty work in the occupied territories. But a week before, 52 reservists had signed the statement and sent it to a newspaper to be published, so their number has grown. And it is no small thing to see soldiers refuse an order.

In fact, since the Intifada resumed in 2000 some 400 Israelis, mostly reservists, have refused service in the occupied territories. But this has been kept under wraps. Most were quietly dismissed, without any discipline being taken. And of the 40 summoned to disciplinary hearings, the most jail time anyone did was 28 days. But with the publication of this letter, the reservists challenged the government openly – stating that they would refuse an order. This, as the Israeli military has hastened to point out, is “treason.” So long as it’s only 100, the military can continue to insist it is treason. The question is, will it continue to grow?

In any case, it has already proved that Israel is not the monolith that Sharon wants to pretend it is. The struggle of the Palestinians to end their oppression continues. If a section of the Israeli people can act on the realization that a people that oppresses another can never be free, it may hasten the end to the Israeli occupation.