Yonatan Ben Artzi, an pacifist Israeli who the IDF refuses to recognize as such, was again denied conscientious objector status by Israel’s High Court of Justice on June 1. The army and state have been wrestling with Ben Artzi, who is the nephew of hawkish Israeli Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyau, for several years, jailing him seven times for a total of 19 months. The IDF wants Ben Artzi jailed again for another two months and fined 2,000 shekels. Because he refuses to pay the fine, he will probably have to serve four months. However, in a bit of seemingly unselfconscious whimsy, the court did recommend “that the IDF send Ben Artzi a letter explaining that the fact that the exemption is based on him being unsuitable does not contest the fact that he is a pacifist.”
“I am pleased with the criticism expressed by the court regarding the military committee, but I am disappointed in the State of Israel, in which the court does not have the courage to rule against the army,” said Ben Artzi after the ruling. “Another technical victory for the army, another moral victory for Yoni,” said Ben Artzi’s attorney, Michael Sfard.(Ha’aretz, June 1)
The headline in the Jerusalem Post on the verdict read, “Court turns down conscientious objector”
In Israel, 95% of males who apply for CO status are denied it, the poorest rate in the western world.