Israeli refuseniks in graphic street theater

From Israel’s largest newspaper, Yediot Aharanot. A year ago, several high school students in an upscale section of Tel Aviv chained themselves to the gate of their school to keep out an army recruiter. As one of their number, Uri Nathan, 18, prepared to enter the induction center to refuse to serve, his friends staged this provocative protest:

Anti-occupation display stirs row

Ynet, Sept. 28
Moran Zelikovich

New army recruits forced to watch ‘soldiers’ beating up ‘Palestinians’ in display prepared by teenagers who signed service refusal petition

(VIDEO) New IDF recruits on their way to the enlistment center Wednesday were surprised to encounter an anti-occupation display prepared by fellow teenagers.

The display included three handcuffed, blindfolded boys kneeling on all fours, with a youngster wearing an army uniform holding a bat and telling them: “You wish to pray? Pray. Whoever moves is going to get it from me.”

The display was prepared by left-wing youths who previously signed a letter declaring their refusal to serve in the IDF. The teenagers arrived at the enlistment center with their 18-year-old friend Uri Natan, who also declared his refusal to enlist for military service.

The protesters handed out a “gift to new recruits,” namely a small set of handcuffs with a note reading: “Dear recruit, you were chosen to serve in the State of Israel’s army. To mark your entry into the ‘most moral army in the world’ we are presenting you with those handcuffs. Through emergency orders in place in Israel, you have the authority to detain people without a trial. Please use this gift and humiliate anyone who dares resist the Israeli occupation.”

Several police officers separated the protesters from angry passerby, who on several occasions attempted to assault the teenagers.

“Soldiers die because of you, you are shaming the country,” some people yelled at the youngsters. Others harshly criticized the display and noted that its timing, a day after a video showing the last moments of an Israeli man kidnapped and murdered by Hamas was released, was highly inappropriate.

‘His conscience is guiding him’

Adiel Shilinger, 18, who arrived to be drafted, was terrified by the display.

“That’s disgusting, remove them from here,” he shouted at the police officers. “They want the Arabs to be here instead of us, they are ruining my drafting ceremony. If the police were not here I would have hit them,” he added.

Another youth, a religious youngster who happened to be present at the scene, started a conversation with the demonstrators about the future of the Jewish majority. A female protestor answered his inquiry with, “If I feel like having sex with Palestinians, then I will have sex with all the Palestinians. I will have Arab children.”

The demonstrators hugged their friend as he entered the enlistment center. Natan justified his decision: “I am against armies and wars and I don’t believe it is possible to hold these convictions and serve the army. As an Israeli youth I felt that I am missing nothing by refusing to serve. On the contrary my refusal empowers me as I feel I am opposed to a powerful institution.”

A year ago, Natan became famous when he chained himself to a school’s gates to protest a lecture given by an IDF officer there.

“I am not afraid of imprisonment. I have enough books and drawing equipment to keep me busy. My fear is for the kind of life I will have in having to live in Israeli society. I hope that until then it will become an honor to refuse to serve in the army,” the youth said.

Ephrat Natan watched her only son saying his last goodbyes to his friends. “His conscience is guiding him,” she said partly explaining, partly apologizing.

“I respect his decision. He is determined now following years of hesitation. I tried to dissuade him not to refuse despite my opposition to the occupation. I believed it was possible to be recruited without necessarily getting involved in unethical acts,” she added.

See our last post on Israeli CO’s.