Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Israeli Refuseniks

Here's a very interesting article on Israeli soldiers, pilots etc who have refused to serve in the occupied territories. There are many quotes and they are fascinating. There are pilots who have refused to commit any more "crimes" or "state terrorism" by carrying out air-strikes on populated areas. There are prestigious elite commandos and ordinary soldiers who have spoken out against the use of the Israeli army for immoral purposes.

Some rambling thoughts.

It is bizarre that there is a country which is exercising such brutality on one hand but on the other is civilised enough that it is possible for these soldiers to do what they are doing. They are, of course, punished for their disobedience but the punishments are not extreme. And although their tales are depressing, it is somewhat hopeful that these people exist and their numbers are growing.

It seems to me that it is a lot harder to stand up like this, against your peers, your commanders and maybe even your subordinates than it would be to just continue following orders. Especially if you have been doing something for several years before you conclude that it is wrong. People rationalise their own actions in all kinds of ways and seem to want to continue doing the same thing even though they know on some level it is wrong because to change now is to admit that you were wrong all along.

That said, the pilots said they had noticed a change in the character of their missions in the last few years, "We believed in the purity of our arms and that we did all we could to protect unnecessary loss of life. Somewhere in the last few years it became harder and harder to believe that is the case." . I suppose it is easier to change allegiance when the object of your allegiance changes first.

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