Another Israeli imprisoned for refusing military service


6:53 pm - January 9th 2013

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by Steve Hynd

Earlier this week, 19 year old Israeli Natan Blanc was sentenced to a fourth term in prison after refusing to sign up to military service.

Blanc has been given an additional 14 days in prison for refusing to join the Israeli Defence Force (IDF). He will serve his sentence in military prison No. 6 near Atlit.

The Israeli peace group New Profile has called for the “the immediate and unconditional release from prison of Natan Blanc”.

Hannah Brock from the UK charity ‘War Resisters International’ also condemned the decision saying,

“His conscientious objection, like that of many others in Israel and around the world, highlights what he calls the ‘aggressive militarism’ in society. This is the fourth time Natan has been imprisoned for the same ‘offence’. Repeated imprisonment is a violation of international legal standards”

Indeed, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in Opinion 24/2003 on Israel came to the conclusion that the repeated imprisonment of conscientious objectors in Israel is arbitrary. The right to conscientious objection to military service is enshrined in the ICCPR.

Most Jewish Israelis are conscripted at the age of 18 – although the position of ultra-orthodox Jews and Israeli Arabs in the military has long been a point of political tension in Israel.

When Blanc first refused military service he explained his decision saying:

After four years full of terror, without a political process [towards peace negotiations], and without quiet in Gaza and Sderot, it is clear that the Netanyahu Government, like that of his predecessor Olmert, is not interested in finding a solution to the existing situation, but rather in preserving it…we, as citizens and human beings, have a moral duty to refuse to participate in this cynical game.

Blanc’s full statement can be read in both Hebrew and English here.

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Reader comments


Compare this news report on 31 October 2012 in Haaretz:

Number of ultra-Orthodox men exempted from IDF service reaches all-time high

IDF says it expects number of exemptions for ultra-Orthodox to continue rising, unless government decides to draft them; in 2011, a quarter of all draft-eligible Israeli males received exemptions from military service for various reasons.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/number-of-ultra-orthodox-men-exempted-from-idf-service-reaches-all-time-high.premium-1.473349

In Israel, there is one rule for conscientious objectors to military service in the IDF and a totally different rule for ultra-orthodox Israeli jews.

@1. Bob B: “In Israel, there is one rule for conscientious objectors to military service in the IDF and a totally different rule for ultra-orthodox Israeli jews.”

The link that you suggest is “subscriber only” and my house doesn’t have a subscription.

This link suggests that Israel conscripts ultra-Orthodox Jews into the army:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19492627

As a small L liberal, I care about conscientious objectors everywhere. Ultra-Orthodox Jews may or may not be conscientious objectors; depending on how they feel, they may be asked to sign up or may sign up voluntarily. Like monks.


I send my belated holiday wishes for freedom to Natan Blanc.

3. Chaise Guevara

@ Bob B

“In Israel, there is one rule for conscientious objectors to military service in the IDF and a totally different rule for ultra-orthodox Israeli jews.”

When the UK had conscription, it was far easier to get off on religious grounds than moral ones. Maybe that’s common around the world.

Chaise: “When the UK had conscription, it was far easier to get off on religious grounds than moral ones. Maybe that’s common around the world.”

Thanks for that illuminating observation. It would seem that national exemption boards – or whatever they are called – feel inhibited about delving into theological objections to military service but not to ethical ones.

By wide repute, a common question often put to conscientious objectors to military service citing personal objections to the use of lethal force was:

What would you do if your mother/sister was being raped/attacked?

Responses of the kind that: My deity forbids lethal force, seems to have been often conclusive. OTOH people claiming direction by supernatural forces in other contexts tend to get sectioned – or the equivalent – under mental health legislation.

Indeed, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in Opinion 24/2003 on Israel came to the conclusion that the repeated imprisonment of conscientious objectors in Israel is arbitrary.

How does Israel treat its naked ramblers?

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Gough

“How does Israel treat its naked ramblers?”

Even the city of San Francisco, where flower power prevails, has found it necessary to recently approve an ordinance banning public nudity in response to mounting public complaints. This soon followed previous ordinances banning nudity in restaurants and making it obligatory for nudists to place covers on public seats before sitting down for reasons of maintaining public hygiene.

2 Charlieman:

Thanks for updating me. By reports, Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, has terminated the exemption from military service for Ultra-Orthodox Israelis. Reports in the American press on this are illuminating:

Ultra-Orthodox leader Meir Porush, a former lawmaker, says drafting his people would unleash a “civil war.” He says the military neither needs nor wants to be flooded with devoutly religious conscripts.

The exemption, which involved only a few hundred top rabbinical students in 1949, has mushroomed into an exemption that has allowed 60,000 able-bodied men to forego military service each year.
http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2012/08/israel-to-drop-military-exemption-for-ultra-orthodox-jews/1

It appears that exemption from military service for ultra-orthodox Israelis is not the only issue of national contention. Another is that a disproportionate number are said to be workless and living off social security benefits. Yet another is that in areas with high densities of ultra-orthodox Israelis live, women are obliged to sit at the back of buses to avoid distressing male passengers.


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