Yuval Oron-Ofir's CO declaration


I would like to ask you to recognize that I have a conscientious problem with enlisting in the army. I believe that the Israeli army has lost its mission as the organization that defends the country's citizens within its borders.
For 41 years now, Israel has been imposing an occupation of lands that are not its own. Lacking any moral justification or values, it rules over these lands by armed force. It is very clear that this occupation has not been dictated by fate: it is the outcome of nationalist policies that are aimed to expand the boundaries of the Jewish state into territories inhabited by another nation.
To maintain control over the Palestinian people and its land, Israel corrupts its own state machinery: those who are in charge of the legal system turn crime into legal action; those who have the mandate to judge release their sure grip on justice, and those with executive power find themselves forced to soil their hands as they obey orders.
A human being among other humans, I, Yuval, feel committed to some basic values without which we cannot exist. I have been studying and learning about the occupation these past years, I feel its pains and as I do so I am becoming familiar with the ills of humankind. What I see is that with every additional day when Palestinians are kept by force on their lands, my country manages to crush one more value, one more rule. What I see is a country guided by the inanity of its leaders, a country in thrall to an insatiable hunger for another street, another tree to cram into its shattered borders. I see with what ease our parents close their eyes to the atrocities that are being committed in our name. I see how we are all turning inwards, just so we may not have to hear the screams that are reaching us from the other side. All known human atrocities have been possible only because of blind obedience, silence, and an indifference to the fate of the other.
It is because of all this that I regard it my moral duty to refuse serving in the army. My conscience does not allow me to join an organization that demolishes, by fiat of the state, the homes of innocent people, kills children who are not part of the armed fighting, and which prevents sick people from getting due treatment. The army interferes with the freedom of movement, undermines human rights and robs people of their land because they are not Jews. Implementing government orders, the Israeli army brings oppression and terror upon three and a half million Palestinians.
With every day that passes, more people sink into this mire – these people are not bad, they are ordinary people, Jews and Palestinians who don't resist evil and do bad things, things that are too bad. They have been told to do these things, things that are drenched in pain as well as things of whose evil they are unaware.
Today I know what they want me to do and in what they wish me to participate and I understand that I was not raised to do such things, things that I will not want to tell my children. Nobody should have to do such things.
I am convinced that it is no one but ourselves who determines that it is our fate to live by the sword. There is another way, which is not the way of war. This is the path of dialogue, of understanding, of concession, forgiveness, of peace.
I believe that a person should take responsibility and feel reconciled to the way he chooses. This is why I shall not join an army behind whose actions I cannot stand and whose behavior I cannot justify.
Yuval Oron-Ofir
November 2008