I can find no difference between right-wing and left-wing refusal to serve. Both are just as unacceptable. This said, I am disappointed with Yishay Mor’s inability to be open enough to argue in favor of right-wing refusal. I would expect him, of all people, as a refusenik himself, to be, at least, understanding of the right-wing refuseniks.
And I am disappointed with the weakness of his argument against them.
He brings up Yigal Amir. I find it hard to see the relevancy. Yigal Amir is not a refusnik and no one, as far as I know, is calling him one, besides Yishay. Yigal Amir is a political assassin.
He brings up the rabbis inciting to refusal. Also a diversion, although more relevant, seeing as a religious Jew is expected to act as instructed by his rabbi. But when we talk of refusal, it is always a personal act - one man or one woman standing up and being prepared to pay a personal price for his or her convictions.
“I refused,” Yishay explains, “because I believed that my act was an extreme measure required to protect the existence of Israel as a just, democratic state.” But right-wing refuseniks may see their refusal as an extreme measure required to protect the existence of Israel, period. Moral equivalence? Democracy and Justice versus Self Defense and Physical Survival. Who is to judge between them?
It’s the occupation, silly, Yishay says, more or less. But right-wing refuseniks don’t think it’s the occupation at all. Right-wing refuseniks think it’s the village where they were born and where they grew up. It’s where their parents and brothers and sisters and cousins, and everyone they know, have all lived for thirty years.
I am disappointed with Yishay, who seems to be an intelligent, sensitive person. I am disappointed that he seems unable to see that not only has he no right to “object to their refusal on moral grounds”, but that if his own refusal, which he sees as justified and moral, is legitimate, it actually gives theirs a moral legitimacy too. That is the essence of the democracy that he claims he wishes to protect.
Saturday, October 30, 2004