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IDF conscientious objectors explain reasons for rejecting military service

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Section: News

October 9, 2009

Conscientious objections: Maya Wind and Neta Mishly explain their reasons for rejecting the IDF draft.<br /><i>PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot</i>

Conscientious objections: Maya Wind and Neta Mishly explain their reasons for rejecting the IDF draft.
PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot

Two women who refused to serve in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) spoke to a full audience in Pearlman Hall on Monday night in an event organized by the Brandeis club Students for Justice in Palestine

Maya Wind and Neta Mishly, high school seniors who work with the Shministim Tour in conjunction with the Code Pink National Tour and the Jewish Voice for Peace, explained their reasons for refusing to enlist.

“In Israel, we are very much raised in fear. We are raised in fear of anyone who is not Jewish,” Wind said.

Wind and Mishly do not attempt to avoid the army through “draft dodging,” a list of five exemptions that many try to use in order to not join the army. These exemptions include religion, mental health, misfits, married women, and pacifists.

Instead, Wind and Mishly claim they have a right to not serve in the army, and as a result both women have served multiple sentences in jail.

The prison sentence for refusing a government order is usually seven to 35 days, but one can serve multiple sentences for refusing to join the army after his or her first term of imprisonment, Mishly said.

Wind and Mishly explained many reasons for opposing Israeli presence in the West Bank, including the locations and procedures of Isreali checkpoints.

“When there is a human being on the other side, there is always someone to talk to if you try hard enough,” Wind said.

The women want Israel to recognize the Greenline NOW as a border with Palestine. They also disapprove of the army’s strategies and morals when it comes to bombing raids.

“I don’t care if its Jewish blood or Palestinian blood that’s being spilled, I care that it’s human blood,” said Mishly.

Wind agreed, saying that preventative steps taken by the Israeli military to ensure no civilians are injured in bombings are not enough.

“Some people think that the IDF is the most moral army in the world [just] because we drop leaflets on peoples homes before we bomb them,” Wind said.

One man in the audience who served in the Israeli army from 1997-2000 was one of the few to disagree with Mishly and Wind. The room often applauded many of Wind’s comments, despite her asking the crowd not to do so.

“The presentation was one-sided, biased, and damaging. It ignored historical truths. I wish there were two states peacefully coexisting. To blame everything on us is simply unfair,” the man said.

Despite the few who tried to argue the other side of the debate, the audience showed an overwhelming support of the presentation.

“I think the event went quite good. It was an amazing presentation and it was great that the audience participated,” said Renana Gal, a board member of Students for Justice in Palestine.

An elderly women in the audience who identified herself to the speakers as a Holocaust surviver thanked Wind and Mishly for their presentation, saying, “if other young people use the way you do, we would live in a much better world.”

As the event came to an end, many stayed after to talk with Mishly and Wind as well as one another about the issues the lecture addressed.

“I feel like someone who opposes certain policies that the army takes shouldn’t disconnect themselves completely. They should still find ways to support those who are putting their lives in danger,” said Asher Krell ‘13, an active participant in the Hillel at Brandeis.

Krell acknowledged that it is important to hold presentations that address both sides of this controversial issue.

“One thing that is lacking [at Brandeis] is that Palestinian sentiment. It is so avoided here in the issues because of how much opposition it would get,” Krell said.

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