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Courage to Refuse > Press > Three Comments on the Pilots' Letter - by Rafi Man
Three Comments on the Pilots' Letter - by Rafi Man 02/10/2003
 
 

It is very good that there are people, either wearing G-suits or not, who do not bow their heads in silence, but rather speak up their voice, out loud, against the continuation of the occupation and against the aggressive policy, which not only does not eliminate terrorism, but makes it worse.

 

The Letter

The counter attack by the military, from the Minister of Defense down, on the pilots who signed the refusal letter, left me confused. On the one hand, we were given the explanation that most of them were not even active in extermination missions, and on the other hand we were handed a series of arguments against the right of the pilots to express their thoughts, as well as on the content of their claims. But within the dust of the attack, the main issue has disappeared: We are not dealing with legal issues, nor procedural issues, but with something more fundamental and important - the moral issue.

Contrary to what was said here this week, the letter did not hurt Israel's security, nor its vigor. The opposite is true: the fact that among the soldiers there are those who are concerned of the heavy moral implications, not only of hurting innocent people during the extermination activities, but also of the occupation itself, is evidence to the strength of the society.

It is very good that there are people, either wearing G-suits or not, who do not bow their heads in silence, but rather speak up their voice, out loud, against the continuation of the occupation and against the aggressive policy, which not only does not eliminate terrorism, but makes it worse.

In situations of crisis, there is a need of people who can shake the system with a public and significant act of protest. When colonel Eli Geva in 1982 refused to lead his troops into the heart of Beirut, he absorbed a lot of criticism, but his brave action had an important yield: it sharpened the public discussion on the severe danger of the aggressive policy of Ariel Sharon. The same thing happens now.

 

The Boycott

The raesponses were nothing but predictable: there are those who demand bringing the pilots to trial; and there are those who suggest boycotting El-Al airline, which employs some of the pilots, and to purge the writings of the authors who support the pilots from the education system. The witch hunt which is driven by some in the right wing fits well in their general way of thinking: they wish to eliminate any kind of public discussion about profound existential questions, and to terrorize anyone who dares to express a different opinion. And apropos boycott: it is strange that this demand comes from the "seminary" of the settlers. Isn't it them who cry in despair whenever somebody boycotts products from the settlements, as a non-violent protest?

 

The Achievement

Reality, one must admit, is depressing. The bulldozers are building new roads in the occupied territories; concrete mixers lay the foundations to more and more houses in the settlements; and the new data show that the number of the settlers keeps climbing. On the other hand, the left can demonstrate (which it doesn't do enough), sign petitions, or send courageous refusal letters, or even make tremendously generous offers of peace to the Palestinians. But all those deeds, important and appropriate as they might be, are nothing more than talk.

But yet, there is one achievement to be happy about: in spite of the fact setting by the settlers, they did not succeed to blur the Green Line out (the border of the State of Israel prior to the 1967 war). There is a clear and sharp distinction, in the Israeli discussion as well as in the international one, between what Israel is doing "at home", within the boundaries of the State, and what it is doing outside its borders, i.e. in the territories occupied in 1967. At this point, the voice of saneness has prevailed upon the hum of annexation, and upon the effort of the right wing people to make believe in one entity. The Letter of the Pilots is another, blessed reminder for that.


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