I am an Orthodox Jew and a criminal defense attorney in Tel Aviv.
I am also a tank gunner in reserve duty, and part of a group of 1000
soldiers who have refused to serve in the occupied territories [editor’s
note: Shamai is adding up the numbers on the ‘seruv’,
Profile lists; together they total well over
1000]. Many of them were imprisoned in military jails in the past
Now that President Bush has enlightened us
with his new "Plan" for the Middle East, we can only wonder
how long it will take him to realize that his plan is useless and
meaningless. Although his speech was riddled ith rosy
descriptions he envisions for the utopian Palestinian State in the
George W. Bush managed to avoid any mention of the present
situation in the same parcel of land where all these wonderful things
are to materialize. No mention of the fact that all West Bank cities had been
invaded by Israeli military forces; that hundreds of thousands of
inhabitants are imprisoned in their homes by a strict curfew, and that civilians
appearing on city streets are being shot at like dogs by Israeli tanks and
His failure to understand that no progress can
be made while a whole nation is being brutally occupied is the basic
flaw in his policy, and serves as the best explanation why his Middle
East plans have consistently become colossal failures. Bush's delusional
thinking that he can change the Palestinian leadership by delivering
a speech is mind-boggling. The American President thinks he can just do
away with any leader in the world he dislikes. This kind of
thinking is going to cost us a lot of bloodshed. It is only a matter of
time until Bush's "new outline" will turn to ashes as the
flames in this region reach higher and higher. Instead of offering a
glimmer of hope, his plans resemble the famous Biblical burning bush,
i.e. more of the same (see Exodus 3;2). This means more Israeli
occupation, which will result in more terror and more fatalities.
Clearly, the terror attacks are abhorrent. They have no
justification in any sane polity. However, no amount of condemnation will
stop them. Bush fails to comprehend that the suicide bombings are a
product of mass starvation and humiliation of the Palestinian people.
Bush's aides are doing us so much harm by refusing to acknowledge that
only an immediate end to the Israeli occupation will bring an
immediate end to the Palestinian uprising.
We are now witnessing a situation in which 3.5
million people have no future, no hope, no vision, other than to become
terrorists and avenge the continued harassment and shelling by the Israeli
army's helicopters, tanks and artillery. While Bush has never set foot
in this region, we have been living here, watching how the Palestinians
were trampled and denied basic rights on a daily basis, besieged
and occupied in every possible way. Our Jewish sources teach us that
where there is no justice, there is no peace. The idea behind the Oslo
accords, namely that we could "negotiate" a peace agreement
while remaining the Occupying Power, has proven to be romantic nonsense.
Can you expect a rape victim to negotiate with her attacker? Can you
expect a slave to negotiate with his master a "contract of
Most Israelis know deep in their hearts that
once we stop humiliating and oppressing this nation, we will return to
become a safe and secure democratic Israel living next to a viable
Palestinian State. Most intelligent people in the world understand that
the Palestinians had a right to a state of their own many years ago. And
there should have been an Israeli-Palestinian border marking the two
completely separate sovereign states. There is only one institution in
the world that is blind to this: the Israeli government.
This means it is up to us, Israeli soldiers,
to defend ourselves. Defend ourselves from our government. And this can
only be done through refusal to participate in the occupation. It is our
opinion that an Israeli soldier refusing to dominate and starve millions
of Palestinians is defending his state in the best possible way. The
reason is simple: If enough soldiers refuse, we will eventually force
our government to relinquish its death-grip over the West Bank and Gaza.
And this will save thousands of lives.
In a famous Jewish quote found in the Talmud,
it is said: "If I am not for myself, who will be for me?"
After Bush showed us how warped his understanding of reality is, he's
left it to ourselves to save our nation from complete demise. We will push
Bush aside, and do the job ourselves. We, the refusal movement, will
continue to grow until thousands of Israeli soldiers announce enough is
enough. Then, hopefully, this land which has been battleground for so
many years will become a place of refuge, vision and hope for all its