Natan Blanc: Heroic Israeli Refusenik
by Stephen Lendman
Israel's a rogue terror state. It's been so from inception. It's history is blood-drenched. It's a global menace.
It's current government is its worst ever. It prioritizes state terrorism. Palestinians live in the eye of the storm.
Israeli children are indoctrinated to be warriors. They're taught to hate. They're brainwashed to view Arabs and Iranians as existential threats. With some exceptions, conscription is mandatory at age 18.
Under-age youths may enlist. Child recruitment is done informally. Women serve like men. Israeli citizens and permanent residents must comply. Arabs are excluded. They may volunteer if they wish.
Classroom education teaches children to view military service as "noble and worthy." When too young to understand, they're brainwashed to accept militarism and belligerence as normal and necessary. They're falsely told Israel's survival depends on it.
Soldiers are present in schools and classrooms. Teachers and principals are retired military officers. Photos of fallen heroes adorn walls. Field trips for all ages visit military memorials on former battlefields.
Beginning in kindergarten, textbooks and classroom instruction teach militarism. High schools have mandatory "preparation for the IDF" programs. They include training and indoctrination to be warriors. Military heroes and conquests are glorified. Arabs are vilified.
Militarism is a way of life. War is considered natural. Youths are indoctrinated to wage it. Military service is considered a rite of passage to adulthood. An entire population is brainwashed to fight.
Natan Blanc's an Israeli conscientious objector (CO). He's a refusenik. He and many others like him are called that for refusing to serve wrong over right. They resist proudly and courageously. More on Blanc below.
In 2002, 50 Israeli officers and soldiers founded Courage to Refuse. Over 600 now belong. They're called refuseniks. They explain as follows:
"We, reserve combat officers and soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces, who were raised upon the principles of Zionism, self-sacrifice and giving to the people of Israel and to the State of Israel, who have always served in the front lines, and who were the first to carry out any mission in order to protect the State of Israel and strengthen it.
We, combat officers and soldiers who have served the State of Israel for long weeks every year, in spite of the dear cost to our personal lives, have been on reserve duty in the Occupied Territories, and were issued commands and directives that had nothing to do with the security of our country, and that had the sole purpose of perpetuating our control over the Palestinian people.
We, whose eyes have seen the bloody toll this Occupation exacts from both sides,
We, who sensed how the commands issued to us in the Occupied Territories destroy all the values that we were raised upon,
We, who understand now that the price of Occupation is the loss of IDF’s human character and the corruption of the entire Israeli society,
We, who know that the Territories are not a part of Israel, and that all settlements are bound to be evacuated,
We hereby declare that we shall not continue to fight this War of the Settlements.
We shall not continue to fight beyond the 1967 borders in order to dominate, expel, starve and humiliate an entire people.
We hereby declare that we shall continue serving the Israel Defense Force in any mission that serves Israel’s defense.
The missions of occupation and oppression do not serve this purpose - and we shall take no part in them."
On November 19, 2012, Blanc refused to served. He declared himself a CO. He opposes Israel's lawless occupation.
On November 22, 2012, he was sentenced to 10 days in prison. Nine subsequent incarcerations followed. On May 13, 2013, it was for the 10th time.
On May 30, Israel's Defense Forces Exemption Committee declared him unfit for duty.
On June 6, he'll be released. He'll have been imprisoned 178 days. He's done it for supporting right over wrong. It exacted a price. He willingly paid it.
His declaration of refusal said the following:
"As elected officials, the members of the government are under no obligation to spell out their vision for the country's future, and they have the right to pursue this bloody cycle with no end in sight."
"But we, as citizens, as human beings, have a moral duty to refuse to play this cynical game."
Haaretz interviewed him in prison. It took place by phone. Asked how he's doing, he replied:
"Besides the fact that it’s hard to get used to the severe heat, I’m doing fine."
"When I reported for my current incarceration, the 10th, I was disappointed about once more facing 28 long days in jail."
"But the first week went by quite fast, and the second will, too. So, if we ignore the heat for a moment, life in Prison 6 is pretty easy."
He performed kitchen duty. He made salads. He washed and polished utensils. "I have become an expert in scouring frying pans," he said.
Asked how he handles crises or anger, he said:
"I remind myself that you don't have to take everything too seriously, and especially not the hard things in life."
"When I feel low, I remind myself that I am doing the right thing, that I had no other choice and that there was no other moral act I could have chosen. I do not forget that I am in jail by choice."
He copes best he can. Doing the right thing is its own reward.
"From the outset of my struggle, my aim was not to preach in favor of one approach or another," he said.
"I repeat: My reason for refusing is one of conscience. The option of seeing a mental health officer in order to get a discharge, because it’s tough for me in prison, or for some psychological reason, is not relevant. I also think that people who take that route are making a mistake."
"Throughout, my actions have been dictated solely by my conscience. It is essential to be obstinate and speak your truth, down to the last comma. That is the only thing that can influence society when it must decide on issues of principleâ€¦."
On May 16, 36 Israeli university law faculty members wrote IDF Military Advocate General Brig. General Danny Efroni.
They urged Blanc's release. Enough is enough. His right to refuse has been compromised. His freedom of conscience has been harmed.
Petitions circulated on his behalf. His supporters ran two international campaigns. Haifa University Professor David Blanc is Natan's father.
Professor Kobi Peter (Peterzil) knows the family. "It's hard to know if (Natan) is the 'last Mohican,' he said.
"Maybe his actions will give rise to something. He is doing what he feels deep inside. He is neither arrogant nor prideful, and has no desire for fame. Nor does he think, 'I know better than others.' "
"He seems to have given the matter a great deal of thought before launching his struggle."
"I see it as climbing a high mountain, but we have to remember that he did not travel to a distant land to find himself: He was inducted at the age of 19, after spending a year doing community service."
"In his declaration of refusal, he speaks directly into the camera and explains how he perceives citizenship, which for him entails responsibility for Israel's actions in the territories for the past 46 years."
"Natan, who views citizenship as a binding obligation, is as stubborn as his parents. He is made of the stuff of heroes."
"Part of what he is doing is aimed at opening a door and laying a foundation for recognition of a conscientious objector's right to refuse to serve."
On November 19, 2012, Blanc reported for induction as required. It was during Israel's Operation Pillar of Cloud.
It ravaged Gaza for eight days. It was lawless premeditated aggression. Crimes of war and against humanity were committed.
Around 170 Palestinians died. Over 1,000 were injured. Nearly half were women and children. At least 963 houses were damaged or destroyed.
They included 10 health centers, 35 schools, 2 universities, 15 NGO offices, 30 mosques, 14 media offices, 92 industrial and commercial facilities, 1 UNWRA food distribution center, 8 government buildings, 14 police/security stations, 5 banks, 34 vehicles, 3 youth clubs, 3 cemeteries, and 2 bridges.
What happened reinforced his beliefs. Operation Cast Lead appalled him. What happened formed his mindset. He considered resisting. His statement after first being imprisoned said:
"The wave of aggressive militarism that swept the country then, the expressions of mutual hatred, and the vacuous talk about stamping out terror and creating a deterrent effect were the primary triggers for my refusal."
Authorities, he said, aren't "interested in finding a solution to the existing situation, but rather in preserving it."
"We will talk of deterrence. We will kill some terrorist. We will lose some civilians on both sides, and we will prepare the ground for a new generation full of hatred on both sides."
We, as citizens and human beings, have a moral duty to refuse to participate in this cynical game."
Separately, he added:
"The war going on in this country for more than 60 years could have ended a long time ago."
"The occupation was supposed to be temporary, but now no one speaks of it ending." Israel keeps people "under our control." Democracy exists in name only. Rule of law principles are spurned. Collective punishment is policy.
May 15 is International Conscientious Objectors Day. It's commemorated worldwide. Refusing to kill is affirmed under international law. It's a fundamental human right.
It's based on the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:
"Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."
Article 19 states:
"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."
Articles 18 and 19 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) affirm the same rights. They're inviolable. Israel spurns them. It violates virtually all fundamental international laws.
On June 6, Natan will be released. Given Israel's longstanding abusive record and contempt for rule of law principles, it remains to be seen whether more recriminations follow. It's standard Israeli practice. Rogue states operate that way.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."