First 50, then 100, and now more
than 200 reservists - officers and soldiers - of the Israeli Defence
Force (IDF) have signed a public letter, refusing to serve in the
Occupied Territories. They say that "the price of Occupation
[of the West Bank and Gaza Strip] is the loss of IDF’s human
character and the corruption of the entire Israeli society." They
therefore "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."
The ’refuseniks’, as they have been dubbed, have their own website,
where you can find many messages praising and supporting their courage and
bravery, but others that call them traitors, cowards, and fools. Israeli society
is deeply divided, and while there are those who want a just peace and who
despair and are ashamed of the actions of the Sharon government, there are
others for whom peace means in effect the subjugation of the Palestinian people.
Other reservists, only this time a group of ex-generals, are openly canvassing
a plan which involves the military occupation of Palestinian cities in the
Occupied Territories, the destruction of the Palestinian Authority, and a declaration
that no other sovereignty than that of Israel will be recognised west of the
Jordan River. The same ex-generals are openly advocating the gerrymandering
of electoral boundaries in Israel itself in order to reduce the level of representation
of Israeli Arabs in the Knesset, the country’s parliament.
But such extreme proposals are
not only coming from outside the government and the IDF. Benny
Elon of the rightwing Moledet Party, and tourism minister in Israel’s
coalition government, is preaching ’transfer’ as a
solution to the conflict. This he says will be based on the principle: "I
will close the universities to you, I will make your lives difficult,
until you want to leave".