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Author Topic: Pilots refusing to serve in territories will face law
majorvictory
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posted 24 September 2003 11:26 PM      Profile for majorvictory     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
The head of the Israel Air Force, Major General DanHalutz, said Wednesday that the pilots who have signaled their refusal to take part in operations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip "will have to face the law."

quote:
A group of 27 active reserve duty pilots and retired pilots have sent a letter to Halutz
declaring that they refuse to participate in operations against Palestinians in the
territories.

"We, veteran pilots and active pilots alike, who have served and who continue to serve the State of Israel for many weeks every year, are opposed to carrying out illegal and immoral attack orders,
of the type carried out by Israel in the
territories," the group wrote.

"We, who have been educated to love the state of
Israel and to contribute to the Zionist
endeavour, refuse to take part in Air Force
attacks in civilian population centers."

The group was referring to Israel's policy of
targeted killings of Palestinian militants in
the territories. Dozens of civilians have been
killed in these strikes, which began a few
months after the intifada erupted in late
September 2000.

News that a group of pilots opposed to the
targeted killing policy was coalescing, was
first published in Haaretz a week ago.

"The pilots refusing to follow orders will have
to face the law," Halutz told Channel 10 in
response to the letter.




From: Toronto | Registered: Jul 2002  |  IP: Logged
Courage
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posted 24 September 2003 11:34 PM      Profile for Courage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by majorvictory:
The head of the Israel Air Force, Major General DanHalutz, said Wednesday that the pilots who have signaled their refusal to take part in operations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip "will have to face the law."


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just
man is in jail.

-- Henry David Thoreau


From: Earth | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
josh
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posted 25 September 2003 03:05 PM      Profile for josh     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
More on the story:

"The rebel pilots were lambasted Thursday in commentary in newspapers and radio talk shows. Critics accused the pilots of being immature, naive or having a secret political agenda.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was quoted as saying the protest was a “grave matter” and would be dealt with swiftly. Former Israeli president Ezer Weizman, who commanded the air force in the 1960s, said the pilots' stance was immoral and belittled their apparent idealism as a “holier-than-thou attitude."

http://tinyurl.com/onwi

[ 25 September 2003: Message edited by: josh ]


From: the twilight zone between the U.S. and Canada | Registered: Aug 2002  |  IP: Logged
Blind_Patriot
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posted 25 September 2003 04:22 PM      Profile for Blind_Patriot     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
"If their idea is accepted, Ahmed Yassin and his compatriots in the Hamas leadership will be able to plan the next murder of Jewish children on a Jerusalem bus without interference,"
On the contrary I think.

web page


From: North Of The Authoritarian Regime | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged
Foxer
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posted 25 September 2003 06:32 PM      Profile for Foxer     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
If WW2 taught us one thing, its that it is absolutely critical that military officers and soldiers have the right to refuse an order that they consider to be unethical. There are always reprocussions, such as dismissal from the service, but almost every country now recognizes that soldiers must have the ability to do that. If they are suggesting that they may imprison or otherwise unduely punish these men for delcaring their intent based on moral grounds, they should remember how many jews died because soldiers felt they 'had to follow his orders'.
From: Vancouver BC | Registered: Jul 2003  |  IP: Logged
April Follies
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posted 25 September 2003 06:41 PM      Profile for April Follies   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Well said, Foxer. The world now has internationally recognized standards of the treatment of civilians by the military, and holds military members responsible for refusing to follow orders that would lead them into committing war crimes. By international standards, these airmen are doing precisely the right and moral thing.

How difficult it must be for them, however, I can only imagine. I complain about being under stress merely for holding opinions that are locally unpopular. How much more stressful must it be to endure the sort of vituperation the far-right in Israel is heaping on these men? Not to mention the very real possibilities of prison and other penalties.

One finds that there are greater braveries than going into battle. Sometimes, ironically, these involve not going into battle. These brave men of conscience have my deepest respect - and I suspect that next generation's Spielberg will be making movies in their honour.


From: Help, I'm stuck in the USA | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
Pimji
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posted 27 September 2003 02:16 AM      Profile for Pimji   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I'd like to add a piece of history. Objection by conscience has had a profound effect on being a major contributor to stopping the senseless slaughter of humans and humanity.


Donald Dawson was a young Air Force captain, a Christian Scientist, serving as a B-52 copilot at Utapo, Thailand. He had been flying B-52s since the end of 1971, but throughout 1972 he found it impossible to ignore the consequences of his work. When he returned home at the end of his first tour he found himself obsessed with the deaths he had inflicted. Watching West Side Story on television one night he could see nothing but falling bombs and screaming people. In the spring of 1971 he was sent on a second tour to bomb Cambodia; he found each of the 25 he flew more difficult to reconcile with his conscience. He became particularly upset by a report that a Cambodian wedding party had been “boxed” by B-52s. This made him think constantly of the “reverence” in which he held his own wedding-he considered it the most important event in his life, and “having the actual ceremony devastated by a B-52 attack is beyond comprehension.” It forced him, he said, to realize that the Cambodians were human beings and to recognize that non military targets were being hit.

Then he read Solzhenitsyn’s 1941 and appreciated more fully the impact that iron missiles have upon human flesh. On June 19, 1973, he refused to fly. He talked to the chaplain and the flight surgeon about the chances of applying for conscientious-objector status . the doctor advised that he be taken off flying duties, but his commanding officer Colonel Bill V. Brown gave him a direct order to fly. Dawson disobeyed it and court marshal proceedings were begun.
With the help of a competent young military counsel, he then joined three B-52 officers and a first-term member of Congress from New York, Elizabeth Holtzman, in a lawsuit the American Civil Liberties Union was conducting to have the United States courts declare the bombing of Cambodia illegal.

Excerpt from Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon, and the Destruction of Cambodia by William Shawcross, page 291, Published by Cooper Square Press , copy write 1987 by William Shawcross ISBN: 0-8154-1224-X (paperback)

Alas, the illegal bombing of Cambodia provided the catalyst for a greater debauchery of humanity that had yet to take place.


From: South of Ottawa | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Pimji
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posted 27 September 2003 02:23 AM      Profile for Pimji   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Well stated Foxer. I'd say yor post above belongs in the Best of Babble section.
From: South of Ottawa | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
lagatta
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posted 27 September 2003 10:01 AM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Here is an article of Uri Avnery, from the Israeli peace movement Gush Shalom (and himself a former army officer) on the refusnik pilots. Sorry, it's rather long, but I received it as a word file from the Gush Shalom list, not a URL.

Uri Avnery 27.9.03 The Magnificent 27

A year and a half ago, a small group of Israelis decided to break a deeply entrenched taboo and bring up the subject of war crimes. Until then, it was self-evident that the IDF is “the most moral and humane army in the world”, as the official mantra goes, and is therefore quite incapable of such things.

The Gush Shalom movement (to which I belong) called a public meeting in Tel-Aviv and invited a group of professors and public figures to discuss whether our army is committing such crimes. The star of the evening was Col. Yig’al Shohat, a war hero shot down over Egypt in the Yom Kippur war. His damaged leg had to be amputated by an Egyptian surgeon. Upon his return, he studied medicine and became a doctor himself.

In a voice trembling with emotion, he read out a personal appeal to his comrades, the Air Force pilots, calling on them to refuse orders over which “the black flag of illegality is waving” (a phrase coined by the military judge at the Kafr Kassem massacre trial in 1957). For example, orders to drop bombs on Palestinian residential neighborhoods for “targeted liquidations”.

The speech aroused a strong echo, but the army command succeeded in “damage control”. The Air Force commander, General Dan Halutz, perhaps the most extremist IDF officer except Chief-of-Staff Moshe Ya’alon, was asked what he feels when he releases a bomb over a Palestinian neighborhood and answered: “I feel a slight bump.” He added that after such an attack he “sleeps very well.”

It seemed as if Shohat’s call had evaporated into thin air – but not any more. The seed has matured slowly. This process accelerated after a pilot released a one-ton bomb over a residential neighborhood in Gaza in order to kill a Hamas leader, abruptly ending the lives of 17 bystanders, men, women and children. Many pilots were deeply troubled by this. Now the conscience of 27 of them has spoken out.

In Israeli mythology, combat pilots are the elite of the elite. Many of them are Kibbutz-boys, who were once considered the aristocracy of Israel. Ezer Weitzman, a former Air Force commander, once coined the phrase “The Best Boys for Flying” (and immediately added, in the typical macho style of the Force, “and the Best Girls for the Flyers”.)

The pilots are bought up from an early age to believe that we are always right, and that our opponents are vile murderers. That the army commanders never make a mistake. That an order is an order, and theirs is not to reason why. That professionalism is the highest virtue. That problems have to be solved inside the Force. That one does not question the authority of the political leadership. There exists a whole mythology about the part played by the Force in the Israeli victories in all our wars: from the tiny Piper planes in 1948, the destruction of the Egyptian Air Force in the Yom Kippur war of 1973, and so forth.

The Air Force does not, of course, take in non-conformists. Candidates for flight training are scrutinized carefully. The force chooses solid, disciplined youngsters who can be relied on, both as to their character and their views, Zionists and the sons of Zionists.

Moreover, the Air Force is a clan, a sect whose members are ferociously loyal to the Force and to each other, There have never been public quarrels or signs of mutiny in the Air Force.

All this explains why the pilots struggled with themselves for so long, before they found in themselves the inner strength required for such an extraordinary, morally courageous act as publishing this appeal.

The 27 Air Force pilots informed their commander that from now on they would refuse to fulfil “immoral and illegal orders” that would cause the death of civilians. At the end of their statement, they criticized the occupation that is corrupting Israel and undermining its security.

The most senior officer among the signatories is Major General Yiftah Spector, who is also a living legend. He is the son of one of the “23 men in the boat”, a group that was sent in World War II to demolish oil installations in Lebanon (at the time under Nazi-puppet Vichy French control) and never heard of again. Yiftah Spector was the instructor of many of the present commanders of the Air Force. Altogether, the statement was signed by one general, 2 colonels, 9 lieutenant colonels, 8 majors and 7 captains.

Such a thing is unprecedented in Israel. Because of the special standing of the Air Force, the refusal evoked a much louder echo than the refusal movement of the ground troops that seems to have leveled out, for the moment, at about 500 refuseniks.

The army establishment, the real government of Israel, sensed the danger and reacted as it had never reacted before. It started a wild campaign of defamation, incitement and character assassination. The heroes of yesterday were turned overnight into enemies of the people. All parts of the government – from ex-president Ezer Weitzman to the Attorney General (who already has his eye on a seat in the Supreme Court), from the Foreign Office to the politicians of the Labor and Meretz parties – were mobilized in order to crush the mutiny of the pilots.

The counter-attack was headed by the media. Never before did they expose their real face as on this occasion. All TV channels, all radio networks and all newspaper – without exception! - revealed themselves as servants and mouthpieces of the army command. The liberal Haaretz, too, devoted its front page to a ferocious attack on the pilots, without giving space to the other point of view.

It was impossible to switch on a TV set without encountering the Air Force commander, and after him a long line of establishment figures who, one after another, condemned the pilots. Army camps were opened to the cameras, loyal officers damned their comrades as “traitors” who had “stuck a knife in our backs”. Except for one single interview on Channel 2, the “refusers” were not given any opportunity at all to explain their point of view or answer their detractors.

No doubt: the establishment is worried. Perhaps it may succeed in containing the protest this time and deterring other potential mutineers by spreading defamation, fear and punishment. But the message of the 27 has been written and nothing can change that.

With this sortie the flyers have served the State of Israel more than on any of the hundreds of others in the course of their army service. Some day Israel will recognize the huge debt it owes to the valiant 27.


From: Se non ora, quando? | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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posted 27 September 2003 03:45 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Army camps were opened to the cameras, loyal officers damned their comrades as “traitors” who had “stuck a knife in our backs”.

This interesting statement has more than a few echoes to another time, in another country, when a myth arose of a group of "traitors" that had been "stabbing us in the back".

That myth fatally weakened the country's democratic government for years and helped create a mythology that many conservative politicians (who openly despised democracy) could wrap themselves in, so as to convince the electorate to allow them to take the reins of power.

Let us hope that Israelis do not make the same mistake of assuming that one group of Israeli patriots stabbed another group in the back. Let us also hope that this does not portend a wide rift in Israeli society which will hobble that country for years to come.


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Foxer
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posted 27 September 2003 11:11 PM      Profile for Foxer     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
This interesting statement has more than a few echoes to another time, in another country, when a myth arose of a group of "traitors" that had been "stabbing us in the back".


It's a little chilling isn't it. I mean thats almost word for word. I think the israelies have been 'staring into the abyss' too long.

You know, it would almost be fair to say that a measure of a country to how close it's moved towards tyranny is how much freedom it gives its military to act as their personal ethics dictate.


From: Vancouver BC | Registered: Jul 2003  |  IP: Logged
majorvictory
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posted 09 October 2003 04:11 PM      Profile for majorvictory     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Israel jails Canadian `refusenik'

quote:
JERUSALEM—A Canadian-born Israeli reserve soldier has been jailed for refusing to serve in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, citing "reasons of conscience."

Dan Goldenblatt, 33, a Montreal native, declined the order to deploy to the territories Tuesday morning after returning from a funeral for a friend killed in last weekend's Palestinian suicide bombing in the Israeli port city of Haifa, in which 19 civilians died.

Officers at the Israeli Defence Forces base at Yokneam immediately tried Goldenblatt, a paratrooper battle medic, sentencing him to 28 days. His detention began yesterday at an Israeli military prison near the northern Israeli town of Atlit.

"Until today, I have never refused to obey an order. I always came when called, with my army boots, hat and uniform," Goldenblatt said in a written statement to his superiors obtained by the Star.

"For reasons of conscience, I refuse to take part in acts of occupation. I refuse to give any Palestinian even the slightest additional reason to participate in terrorist acts, to hate my country. I refuse to participate in the policy of revolving and stupid revenge of the current government of Israel, which believes in power and lacks initiative or hope," Goldenblatt said.

"And I refuse to guard the poisonous and extremely costly settlements, which are the foundation of the policy of oppression and occupation.

"I believe with all my heart that in refusing to serve in the occupied territories, I am serving the State of Israel in the most important manner."

In a dramatic declaration last month, 27 Israeli pilots vowed to abstain from flying "assassination strikes" in densely populated Palestinian areas.

Goldenblatt was a toddler when his Montreal-born parents moved to Israel in the early 1970s. His family has always maintained close ties to Canada, his father said in an interview last night.

"I'm proud of him, I agree with him 100 per cent, but at the same time I'm not happy about it," David Goldenblatt, 62, said.

"The question is what happens after 28 days? The army has jailed several dozen so-called `refuseniks,' and at least one of them keeps having his detention renewed. He's spent months in jail."



From: Toronto | Registered: Jul 2002  |  IP: Logged
al-Qa'bong
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posted 10 October 2003 03:22 AM      Profile for al-Qa'bong   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
CBC TV news aired a letter from a Toronto woman just after this story broke. The woman said that the pilots' ability to withdraw from the fight without censure was proof that Israel was "democratic" and somehow superior to those savage Arab countries that surround her.

Now that the pilots are being jailed I wonder what she would write.

quote:
"For reasons of conscience, I refuse to take part in acts of occupation. I refuse to give any Palestinian even the slightest additional reason to participate in terrorist acts, to hate my country. I refuse to participate in the policy of revolving and stupid revenge of the current government of Israel, which believes in power and lacks initiative or hope," Goldenblatt said.

If we had a Middle East Forum Hall of Fame, this statement would be hung over the entrance.

[ 10 October 2003: Message edited by: al-Qa'bong ]


From: Saskatchistan | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
lagatta
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posted 10 October 2003 10:14 AM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Thanks for finding that article, Major Victory. Especially since the reserve medic is originally a Montreal boy, I'll send it round to several people here and elsewhere.

What I find most significant about Dan Goldenblatt's refusal is that it came in the wake of the killing of a friend in that horrific suicide bombing at the Haifa café Maxim. Realising that the suicide bomber was also taking revenge and that it was a cycle that would only mean disaster for Palestinians and Israelis alike.

Some of the members of PAJU here are writing letters to refuseniks in jail. I'm sure Dan Goldenblatt would be particularly interested in hearing from Canadians.

As the leaves do turn golden, I might add, waxing autumnally poetic...


From: Se non ora, quando? | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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posted 10 October 2003 10:40 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
How does one do that, lagatta?

Goldenblatt's statement is inspiring, I agree. And there's lagatta, with such a lovely play on words -- oh, lagatta, you poet you.

PS: Foxer, I have never read this thread before, but I was so impressed by your first post above. Standing ovation.


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
pogge
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posted 10 October 2003 10:47 AM      Profile for pogge   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by skdadl:
PS: Foxer, I have never read this thread before, but I was so impressed by your first post above. Standing ovation.

I'll second that.

Damn flood control.


From: Why is this a required field? | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
majorvictory
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posted 11 October 2003 12:15 PM      Profile for majorvictory     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Witness for the prosecution

quote:
By Ari Shavit

Playwright Joshua Sobol has decided to support the petition of the pilots against flying combat missions in the territories. Cautious of drawing historical analogies, he sees dangerous signs of fascism in the Israeli public's chorus of support of militantism.

The place: a spacious living room in a handsome one-story house in a well cultivated prestigious Israeli community. A faded olive-green sofa and old-style rattan chairs and a large white coffee table, in the center of which stands a huge vodka bottle filled with water and a bottle of vintage whiskey.

The time: midnight, at the end of a day in which the literary community in Israel was in an uproar about two or three different petitions that in one way or another support the Israel Air Force pilots who signed a letter stating that they will refuse to fly combat missions in the territories.

The cast: the playwright Joshua Sobol, who has just signed one of the petitions, his cordial wife, Edna, and an interviewer.

First they talk about the play, "Eye Witness." About the decision Sobol made about two years ago to write in the course of this war about a conscientious objector in that war. And about how he sat here, in his writing shed in in the garden and devoted himself to the moral power of the Austrian Catholic peasant Franz Jaegerstatter, who in 1943 refused to be recruited into the Nazi army, took a position against the Nazi establishment and paid for it with his life.

At this stage of the conversation Sobol wishes to be very cautious. Not to claim that there are any lines of similarity. On the contrary, the reason he chose Jaegerstaetter is that there is no similarity. No place for comparison. He never maintained that there is any place for comparison. But precisely the distancing of the testimony is what makes it possible for the Israeli audiences that are flocking to see the play at the Cameri Theater in Tel Aviv to identify with the stance taken by an individual against the regime; to identify with the moral outcry of the individual who struggles courageously against the crushing power of the regime.




From: Toronto | Registered: Jul 2002  |  IP: Logged
Courage
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posted 11 October 2003 05:22 PM      Profile for Courage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by majorvictory:
Witness for the prosecution


Sounds a lot like having your cake and eating it too...

'Signs of fascism'? Where there's smoke....


From: Earth | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
majorvictory
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posted 04 December 2003 03:36 AM      Profile for majorvictory     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
'We're air force pilots, not mafia. We don't take revenge'

quote:
Israel's F-16 and Black Hawk refuseniks say why they could not obey illegal orders and kill innocent Palestinians

Chris McGreal in Tel Aviv
Wednesday December 3, 2003
The Guardian

For two months, a rebel group of Israeli Black Hawk helicopter and F-16 fighter pilots has been denounced as traitors for saying they will no longer bomb Palestinian cities.
Until now they have maintained a resolute silence on their motives, preferring to limit their criticism of Ariel Sharon's war to a letter signed by 27 reserve and active duty pilots refusing to carry out what they described as illegal orders, and denouncing the occupation as eating at the moral fabric of Israel.

Now, having been thrown out of the air force, they are talking publicly about what brought members of the most revered branch of the Israeli military to make an unprecedented challenge to the handling of the conflict with the Palestinians.

"I served more than seven years as a pilot," said Captain Alon R, who, like all the younger pilots, hopes to return to combat flying and so declines to use his full name in order to retain his security clearance. "In the beginning, we were pilots who believed our country would do all it could to achieve peace. We believed in the purity of our arms and that we did all we could to prevent unnecessary loss of life.

"Somewhere in the last few years it became harder and harder to believe that is the case."

The line was crossed for most of the pilots with the dropping of the one-tonne bomb last year on the home of a Hamas military leader, Salah Shehade, killing him and 14 of his family, mostly children.

One captain described the bombing as deliberate killing, murder even. Another called it state terrorism, though some colleagues swiftly stomped on that interpretation. But they all agreed that the attack sowed the doubts that resulted a year later in the letter that sent shockwaves through the Israeli military.

"The Shehade incident was a red light for us, a final warning," said Capt Alon R. "With Shehade I began to re-evaluate my beliefs. We killed 14 innocent people, nine of them children. After my commander gave an interview in which he said he sleeps well at night and his men can do the same. Well, I can't. We refused to see it as an innocent mistake."



From: Toronto | Registered: Jul 2002  |  IP: Logged

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