Photos by Ryan Rodrick Beiler
Moriel Rothman (second from left) approaches the draft office at Ammunition Hill in East Jerusalem, October 24, 2012. Rothman is refusing military service on the basis of conscientious objection to structural violence and the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Israeli Moriel Rothman is now serving his second 10-day jail term for refusing to serve in the Israeli military. Here is an excerpt from his own account of his latest visit to the army:
Commander: Hello! What was a nice boy like you doing in jail?
Me: Well, Iâm a pacifist.
C: Oh. Oh, I see. Oh. [type type type]
M: Yeah... So, Iâd like to be given a Conscience Committee.
C: Weâll check a few things and get back to you. Wait outside.
M: [wait wait wait].
C: Come on back in!
C: We checked a few things.
C: It seems that youâre request was denied for certain reasons.
M: Like what?
C: You didnât meet the criteria.
M: What criteria?
C: That we canât tell you.
Yoav Hass, a member of Yesh Gvul, offers a supportive handshake to Moriel Rothman as he prepares to report to his draft location.
M: Oh. Ok. So can I see a committee?
C: What weâll have you do is this â youâll do basic training, wonât even have to pick up a gun, and then weâll reconsider.
M: No. I refuse to do basic training. I refuse to take part in this system. Is there anyone else I can talk to?
C: You know, we have no choice but do use our army like we do.
M: Right, right, âthe army is against violence.â Will I be able to see a committee?
C: Wait outside.
M: [wait wait wait].
Soldier: Moriel Rothman?
Soldier: Come with me.
M: Where are we going, to a Committee?
S: Youâre going to go through the âchain of soldierizationâ (sharsheret hiul, shots, pictures, uniforms, numbers, practice wrestling match against a wild boar).
M: [sigh]. Nope, Iâm not.
S: Just come with me, you can tell them whatever you want.
Embraced by a supporting friend, Moriel Rothman prepares to report to his draft location. Supporter Noam Gur (background left), was also jailed for refusing Israeli military conscription.
Soldier takes me to, you guessed it, the Weirdos Room. There I am told I will see one more commander, and he will decide what to do with me. Ok. Meanwhile, I start chatting with the other folks in the weirdo room, encouraging them, telling them to remember not to be afraid, that they are stronger than the system.
And then, again, I am taken to the Grumpy White Man.
GWM: You again?
M: Yep. [I give him my letter again requesting a committee].
GWM: I see that the army already denied your request, so you have your answer.
M: I must say, I think itâs ridiculous that the army is so set on forcing those opposed to violence to join its ranks.
GWM: I think that youâre... That youâre ridiculous! You need to put on a uniform, and then theyâll deal with your little issues!
M: But thatâs my issue: I donât want to put on a uniform.
GWM: A shame, a shame. Iâm putting you under arrest. Good luck.
You can read more of Moriel's updates on his blog, The Leftern Wall. To learn how you can support him during this process, click here.