Meretz MK: Don’t Attack Refuser-Soldiers, Listen to Them

September 14, 2014  

Reservists who declared that they would not serve in the IDF because they were “morally opposed” to Israel’s policies in Judea and Samaria are not the problem, Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz said Sunday.

Going on record as one of the few MKs who did not criticize 43 leftist reservists in an elite intelligence unit for their declaration, Horowitz said that he had “great appreciation for people who are prepared to take on difficult tasks and to pay a price, sometimes a very heavy one, for their stance and refusal to perform duties that they conscientiously object to. That is how I see such people, not only on the left, but on the right,” he said.

On Friday, 43 reserve force officers and soldiers in the prestigious Unit 8200 submitted a letter of insubordination to the Israeli media. The soldiers, who include extremist leftist activists, complained that their service to Israel’s security “harms innocents. There is an idea that serving in the intelligence corps does not include moral dilemmas, and only contributes to the lessening of violence and harm to innocents. But during our military service we learned that the intelligence corps is an inseparable part of the military control of the territories (Judea and Samaria – ed.).”

Political, military, and social leaders, regardless of their political feelings, have spoken out against the reservists over the past several days. Political and military figures from Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to Opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog – who is himself a reservist officer in Unit 8200 – have flocked to condemn reservists. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said “I am opposed to insubordination, whether it comes from the left or the right, full stop. There are other, more appropriate ways to be heard.”

Labor MK Shelly Yechimovich harshly slammed the soldiers, calling the “cowards.” And IDF spokesman Moti Almoz affirmed that the military would be taking a zero-tolerance approach to insubordination. “There is no room for insubordination in the IDF,” said Almoz. “There are disputes and (opposing) political positions” in a democracy such as Israel, he noted, but added that the army – which represented the full gamut of Israeli political opinion – was not the place to take political actions designed to create disunity.

But Horowitz said he believed the soldiers were worthy of praise. “We have to take into consideration their feelings and not automatically attack them,” he said. “We especially have to listen to them. I do not agree with what they have done, and I disagree with all forms of insubordination. But the issue they raise – our choking control of millions of people – needs to be dealt with,” he said.

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