Otherwise Occupied: The Conscientious Objector’s Easy Way Out

The conscientious objector Natan Blanc is taking the easy way out. Blanc, who is 19 years old, has refused five consecutive times to be drafted into the army, and just two weeks ago was sent for another 20-day lockup in a military prison. He has already been incarcerated for 74 days, and there is no way of knowing how long the military system will continue to refuse his offer of genuinely serving society − as a volunteer with the emergency medical service Magen David Adom.

By refusing to serve in the Occupation Defense Forces, Blanc is missing many breathtaking vistas and acts of heroism. He won’t experience that masculine, cowboy-like contrast between the grandeur of the boulders and the softness of the green moss, on the one hand, and the dreadfulness of careening jeeps and weapons pointing at a child in a tent or cave, on the other.

In the last two or three weeks, Blanc has missed out on several actions that have brought the country closer to the fulfillment of Habayit Hayehudi’s vision or, perhaps more accurately, the vision of the Israeli consensus. For example, he didn’t participate in the exercise mso-bidi-font-family:Verdana”>“no live rounds fired 150%;font-family:"Arial","sans-serif"”>‏) the army held for over a week on land belonging to three villages in the southern Hebron Hills.

This is the very area where the High Court of Justice ordered the state to desist from any action that could result in the forced eviction of its residents, at least while the court is considering a petition against Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s order to demolish eight villages because of what he says is the area’s critical importance to IDF training.

Exactly one week before Tu Bishvat − Jewish Arbor Day, which took place this year on January 26 − military vehicles wrecked cultivated fields, obliterating grain for both human and animal consumption. Water cisterns were damaged, residents’ access to and from the villages was disrupted, and children were traumatized. (Though according to an IDF spokesperson, there was no damage to fields or cisterns, army personnel did not impede access and mobility in the area, and in any case it was all legal.( mso-bidi-font-family:Verdana”>”(since being evicted from the Negev in the 1950s

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