Ming the Mechanic:
Assassins on strike

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Assassins on strike2003-12-23 13:01
26 comments
by Flemming Funch

Washington Post:
JERUSALEM, Dec. 21 -- Thirteen reservists from Israel's elite military commando unit stated Sunday in a letter to the prime minister that they would no longer serve in the occupied territories, joining other influential security officials who have recently criticized Israeli military tactics and treatment of the Palestinians. "We have long ago crossed the line between fighters fighting a just cause and oppressing another people," three officers and 10 soldiers of the army's most secretive unit, the Sayeret Matkal, said in the letter to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
These are the people from a mysterious and elite unit, the people who carry out daring rescue missions, and assassinations. And they follow other similar public announcements from other groups of soldiers, some of them highly placed and respected. I think that's an inspiring trend to come out of Israel. Soldiers who will follow their integrity and who will simply refuse when their orders just aren't right.


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26 comments

23 Dec 2003 @ 13:19 by vibrani : Ming
so are you saying that those who feel justified in fighting terrorists aren't in their own integrity?  


23 Dec 2003 @ 13:20 by bkodish : Sayeret Matkal Refusers
Don't get your hopes up, Ming. These reservists from Sayeret Matkal counter-terrorist unit (and other Israeli soldiers who have joined in what some consider insubordination) are not on active duty at present and represent only a small percentage of Israeli soldiers and public opinion. See {Link:http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1072066384702|Elite Refusers Draw Backlash} for more on the array of Israeli viewpoints about this issue.  


23 Dec 2003 @ 13:35 by vibrani : Must be a member
to get into that - so here is the article because I doubt Ming is a member of the Jpost online.

Dec. 23, 2003
Elite refusers draw backlash
By MARGOT DUDKEVITCH

IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon called the group of 13 reservists of the elite General Staff Reconnaissance Unit (Sayeret Matkal) who refuse to serve in the territories an insignificant group who represent nothing more than a "drop in the bucket."

The 13 soldiers who on Sunday sent a letter to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announcing their refusal will be summoned by their commanders. The refusers will be given the opportunity to revoke their signatures, failing which they will be dismissed from reserve duty, Ya'alon said.

Ya'alon's stand was shared by other senior IDF officers on Monday who expressed disappointment that the reservists used their former military background to advance their own political beliefs.

"Many of those who serve in the unit did not like the actions of the 13, and that is putting it mildly," a senior IDF officer told The Jerusalem Post. "Everyone has the right to their opinions and has the opportunity to express them to their commanding officers. The army welcomes it, but there is a big difference between expressing one's views and using them as a political springboard and racing to the media," the officer said.

"We are talking about a small group of civilians who served in the past in the unit. Forces on the ground won't be affected by their stand," another IDF officer said, accusing the group of attempting to politicize the army.

"We cannot continue to stand silent," the letter stated, claiming that Israeli military activities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are depriving "millions of Palestinians of human rights" and endangering "the fate of Israel as a democratic, Zionist and Jewish country."

Knesset members as well as government ministers criticized the reservists' actions. Some, however, stated that while they opposed the strategy taken by the reservists, the issue shouldn't be swept under the carpet but confronted and discussed.
Others warned that it was only the beginning of a growing trend. Some praised the reservists' actions and others demanded they be ousted from military service, declaring they were no longer worthy of wearing the military uniform of such an elite unit.

The affair was reported on most of the major Palestinian media Web sites. The Palestinian Authority's international press center Web site stated, "In a new gesture of refusal of the Israeli oppressive policies in the occupied Palestinian territories, 13 soldiers of an elite Israeli military unit on Sunday evening signed a letter refusing to serve in the Palestinian territories and objecting to their government's policies there."

The Islam Online Web site ran details of the letter under the headline "Israeli commandos refuse to attack Palestinians."

St.-Sgt. Nir, one of the signatories of the letter, said Monday he was not surprised by the response the letter evoked but admitted that he and his colleagues were slightly overwhelmed by the outcry. The fact that the unit rarely served in the territories makes no difference, he said, adding, "While I personally was deployed in the West Bank, perhaps not as much as the regular ground forces, whether we were there or not is irrelevant. Don't people have the right to voice their opinion?

"In fact, 600 soldiers from the regular ground forces are among those who signed the petition drawn up by the Courage to Refuse movement opposed to serving in the territories," he said.

Prior to going public with the letter the group informed their personal commanders of the decision, said Nir, but refused to divulge details regarding their response. "I prefer to leave some things to myself," he said. "Ever since the outbreak of violence I have been mulling over the fact that we are violating the human rights of millions of Palestinians. I do not agree with the direction that is being taken. While I hope to be allowed to continued serving in the army I am willing to face the consequences," he said.

A number of IDF officers who spoke to the Post questioned the right of the reservists to criticize the operations in the territories especially as they rarely participated in them. It is a job that is left to the regular ground forces who operate around the clock in combating terror, they said.

The last publicized involvement of soldiers from the unit operating in the territories was the combined operation launched together with the Border Police antiterror unit and Shin Bet officials in July to free Israeli taxi driver Eliahu Gurel who was held captive in Ramallah, they said.

"Since the operation to free the taxi driver there have been several operations carried out by the unit in the territories that have not been publicized. Their operations in the West Bank are few, and cannot be compared to soldiers from regular units as well as the specialized battalions that operate in the West Bank. Soldiers who serve in these units spend all if not most of their service in the territories," the officer added.

Despite the media waves and the harsh criticism directed at the reservists, IDF officers said they doubt that the outcry would affect the morale of soldiers serving in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, adding that it was probable that some field commanders would discuss the issue with their soldiers.


 



23 Dec 2003 @ 13:39 by vibrani : Wouldn't you
like to see such a trend amongst Palestinians, where things such as criticizing their people's attacks against Israelis can be openly and freely discussed?  


23 Dec 2003 @ 13:40 by ming : Integrity
I'm saying that people should act according to their own integrity. Occasionally, in specific situations, the right thing to do is to kill a specific person. Usually it isn't. And when it gets generalized into something abstract and broad, then things are starting to go wrong. E.g. when large groups of people, countries, races, religions, etc., get categorized as being the "bad" guys, and violence against them gets authorized by people in suits and nice offices, far removed from the scene.  


23 Dec 2003 @ 13:43 by ming : Free discussion
Yes, I would like such free discussion to happen everywhere. Palestine, Iraq, even in the United States. It is admirable that it is possible in Israel. And, yes, I do notice that it is most often reservists who dare make such public statements, but I still think it is a good thing.  


24 Dec 2003 @ 11:15 by Bruce Kodish @24.205.69.22 : The War Against
Ming--what you've stated (quoted below) describes quite accurately what has been going on in the Muslim-Arab culture for decades --the antisemitic, denial of the humanity/rights of Jews, the denial of any Jewish right to national self-determination (Zionism) and
the funding and support of terrorism directed against Israeli's, Jews, etc.

The Palestinian Arabs whose sense of peoplehood only developed recently unfortunately have mostly a negative view of their identity--nurtured by their leaders and the surrounding Arab world--based on destroying Israel and returning the Jews to dhimmitude (the second-class citizenship of non-Muslims which is a tradition in the Arab world).

Palestinian Arabs have been kept in their limbo of refugee status by their fellow Arabs as a tool for this ongoing war against the Jews.
The onslaught of Muslim-Arab antisemitism is of a dimension unlike anything since the Nazis came to power in Germany. See Kenneth R. Timmerman's book , Prophets of Hate.

"I'm saying that people should act according to their own integrity. Occasionally, in specific situations, the right thing to do is to kill a specific person. Usually it isn't. And when it gets generalized into something abstract and broad, then things are starting to go wrong. E.g. when large groups of people, countries, races, religions, etc., get categorized as being the "bad" guys, and violence against them gets authorized by people in suits and nice offices, far removed from the scene."  



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