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Feminist conscientious objector | by Bright Tal (Political)
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Feminist conscientious objector

This is Idan Halili, one of the first women conscientious objectors in Israel to publicly claim the right to resist mandatory military service, on grounds of her feminist beliefs and conscience (in Israel military service is mandatory for both men and women).


This is a pictue I took of her standing next to an ad selling mobile phones to soldiers. In the fantasy world of advertising, soldiers are harmless kids playing with toy guns.


Back in the real world, Idan wrote a letter to the army, requesting a hearing before the military “conscience committee”, authorised to grant or deny conscientious exemptions from service.


The army refused her request.




Idan was sentenced to two weeks’ imprisonment and appealed againt the army's refusal to grant her a hearing.


The appeal was successfuland Idan got a chance to be heard by a committe.

Idan's case attracted quite a lot of media attention in Israel, which must have casued quite a lot of embarrassment for the army.


Idan was exempted from military service on Tuesday 27 December 06.

The official reason given by army was that she was "not fit for military service".





From Idan's letter to the army:


"A strongly patriarchal institution, like the army, underlines female marginality, on the one hand, and the superiority of male-identified values on the other. …


It might be said that a mood of sexual harassment is endemic to a patriarchal and hierarchical organization like the army. And so the demand that a woman

enlist is tantamount to demanding that she cope with sexual harassment within an environment that encourages such harassment. Moreover, since the army is such a central institution in society, a culture of sexual harassment also is exported to and further entrenched in civic society. …


I as a feminist, feel I must avoid military service and act to limit and reduce the influence of the army on civic society. …


When men spend a formative period of their lives in the military they are likely to receive positive reinforcements for the use of power and violence, and to develop an indifferent attitude to the use of "mild" forms of violence …


In an organization whose main values include superiority and control, these behaviors are likely to be encouraged in the specific professional (military) activities, but also in interpersonal relations …


I cannot join an organization which, either directly or indirectly, encourages violence – of any form and kind – against women. There is, hence, a contradiction between my being a feminist and my ability to enlist. …


Army service would impose a way of life on me that is deeply contrary to my values and moral beliefs. … I cannot live in such flagrant denial of my conscience … "



המכתב המלא בעברית

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Taken on November 15, 2005