Today Taayush members went out to Hebron. We were accompanied by a new friend, whom I shall call Y. Not long ago, Y finished his service in the IDF. Although coming with Taayush for the first time, he had been out with a couple of other groups, learning more details about the situation in the Occupied Territories.
However, his first real learning experience took place while in the army. He had been a soldier in Bil’in, the site of regular protests against the construction of the Separation Barrier which often end in violence. Y said that his time there raised questions for him about the morality of what the army was doing.
To begin with, he wondered about the path of the wall, which went right through the middle of a grove of olive trees, instead of around it. Then there was the attitude of some of his fellow soldiers who said “we have the power, no one can tell us what to do.” They were angered by the challenge to their authority, and often responded with brutality.
Y recounted one instance when a settler woman told the soldiers that someone had thrown a stone at her. The army’s response was to go to the Palestinian village, and line everyone up. Most of the Palestinians there were children, and Y said he started to feel like the ‘bad guy’.
While off-duty as a soldier, Y began to join the Bil’in protesters and see the conflict from their side. One day he was called up by an officer and told that he would no longer serve with them because of his activities. The rest of his service was spent as a ‘jobnik’, doing secretarial work.
I admire Y’s standing up for his convictions, and refusing to ignore the reality of what he and his fellow soldiers had been doing. He told me he considers himself an Israeli patriot, and I believe his values have proven it.