I’m an American Living in Israel and I’m going to Jail Rather Than Join the Israeli Defense Forces

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About Moriel Rothman

My name is Moriel Rothman. I am an American-Israeli writer and poet, based in Jerusalem and situated squarely on the Left, especially here. Recently added to my byline is “Refusnik,” as I have decided to refuse mandatory service in the IDF. I also like be a ‘nik. A beatnik, a refusenik, a sputnik. This blob is dedicated to sharing my Completely Objective and Undisputably True reflections, writings, analyses and poems about politics, activism, justice, love, and life in Israel-Palestine and in the world. And other various topics.


  1. David Karpel says:
  2. My privilege is that I know little to nothing about the Occupation, the IDF, or any of the motivating forces behind it, so, living in ignorance of it, I’m not directly subject to its effects.

    I admired this essay and the level of self-reflection, and others-reflection, that the author shows. I am pleasantly surprised at the ways in which the Jewish beliefs cited here, particularly about God and Love and Nonviolence, overlap with my Buddhist-informed beliefs. (Surprised not because I did not think Judaism capable of compassion or something like that, only surprised in that this is something I did not know before, having not devoted much time or study to Jewish belief and values.) In the end, how meaningful are the labels Buddhist and Jewish anyway?

    I admire and respect the author for his choice here. The term “conscientious objector” comes to mind – though that term, too, has no real significance to me, a child born in 1987 with no recent military service in my family (my great-grandfather fought for England in WWI, but that’s it). I admire the consciousness shown by the author. And in reading this piece, and the piece that David Karpel linked to, I’d be inclined to side with Mr. Rothman, at least in that our values are similar and I feel that, in his position, I may have made a similar choice. Even when I was learning about the Vietnam war and the draft and such in high school history, and learned the term “conscientious objector,” I felt a strong conviction that I would have objected, too – and had I been a male, alive at that time and subject to the draft, I feel fairly sure I would have sought a way out, legally or illegally.

    Thank you for writing this, Mr. Rothman, though I know you likely sit in prison right now – it was an enlightening, and at times sombering, read.

  3. wellokaythen says:

    An absolutely crucial foundation of nonviolent direct action, as I understand it in terms of MLK’s movement, is the full acceptance of the legal consequences. If you accept harassment, arrest, and imprisonment as the price to pay, and even as useful things, then you have really seized a morally upright position. If one refuses and expects to be treated as an exception, that is not really a commitment to nonviolent action. For King and Gandhi, unjust imprisonment was itself a key piece of evidence for the injustice of the system.

    If you accept being persecuted for your beliefs, then you have an unassailable position.

    So, I guess I’m wondering about the author’s perspective on the punishment or fallout he anticipates from this decision. I get the sense the author accepts the consequences, but I’m still curious. I don’t mean this as a judgment or criticism. I’m just curious about what he’s thought about the repercussions.

  4. Killing in the name of religion is never the right thing to so brother you have done the right thing and I support you – http://www.lifenstory.com/frmViewStory.aspx?C1=197

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