Live from IDF Military Court

What up. Draftee Rothman here, Soldier Number 1234OccupationNoMore. I’m feeling good. Zen. Sneaky. Blobbing straight from the belly of the beast. Who woulda thunk.

I had an amazing send off at Ammunition Hill from 15 or 20 friends, activists, former refuseniks and family members- and then I was called on in. I have to admit that despite everything over the last few months, I was still a bit astonished to see that they actually had a file on me. Me? Little tiny Mori? Ok, if you insist.

Before making our way to the draft office (Baku”m) we watch a video about the “kibush” of Jerusalem (kibush in Hebrew means “conquering,” and is also the word used for the occupation). It didn’t make me angry, just sad. People just want to be good and do right. These kids sitting around me are not bad people, or scary. They are scared, it looks like. They have almost no choice but to believe that we are all being drafted for the right reasons, that we are a continuation of 1967, that the IDF is basically moral and defensive, that we have no choice but to acquiesce to a reality of constant army, constant emergency, constant almost-war. I don’t think we do, but I also don’t feel anger at those who do think so, just sadness. These are young young kids. And this system is enormous, finely tuned, well-oiled.

Then we board the bus, and it feels like a field trip beginning, with just a few more huge guns on the bus than usual. I scribble in my notebook, others are chatting and playing music on their cellphones. I feel like I am in a play: they are calling me a “mitgayes,” a draftee, and I don’t correct them, yet: no point in making a scene on the bus. Go easy, calm. Unmoving and quiet. I am not going to convince the folks on this bus of anything other than that I am a treacherous wanker who they would love to slap. Save my energy.

Then we arrive at the Baku”m bum bum bummmmmm.

A grumpy looking soldier opens the gate, topped with barbed wire, for the bus. So this is a military base. Mreep. Looks like a college, sorta, just with more barbed wire and guns. Ok, it doesn’t really look like a college. There are motivational quotes on the walls. We didn’t have that in college.

We get off the bus, are told to stand in formation, and I think: Ok, now or never. (now or later, really, but drama is fun).

Soldier: Everyone in formation!

Me, quietly: I refuse to enlist.

Soldier: Fine, we’ll deal with that later. Now get in formation.

Me: Why? I refuse to enlist.

Soldier: Get in formation!

Me: What are you going to do, put me in jail? (thanks, Sahar!)

Soldier walks off to find someone to deal with me. The other draftees seem shocked, are giggling. One gives me a thumbs up.

I am sent to the “Ta Harigim,” the weirdo room, in loose translation. I go to the desk.

Me: Hello. I refuse to enlist.

Clerk: Why don’t you want to go to the army?

Me: Because I am against the occupation.

Clerk: You’re against the occupation, so what are you for?

Me: I’m for nonviolence and peace.

The clerk mumbles something about peace shmeace, and then says: It’s clear to you that you’re going to jail, correct?

Me: Yes. It is.

And then I am sent to wait. In the weirdo room I meet a great fellow who is also not into this whole system, and we went to wander around this place, agreeing that the fence and the seriousness are as real as the grass here (not real). We were told we could go to lunch, but the two of us were turned away (“this cafeteria is for draftees only”). We laughed and agreed again that we’d rather miss lunch than join the army.

The other folks here are a bit different (including one who told about sneaking into Joseph’s Tomb. Eep), but everyone’s friendly, we all want out. This is going to be wild. And maybe even a bit wonderful. And weird.

Meep, I’m being sent away, I think they’re going to take my phone, so I’m going to post this now, as is, and hopefully will know and somehow publicize how long I’m sentenced for and in which jail.

Love. Calm. And thank you so so much to everyone who has been so supportive thus far. I enter this feeling strengthened, supported, loved and part of something bigger than myself (all feelings I think one could get from joining the army too. Huh. I guess then it just comes down to what the end goals are: support to enable a young person to kill and be killed, or support to enable a young person to cry out against the system of killing and being killed. I think we will win this one, eventually, team, in small ways and in bigger ways). Forward.