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March 02, 2008



So ... who are the Palestinian Israelis (who are around 20% of population)?

Since they can't serve in the IDF and therefore aren't 'Real Israelis', who are they? The Invisible Israelis?


If my country was in the desperate situation Israel is in with constantly being attacked by its enemies, I would demand that they execute all those who don't join to defend her.

Sounds harsh, well most of the world isn't in the situation Israel is in so of course it would tend to sound harsh.

But if they were in the situation Israel is in they would shoot draft doggers just like I would demand my country do too.

For when your country is actually having missiles dropped on it, a draft dogger takes on a whole different meaning then when a country isn't in such a physical attack but instead is fighting in other lands. When the war is on the home soil and the person still is a draft dogger that is a very clear form of treason. And traitors should be shot!


I understand what Steve is saying, but Israel IS 'fighting in other lands'. Israel is illegally occupying the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip (de facto) and the Syrian Golan Heights.

There are many Israelis who would proudly serve within Israel proper and in defensive wars, but cannot in good conscious be a party to the things that happen in the Occupied Territories (well documented human rights abuses and theft of property/land). It may have changed, but the last I heard, Israel is not accomodating to those willing to serve under those stipulations.

Also, let's take Steve's logic and turn it around. Let's apply his contention: 'constantly being attacked by its enemies, I would demand that they execute all those who don't join to defend her' to the Palestinians because they ARE a people constantly attacked both militarily and economically/occupied, subjugated and have not been allowed to return to their homes after the War of 1948.

If the PA forced military service and executed anyone who didn't comply, we would say they are barbarians and inherently violent.

The Palestinians are the ones being occupied, slowly being squeezed out by Israeli policies. Both parties feel threatened; heightening tensions like this will only accelerate the downward spiral we're already on.

New thinking is needed on how to deal with this conflict; it's already too militarized and violence has gotten neither side anything except more violence.


Now I am not one to tell other countries what to do with their internal affairs so when I respond I am responding as it a similar situation would befall my country.

And I am not saying that if my country wasn't in such a concrete threat as my neighbor aiming missiles on me I would let the draft dogger off the hook.

I am just saying that I would support imprisonment rather than execution if it was a more general issue of "National Interest" than the raw issue of survival that Israel faces.

I don't want to see a draft dogger come out of the situation unscathed whereas the patriot often faces great personal sacrifices that minimizes his quality of life (even the lost of his life).

Now in my country we don't have the draft anymore. The military prefers people who want to serve believing that they can fill the needed demand for soldiers that way and that people who want to serve make better soldiers. Which makes sense given the situation we find ourselves in.

Therefore the issue of draft dogging doesn't come up.

But if it did. If it was needed then those who refuse should at least be imprisoned for a period of time.

Now if was a situation where the enemy is at the doorstep, where citizens are dying in numbers due to the acts of the enemy, where the issue of the very survival of my nation is at stake then those who refuse to serve at such a critical time should be shot.

Hell, depending upon the situation I would shoot them myself.

As late as the first World War desertion from the military while fighting the war meant execution.

The establishment of a country takes extreme sacrifice, extreme patriotism yes to the point of zealotry and yeah some extreme cruelty.

Israel isn't unique in how it formed by taking over the lands of another but what was unique was the timing. Other nations had formed themselves much earlier and had already done the cruel stuff that they needed to do. Therefore they could afford to act all more moral than thou even though they established nationhood in much the same way. But Israel hadn't "wiped out the Indians" yet. It still needed a 19th century solution in the 20th century.

The fact is the two cultures (if I can even call what the Palestinians have a culture) can not exist side by side. One must fade away as the other prospers.

That's the whole cold truth of it all. And where you stand is basically a question of who you are. I personally think the Israeli people and their culture is much better for the world, and more specifically my country, and that is why I tend to side with them.


There are many Israelis who would proudly serve within Israel proper and in defensive wars, but cannot in good conscious be a party to the things that happen in the Occupied Territories.

But still it is a situation where citizens are dying on your home soil due to the actions of an enemy.

But it is your country so you decide what's best for you.

I personally just don't think a nation can't exist when its people don't have total contempt and the strictest sanctions against those who refuse to service when the very issue of the survival of the nation is at stake. I don't think a nation can survive if the response to aggression upon ones soil isn't single minded zealot patriotism (the enemy might not be on the soil but the effects of the enemy, the missiles that kill the nations civilians are on the nation's soil).

But again how a country decides to deal with its traitors is indeed a domestic issue, so I am certainly not telling the Israelis what they should do with those who would evade service when the families of their countrypeople are being killed in their own neighborhoods by an enemy.

I can just say looking at it externally, it is my opinion that unless every citizen including those not in the military consider themselves a soldier and trains in military skills, I believe that Israeli's enemies will be the ones who are eventually successful. It takes a certain degree of militancy to form nation and Israel still hasn't completely destroyed those who would challenge its nationhood.

But again, it is up to the citizens of Israel to ultimately decide what to do.


I just think that Israel would be better off if they do one swift act of cruel violence to wipe out its enemies.

Sure the world will condemn it. Yeah future generations who will find themselves in a much more secure and comfortable position will condemn it as well. But perhaps that is what it will take to ensure that the Israeli culture will survive. And you look at every other nation in the world and that is what they had to do.

And after all, what will the world do? They haven't done anything about Iran or North Korea. The world thinks you have nukes. So, ultimately they would be afraid to do anything.

It pays to be "the bad boy" as that makes you unpredictable and it will make people want to make concessions to you.

It is cruel, and yeah it is harsh, but it is what every other nation in some time in its history had to do. It's the birth pains of the formation of nationhood. So you really have two choices. Do your necessary historical cruelty or be the ones who fade away.

But if you do want to survive as a nation it is better to do your "historical cruelty" sooner than later.


"The Palestinians are the ones being occupied, slowly being squeezed out by Israeli policies."

Well in perhaps 100 years or so you can give the remnants of them a good tax situation while allowing them to form Casinos.

They can then become rich and integrate better into society.


It might also be worth mentioning that the vast majority of Israelis agree with their government. Had the Arabs not started the wars they would not have lost all this territory. After the war Israel offered to give them the land in return for recognition which the Arabs states refused. I'm not sure therefore that it qualifies as occupied territory even if that's what the Arabs and others want to call it.

All that being said, the point is there was a feeling in Israel during more peaceful times that it wasn't worth fighting with the youths who did not want to go into the military and the assumption was that the military would need fewer soldiers as wars became more dependent on technology.

Unfortunately that did not happen and now many who did not serve are feeling the heat of their decisions. As a parent I would not and did not discourage my children from service as I feel it is very important aspect of being an Israeli.


Wow, Steve. From your statements, there's no common ground. You are obviously a very military-minded person who strongly believes in use of force to achieve ones' objectives and like any good soldier has de-humanized 'the enemy'; so much so that you can call for - not only their ethnic cleansing - but complete extermination. You said yourself, "Sure the world will condemn it. Yeah future generations who will find themselves in a much more secure and comfortable position will condemn it as well. But perhaps that is what it will take to ensure that the Israeli culture will survive."

When one can de-humanize 'the other' in such a manner it is surely scary times. This level of de-humanization leads to genocides (See Rwanda, Bosnia, Kosovo ... Nazi Germany).

I DON'T believe "One must fade away as the other prospers" b.s.

You state that one reason you support Israel is because Israel is good for your country. As an American, I would recommend Professors Mearsheimer and Walt's book, 'The Israel Lobby' which contains an analysis of the U.S./Israel relationship and how that relationship benefitted the U.S. during the Cold War vs. now. Our complete support of Israeli policies and actions aren't found to be good for our own current national security, nor is it an asset politically.

I believe in policies that are effective. Obviously, Israel's iron fist approach and the Palestinians use of violence haven't gotten either party anywhere, but has only escalated tensions and prompted more violence.


I don’t get what this whole disproportionately thing is all about. You don’t win wars by acting proportionally.

You win wars by crushing your enemy. They pull a knife, you pull a gun. They put one of your men in the hospital, you put one of theirs in the morgue.

You must fight on their level. With trickery, brutality, finality. You must match their evil.

Did you know that two thousand years ago a Roman citizen could walk across the face of the known world free of the fear of molestation? He could walk across the earth unharmed, cloaked only in the words ‘Civis Romanis’ I am a Roman citizen. So great was the retribution of Rome, universally understood as certain, should any harm befall even one of its citizens?

Tit for tat does lead to more violence. And isn’t that what proportionality really means?

If you aren’t fighting with disproportionately then you aren’t fighting to win, And if you aren’t fighting to win then you are just continuing the cycle of violence. Don’t get me wrong. I am not one of those who say that violence never solved anything. Ask what the city fathers of Hiroshima what they say about it and you know what they would say? NOTHING, Hiroshima was destroyed. Violence has resolved more conflicts than anything else. The contrary opinion that violence doesn’t solve anything is merely wishful thinking at its worst.

No, I am not a pacifist. The truth is that when you fight you fight in order to totally destroy your enemy’s will and capacity to fight. You totally overwhelm them.

The comments to this entry are closed.



Checkpoint Jerusalem was written by Dion Nissenbaum, who covered the Middle East as Jerusalem bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers from 2005 to 2009.

Nissenbaum is now McClatchy's bureau chief in Kabul, covering south Asia with an emphasis on Afghanistan. See his new blog at Checkpoint Kabul.

Feel free to send a story suggestion. Read his stories at news.mcclatchy.com.


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