The death toll in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict rises daily. Between the bombs and the bullets, however, are nearly 250 people, 250 Israeli soldiers, who have had enough. In this author-approved English translation of their statement, an exclusive to The Michigan Daily, one of these soldiers tells the world why he is through with the fighting and turning toward peace.

Paul Wong
Paul Wong
Assaf Oren, like nearly 250 other Israeli soldiers, has had enough of violence and is now a conscientious objector. (AP PHOTO)

On Feb. 5, 1985, I got up, left my home, went to the Compulsory Service Center on Rashi Street in Jerusalem, said goodbye to my parents, boarded the rickety old bus going to the Military Absorption Station and turned into a soldier.

Exactly 17 years later, I find myself in a head to head confrontation with the army, while the public at large is jeering and mocking me from the sidelines. Right-wingers see me as a traitor who is dodging the holy war that’s just around the corner. The political center shakes a finger at me self-righteously and lectures me about undermining democracy and politicizing the army. And the left? The square, establishment, “moderate” left that only yesterday was courting my vote now turns its back on me as well. Everyone blabbers about what is and what is not legitimate, exposing in the process the depth of their ignorance of political theory and their inability to distinguish a real democracy from a third world regime in the style of Juan Peron.

The question

Almost no one asks the main question: Why would a regular guy get up one morning in the middle of life, work, kids – and decide he’s not playing the game anymore? And how come he is not alone but there are 50 … I beg your pardon, 100 … beg your pardon again, now almost 200 regular, run of the mill guys like him who’ve done the same thing? (Feb. 24 comment: As of now we’re 283 – AO)

Our parents’ generation lets out a sigh: We’ve embarrassed them yet again. But isn’t it all your fault? What did you raise us on? Universal ethics and universal justice, on the one hand: Peace, liberty and equality to all. And on the other hand: “The Arabs want to throw us into the sea.” “They are all crafty and primitive. You can’t trust them.”

On the one hand, the songs of John Lennon, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Bob Marely, Pink Floyd. Songs of peace and love and against militarism and war. On the other hand, songs about a sweetheart riding the tank after sunset in the field: “The tank is yours and you are ours.” (allusions to popular Israeli songs – AK). I was raised on two value systems: One was the ethical code and the other the tribal code, and I na

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