||Issue No. 142||28 June 2002|
Interview: Safe as Houses
Safety: Ten Steps to Safety
History: Staying Alive
Unions: Choose Life
International: Seoul Destroyers
Corporate: Crash Landing
Activists: The Refusenik
Review: Dumb Nation
Poetry: Helping Out The Rich
The Locker Room
Week in Review
Good News from the Pilbara
Go Mark, Go
By Jim Marr
Rotem's website http://www.geocities.com/rotemmor sets out the following personal prescription...
- I am committed to act upon my truth as I have found it to be, and constantly create possibilities that stem from that truth
- I am committed not to judge a person by actions he has made in the past
- I am committed to recognise those places where I have not been true and share them with others
- I am committmed to share the truth as I see it with others so they may take from it what they desire for themselves
- I am committed to listen to all people and recognise the power that lies in their truth as if it was my own
- I am committed to constantly explore my truth and allow myself the possibility of a dynamic truth
- I am committed to do as best I can to support and help any person who requests so
There are thousands of people in Israel who say that Mor, and those like him, should be committed.
Undeterred, he will begin a speaking tour next month aimed at convincing Australians they should question and challenge the policies of his country's military-dominated Government.
He wants to meet Palestinians while he is here, to develop relationships, and build bridges that might lead to just solutions to the problems confronting their homelands. A practical first step, he suggests, would be to seek invitations to address schools with large Moslem rolls.
"Undoubtedly, me and other Israelis have to make those links. Talking, understanding each other, that's where this issue begins and ends.
"I will talk to anyone and I will listen to anyone. If a guy from Hamas wants to be my friend, that's fine. If we make a strong enough bond then he won't be a guy from Hamas any more.
"Our main message, though, is that there is more than one voice coming out of Israel. There are many voices with different ways of approaching the conflict.
"Some, for example, argue that ending the occupation is the goal. I don't believe that myself but, obviously, it would be a good place to start."
Raised near Jerusalem, Mor spent four years in Canada where his father worked for a Zionist organisation. Slowly, he began questioning the accepted political wisdoms he had grown up with.
But it wasn't until he was drafted on February 15, 2000, that he confronted them head on.
After 18 months, feeling more and more like an imposter, he did the increasingly-thinkable, requesting a release from the Ministry of Defence, on grounds of conscience, and sending copies of his letter to the UN, Amnesty International and Israeli Peace Groups.
That action cost him a month in prison and five more, reporting to base then going home, while the heirarchy tried to sort out its dilemma.
"I had personal issues about the way you were treated in the army but, more importantly, I was concerned about what was becoming of my country," he explained.
"As a citizen, I am very concerned about what is happening in the territories right now and what happened, historically, in Lebanon in the name of Israel.
"As a soldier, I am worried about the occupation but I am also worried about the power of the military. You look at its influence on the Israeli Government, public companies and private companies.
"I didn't want to serve political fanatics and I didn't want to serve the Settlers, so I made my decision.
"Besides, I wasn't a very good soldier. I wasn't awful but I wasn't very good either.
The highlight of his military career, he says, came with an unexpected promotion to sergeant. It took authorities a week to discover the computer error.
Mor says while the "refusenik" stance isn't popular in Israel, it is gaining some acceptance.
There is a difference, he says, between the general response and the specific attitude of individuals he confronts with his reasoning.
He, and other "refuseniks" are supported by Israeli groups New Profile and Yesh Gvol, which can be translated literally as "there is a border" or colloquially as "enough is enough".
Since arriving in Sydney he has linked with Jews For Just Peace, the group organising his speaking tour.
There has, however, been a personal cost.
Mor's family, like those of most Israelis, has strong military links. His brother and father still hold defence force ranks.
He came to Australia, two months ago, because his family was here but it wasn't until they returned to Israel that he agreed to mount the public stage.
"Politically, it was easy once I made up my mind but, personally, it was very tough.
"Some of my family accepted what I had done because the accepted me for me but my Dad was a little bit harder," he admits.
But he is buoyed by growth in the Refusenik movement. Hundreds have quit the armed forces to face prison and other sanctions. More than 1000 younger compatriots have indicated they will resist the draft.
Eventually, Mor wants to go home.
"I'm doing this because I love my country and its people," he explains. "I care what becomes of us and our neighbours. If I didn't, I would just start a new life and forget about the place."
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