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Mori Rothman’s Brother Responds to Tablet

Mori Rothman is in jail for publicly refusing to serve in the IDF

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Yoav Hass, a member of Yesh Gvul, offers a supportive handshake to Moriel Rothman as he prepares to report to his draft location at Ammunition Hill, and refuse to participate in the Israeli military.(ActiveStills)

Earlier this week, we ran a piece by Yoav Schaefer called an An Open Letter to Mori Rothman. In the letter Yoav wrote about the story of Mori Rothman, an Israeli currently sitting in jail for declaring himself “a conscientious objector” and publicly refusing to serve his compulsory service in the Israel Defense Forces. Here is some of what Schaefer, an IDF veteran, wrote:

I, like you, care deeply about Israel. We come from similar backgrounds—you were born in Israel, but attended college in the U.S.; I was born in the U.S., but made aliyah to volunteer for the IDF. We share similar values and have both engaged in efforts to build a more peaceful future for Israelis and Palestinians. But now, as you sit in an undisclosed military prison, I feel compelled to write you. I want to tell you that, despite my respect for your political views, I find your decision to turn the personal choice of conscientious objection into a public campaign delegitimizing the IDF deeply upsetting. It is an implicit assault upon every Israeli soldier—especially those who served in the West Bank—and it reduces Israel and the IDF to the occupation alone, which is just as irresponsible as ignoring it altogether.

The letter received a lot of attention and thoughtful feedback, both here on Tablet among our commenters and elsewhere on the internet. One of those venues was the Daily Beast’s “Open Zion” forum, which published a response by Jesse Rothman–Mori Rothman’s brother. Rothman wrote:

First, you fail to recognize that the IDF is a political entity with certain political goals, goals that I often find unpalatable. There is a temptation to place militaries outside the realm of politics because it seems somehow insensitive to address these issues when sons, fathers, and brothers are dying. However, in Israel, just like everywhere else in the world, this is a mistake. There is nothing apolitical about militaries. The IDF is an extremely political entity and it is organized to protect only some citizens, and only sometimes. It bears stating explicitly: when serving in the IDF, you are not serving the people of Israel, or the Jewish people. You are serving the state of Israel and you are serving the government of Israel. There are some people who believe these categories are interchangeable, and certainly there is some overlap. They are, however, by no means synonymous.

The opportunity to expand a conversation on a topic as complicated and meaningful as this one is rare given the nature of new media and its short-attention span. We’ve linked to Rothman’s response because we hope that we can continue a discourse. We’d love to have your thoughts.

Related: An Open Letter to Mori Rothman
My Brother the Conscientious Objector [Daily Beast]

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Americans drawing from a cross section of mainly American sources at the exclusion of sources from the Israeli free press fail to me cognizant of how truly draining and brutal the occupation really is.

herbcaen says:

service in the armed forces is a minimal requirement for citizenship. Israel is not a prison, and Mori could resolve his dilemma by renouncing his Israeli citizenship. Given that the market for IDf “resistors” has been glutted, another “refusnik” has the value of a 55 year old prostitute. You will need to do something more drastic to maintain attention. Might I suggest joining the Iranian Revolutionary Guard? You would be a celebrity there

Poupic says:

How can anyone write such garage! “The IDF is an extremely political entity and it is organized to protect only some citizens, and only sometimes.“ I want to throw up! The IDF exist to defend Israel, not some citizens. This is US Jews deligitimizing Israel while descending below the sewage to do so. No wonder most US Jews voted for anti- Semite Obama.

Poupic says:

Haaretz! This is a paper with no known source of income because it has no readership. All the enemies of Israel always quote haaretz do course. Ask me why I despise US Jews that are Jews in name only!

Shachna says:

Soldiers of the “National Camp” who refuse to obey orders to expel the residents of Judea v’Semaria: “threats to democracy.”

6 million Jews died so this despicable piece of sh*t can be a coward.

jmittle1 says:

wow, friends, is this vitriol really appropriate? is this how we approach disagreement within our community? mori loves israel and is fighting for his vision of its future. we can disagree with him, but comments like the ones here insult not just mori, but the entire community for which you claim to speak. this is no way to treat family.

As far as I know it is not that hard to avoid military service if you really want to. I think Mr Rothman is deliberately challenging the system.
Personally I think that serving in the “worst” units and then forcing an end to abuses might be a more effective (but tricky) means of pursuing his aims, however I am very unclear as to what it is he wants Israel to do. It seems like more of a protest then a pursuit of a goal.
There are no perfect countries out there. I think that if you take into account the difficult circumstances that Israel exists in, then it is far less bad then he thinks.
Certainly he could do far more good as a free man than as a prisoner.

PhillipNagle says:

I am a veteran of the US Army. Service to the armed services of one’s coutry was not always optional in this country but I served proudly. The idea of refusing to serve in the army of country surrounded by enemies that wish to destroy it is disgusting. This guy should rot in jail forever.

invisible_hand says:

considering how respectful and thoughtful the actual participants in this debate have been, it is disgraceful that the tenor and very content of the comments here is so venomous. shame.

wishnitz says:

well, this so-called family that you speak so fondly of, includes all the enemies of israel- and it is rather small!

herbcaen says:

Yoav Hess- any relation to Rudolf hess?

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Mori Rothman’s Brother Responds to Tablet

Mori Rothman is in jail for publicly refusing to serve in the IDF

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