Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Israeli conscientious objector in New Zealand

Rotem Mor: “refusenik”

Israeli conscientious objector in New Zealand

"For a long time, I have had doubts about the honesty of military service. These questions began to arise long before I was drafted. They stemmed from information I had acquired about the Israeli-Arab conflict, and from discovering the false information about it, to which I was exposed for years. As I learned more, I was increasingly sceptical about the official Israeli version of what happened. This official version is the basis on which most of Israeli youth justifies its military service. I started to understand to what extent fear and hatred had been instilled in me from a very early age. I discovered that I do not believe in the existence of an "enemy," but rather in the existence of people of different cultures, who are frightened and angry, just like me."

Two days after making this statement, Rotem Mor was sent to Prison No. 4, after the IDF had sentenced him to 28 days of prison and 28 days of probation. Mor, who was 20 years old, finished high school in the summer of 1999 and took the matriculation exams. In February 2000, he was drafted. He served for a while in the liaison unit with foreign forces in Eilat, and then took a course for soldier-teachers, which in the past was open only to women. Mor admitted that he was not always a disciplined soldier, but he liked working with teenagers, and was willing to invest his time and talent for their benefit.

When he made his decision to be a conscientious objector, he removed his uniform and showed up at his military unit in civilian clothing. Even when he came to the IDF Conscientious Objectors Committee, he wore civilian clothes, and in reaction, the committee refused to hear his arguments. Mor told his friends that for him, military service had become "slavery," and that he didn't feel that the IDF was protecting him.

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 impostor, 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.

"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”.

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.

"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."

Rotem is currently travelling around the South Island. He is available for an interview on these dates:

Saturday, November 17

Sunday, November 18

Wednesday, November 27

Thursday, November 28

To arrange an interview, his e-mail address is: mailto:rotemdanmor@hotmail.com

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Veronika Meduna: The Kaikoura Rebuild

A Scoop Foundation Investigation

Friday will be a big day for people north of Kaikōura – and for hundreds of construction workers who are racing to reopen State Highway 1 in time for the holiday season.

By the afternoon, the South Island’s main transport corridor will be open to traffic again, more than a year after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake mangled bridges and tunnels, twisted rail tracks and buried sections of the road under massive landslides. More>>


BPS HYEFU WYSIWYG: Labour's Budget Plans, Families Package

“Today we are announcing the full details of the Government’s Families Package. This is paid for by rejecting National’s tax cuts and instead targeting spending at those who need it most. It will lift 88,000 children out of poverty by 2021." More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Defence Spending, Alabama, And Dolly Parton

The spending lavished on Defence projects to meet the risks that could maybe, possibly, theoretically face New Zealand in future is breath-taking, given how successive governments have been reluctant to spend even a fraction of those amounts on the nation’s actual social needs. More>>


Members' Bills: End Of Life Choice Bill Passes First Reading

The End of Life Choice Bill in the name of David Seymour has been sent to a select committee for consideration by 76 votes to 44. It is the third time Parliament has voted on the issue in recent decades and the first time such a Bill has made it over the first hurdle. More>>


State Sector: MPI Survives Defrag Of Portfolios

The Ministry for Primary Industries will not be split under the new government, but will instead serve as an overarching body for four portfolio-based entities focused on fisheries, forestry, biosecurity and food safety. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Vulnerable Kids, RNZ Funding, And Poppy

The decision to remove the word ‘vulnerable’ from the Ministry for Vulnerable Children could well mark a whole shift in approach to the care of children in need... More>>





Featured InfoPages