Rotem Mor, an Israeli refusenik


by guest
23rd November, 2010 at 9:30 am    

A guest post by RickB.

I attended a meeting with Rotem Mor, an Israeli refusenik at the Quaker Friends Meeting House in Bangor on Sunday.  18 months into his IDF service Rotem became a conscientious objector, rejecting his uniform and at one point being sent to jail for a month. That was almost ten years ago, since then he has been a traveller, a peace activist, a student of Middle Eastern music (at one point in the meeting he took time out to sing to us).  See this in depth ei interview with him and a 2001 Haaretz piece about the growing numbers of conscientious objectors.  This particular last minute leg of Rotem’s tour was due to Bangor Peace & Justice members Steve and Rania who are married, he British she Palestinian, both friends of Rotem, thus a pleasing breadth of experience and diversity of perspectives could be learned about.

We didn’t get into a lot of hard point ideological specifics, I have seen a report of another meeting in England which was pretty fractious with people leaving if answers did not meet their requirements, which is a lost opportunity.  The issue of normalisation and space for resistance was discussed and was a case in point of both acknowledging and respecting valid theory while also trying to make things work in reality.  Anti semitism was also mentioned with Rotem noting while racism against semitic peoples has in the past in Europe been directed against Jewish people, now Islamic people were the target.

There was hope expressed that the idea of the IDF warrior on occupied land having to defend against another Holocaust was propaganda that is losing its hold on younger generations.  However the increasingly authoritarian nature of the Israeli government is a threat, for activists they see the legal framework being put into place that in the future can be used to close down dissent entirely.

Breaking the Silence was brought up, the movement by ex IDF soldiers to speak about the abuses they had been involved in against Palestinians, while Rotem initially got a frosty reception from his family his relationship with them is now better than ever, other soldiers with PTSD and intolerant nationalistic Zionist families have been less lucky.  Important work is therefore done in talking to pre-service Israeli teens to make them aware that there is a choice (albeit a hard one) to refuse service.  Rotem had done this with feminist organisation New Profile who campaign to reduce the militaristic nature of Israeli society.  As evidence of the worsening authoritarianism they have been targets of police raids and harassment.  Rania and Rotem talked about the othering and alienation of Palestinians that soldiers are conditioned towards, for example to enable them to look through a sniper scope and see not people but a target, and a similar process in the past engaged in by recruiters of suicide bombers.  To both, this planned killing represented a barrier towards solutions, while at the same time the faux ‘dialogue’ encouraged by outside groups failed to understand some basic realities of the situation – an occupied people are not on an equal footing with an occupying people.

Later in the evening I talked some more with Rania who was now having to contend with the UK immigration system, it costs loads of money and you have to do stupid exams about Britain and swear allegiance to the Queen.  The institutionalised racism of Israel and the British anti immigrant version are a lot to bear, Rania and I talked about the background anxiety/fear felt by immigrants and also those on welfare under threat of cuts and punitive bureaucracy, many millions of people prey to bureaucratic whims, errors and frauds and ideological warfare against them and we should be united in opposition. One aspect of the immigration system is that it discourages and in fact penalises political and human right activism, so rather than welcome engaged citizens concerned about the world and the injustices in it our system disapproves of it. Again, the worst measures of the state are applied to those least permitted or able to contest them, racism, imbalance of power, different in application and degree but not strangers in any country.

A longer account of the evening can be found on Ten Percent.


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  1. sunny hundal

    Blogged: : Rotem Mor, an Israeli refusenik http://bit.ly/eLo8fc


  2. earwicga

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: Rotem Mor, an Israeli refusenik http://bit.ly/eLo8fc < Guest post by @TenPercent


  3. magneda2

    Gb SIMI: Pickled Politics » Rotem Mor, an Israeli refusenik: Anti semitism was also mentioned with Rotem noting … http://bit.ly/fNbPwB




  1. cjcjc — on 23rd November, 2010 at 9:42 am  

    “it costs loads of money and you have to do stupid exams about Britain and swear allegiance to the Queen”

    Police state!!!

  2. Rumbold — on 23rd November, 2010 at 10:15 am  

    Heh Cjcjc.

  3. Rumbold — on 23rd November, 2010 at 11:32 am  

    I don’t understand this piece’s overarching point. It is good that ex-IDF members are highlighting abuses committed against Palestinians. I don’t know how this equates to no more anti-semitism against Jews though. And the dig at the UK immigration system is just silly.

  4. earwicga — on 23rd November, 2010 at 12:00 pm  

    I think I may have over-edited Rumbold.

  5. Rumbold — on 23rd November, 2010 at 12:23 pm  

    Earwiga:

    Maybe, but there are still some nonsensical bits however you edit it. I am sure that all the Jews who have suffered anti-semitic attacks will find it odd that anti-semitism is no longer directed against them in Europe.

  6. earwicga — on 23rd November, 2010 at 12:30 pm  

    Well yes, Rumbold – but that is a specific view from Rotem Mor that is related in the write up. Is it a common sentiment outside of Europe? I took it to mean widespread discrimination on a scale that is no longer tolerated, if only by law.

  7. cjcjc — on 23rd November, 2010 at 12:31 pm  
  8. anon — on 23rd November, 2010 at 2:36 pm  

    I can understand why you felt the need to edit this bit…

    “I talked some more with Rania who was now having to contend with the UK immigration system, it costs loads of money you have to do stupid exams about Britain and swear allegiance to the Queen (so strictly speaking there is no way I qualify to be a British citizen, my answer to the exam and pledge- the Queen, another in along line of ruling class inbreds who have waged war upon the people for centuries, even when my ancestors were in another country -Ireland- the frickin’ English aristocrats molested us. So fuck ‘em all, I know revolutions just aren’t British but can we at least do something about the rich robbing us blind every bleedin’ day). The institutionalised racism of Israel and the British anti immigrant version are a lot to bear”

    This non-boozing, vegetarian atheist doesn’t seem to like the English much does he.

  9. cjcjc — on 23rd November, 2010 at 2:45 pm  

    No he doesn’t!

  10. cjcjc — on 23rd November, 2010 at 2:51 pm  

    This just in:

    Yesterday, the FBI released their comprehensive annual report on hate-crimes committed in the United States. The results may surprise some, and worry others.

    According to the findings, of the 1,575 victims of anti-religious hate-crime in 2009:

    71.9 percent were victims because of an offender’s anti-Jewish bias.
    8.4 percent were victims because of an anti-Islamic bias.

    http://standpointmag.co.uk/node/3608

  11. earwicga — on 23rd November, 2010 at 2:56 pm  

    Thanks cjcjc. I looked for the UK stats earlier but came up with a blank for anything recent.

  12. Rumbold — on 23rd November, 2010 at 3:55 pm  
  13. earwicga — on 23rd November, 2010 at 4:19 pm  

    Thanks Rumbold. That link is only to anti-semitic incidents.

  14. Rumbold — on 23rd November, 2010 at 4:37 pm  

    Oh, I thought that is what you wanted. Apologies.

  15. cjcjc — on 23rd November, 2010 at 5:13 pm  

    Rumbold get with the program.

    Muslims are the Jews now, or summat…

    That RickB is a piece of work.
    Fortunately he is stuck in Bangor.

  16. Katy Newton — on 23rd November, 2010 at 9:42 pm  

    Antisemitism continues to bubble along in Europe just as racism generally does. I think it’s fair to say that Islamophobia is on the rise, definitely, and certainly currently more publicised (both in terms of antimuslim sentiment in the mainstream and in terms of people highlighting said antimuslim sentiment). But having said that, I do get irritated when people like Rotem Mor act as if it’s an antisemitism seesaw – you know, if Islamophobia is up then Jew-hatred must be down. It doesn’t work that way. We don’t assume that racism towards black people or sexism or homophobia are down because other forms of prejudice are particularly prevalent at a given moment in time.

    There was hope expressed that the idea of the IDF warrior on occupied land having to defend against another Holocaust was propaganda that is losing its hold on younger generations.

    I cannot find the link but I think that recent surveys of the British Jewish community certainly bear this out.

  17. RickB — on 23rd November, 2010 at 10:10 pm  

    Rotem’s perhaps less obvious yet elegant point was European animus towards middle Eastern peoples abides albeit now in the form of organised inter-governmental kidnapping and torture of Muslims and laws on their appearance. Attacks against Jews are not by and large state sponsored anymore, while Muslims are the subject of states security apparatus (as for stats bear in mind the same authority presiding over racial profiling is not a reliable source of data on hate crimes against the targeted group). So yes there are hate crimes against all but state involvement has shifted focus. Through his life and studies Rotem is acutely aware of the commonality of people in the region, perhaps similar ideas as ‘The Invention of the Jewish People’ by Shlomo Sands.
    As for the point it is largely a report of grassroots activities that are working towards a better future despite political classes less salubrious objectives. And as for Britain I uphold the fine traditional values of dissent, freedom of speech and political engagement, which was kind of the point of many of our older relatives fighting and dying to defeat fascism.
    The immigration point was integral as it was the experience of a Palestinian woman Rania and indeed Rotem commented on the extreme security and paranoia he felt at our airports. Our system expresses in part racism through bureaucratic means, as many systems do worldwide. And a systemised racism is a significant element of the Israel/Palestine situation.

  18. anon — on 24th November, 2010 at 12:22 am  

    The immigration point was bolleaux as everyone who wants to become a British citizen has to go through the same proceedure whether you are from ‘Palestine’ or Perth.

  19. earwicga — on 24th November, 2010 at 12:27 am  

    Thanks for clarifying Rick.

    anon – I think you are misunderstanding something somewhere. Nowhere that I have seen in the OP or in Rick’s comment above does it say immigration procedures vary for Palestinians or Australians. Perhaps you can point out where you have seen it?

  20. anon — on 24th November, 2010 at 12:38 am  

    No confusion. How can something be “institutionalised racism” if it is applied equally to everyone?

  21. cjcjc — on 24th November, 2010 at 8:32 am  

    Oh dear.

  22. douglas clark — on 24th November, 2010 at 8:53 am  

    anon @ 18,

    Perth?

    That is great news. I must have done a Rip van Winkle and awoken a hundred years in the future :-)

    SNP!

  23. Shamit — on 24th November, 2010 at 10:42 pm  

    Rick B -

    Apologies I don’t get the point of the article and the reference to British immigration system is just mind boggling.

    Well, we were very open to immigrants and now we have reached a point which is unsustainable. And hence the checks and balances – and whatever you may say the system is not racist. Can you prove this point please? Or is it just cool to put your own country down and feel like the martyr or some crap like that?

    Anti semitism may not be making headlines but Jewish schools still require security guards – and it is on the rise in France and other parts of Europe. Some high profile cases made their ways into the main stream media – but of course, your reading is limited to what George Monbiot says or a similar idiot.

    But sorry your post is clumsy and shows nothing but your biases – and just like the loony right use one token Muslim to prove their point you are using the token Jew to prove your point. And that says a lot to me – either you are a weak individual or a bigot.

    Take your pick.

  24. RickB — on 25th November, 2010 at 11:53 pm  

    Shamit- Yes all the cool kids are doing it, we all wear leather jackets, shades, smoke ciggies and put down our country, also some Bebop and sneering at ‘squares’ may be involved.

    I’m sorry the world does not conform to your fevered dreams and us weak bigots and tokens run around talking to one another exchanging information and looking for a less conflict ridden future. But if it cheers you up you can instruct others about who they are to your heart’s content, it’s important you are happy and don’t feel irrelevant.

  25. anon — on 26th November, 2010 at 1:56 am  

    It looks to me like you weak bigots and tokens run around talking to one another exchanging information looking to manufacture a conflict ridden future.

  26. Shamit — on 26th November, 2010 at 6:19 pm  

    RickB –

    “weak bigots and tokens run around talking to one another exchanging information and looking for a less conflict ridden future.”

    Spot on mate. I didn’t think you had that much brains dude.

    Now did you watch Panorama last night? And would you still subscribe to the false premise that anti-semitism is no longer applicable?

    Well, preachers of hate are preaching that jews are the worst kind of people – they are monkeys and gay people should be burnt. These are being taught in “faith” schools.

    Don’t have to go far. In South London, Tooting Islamic Centre has been inviting some well dodgy people – and then denying it until BBC Panorama pointed it out.

    Imagine my surprise when I find out from the programme that Tooting Islamic Centre – because that is in the heart of Sadiq Khan’s constituency (and despite him supporting Ed miliband, I actually like Sadiq Khan) – has invited people who told children that Don’t talk to kuffirs – and far worse things about Jews. And you reckon anti semitism is dead in Europe.

    Now going on about claiming this country is racist – get a fucking grip. And as for security and immigration checks – have you ever travelled to say Kuwait, or Saudi Arabia where the first question asked is whether you are Muslim?

    So yes, I accept that Muslims have become a focal point for state security apparatus and any innocent person being harrassed should be challenged – but victims come in all colours, religion and creed and class – so just continually focusing on one group while blaming your country for all the ills in the world is clearly the sign of a lunatic. the bloody loony fucking left.

  27. earwicga — on 26th November, 2010 at 6:35 pm  

    Shamit –

    And would you still subscribe to the false premise that anti-semitism is no longer applicable?

    I think you are a little confused between what Rotem Mor said on the evening (related by Rick) with what Rick actually thinks.

    I thought it was an interesting account of a grass roots meeting, and was quite the opposite of the anti-semitic rant you seem to think it is. I had thought that Rick is anti-semitic, even thought he might be, I would not have put this post up.

    I had hoped it would spark off debate about the incredibly brave and useful things that Israelis are doing regarding Palestine, which very rarely get covered in the usual Israel = bad – Palestine = good, something that I find irritating as there is nothing black and white about the I/P situation.

  28. anon — on 27th November, 2010 at 5:03 pm  

    I think Shamit sums up the fêting of Rotem Mor by the loony left perfectly… “just like the loony right use one token Muslim to prove their point you are using the token Jew to prove your point” Like Ahmadinejad and the loony left’s touting of Neturei Karta.

    I don’t see anything conciliatory in RickB’s posting, it’s just another excuse for more anti Israel rhetoric (and since when have lefties started taking hearsay from IDF sqaddies or ex-squaddies as gospel) with RickB’s own anti English bias thrown in for good measure.
    The message is “Like we said all along Israeli Jews are evil, Jew soldier agrees with us and this is evidence that Israeli Jews are s-l-o-w-l-y waking up to this fact.”

    How is it “incredibly brave” of Rotem Mor?

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