Young people are naïve. They pop out of their mothers’ wombs as little fresh-faced tabulae rasae with a huge amount of energy. By the time they approach draft age, Israeli culture treats them as adults. They look like adults, and they are given adult responsibilities; but because they have until then lived in a bubble of people that care about them, some of them have not learned about the reality outside it. They are unable to internalize that there are people out there who do not care about them, indeed who would rip their throats out to steal their bicycles. Or for nothing at all except their Jewish identity.
The bubbles that protected the young Luhar Altman and Hillel Garmi, who feature in this Ha’aretz story by Jewish Palestinian Amira Hass, must have been warm and soft beyond compare, because the degree of naïveté that they still display at age 19 is mind-boggling. Luhar and Hillel have decided that they would prefer not to serve in the IDF. Instead of taking the usual paths to avoid service that are available to a young Israeli – what to say to an army psychologist to mark you as undesirable is common knowledge – these two have chosen to refuse to serve on political grounds and will go to prison, to the great admiration of Jewish Palestinian Hass.
They are doing this to inspire other young Israelis to also avoid service. This is their way of fighting “the regime’s immorality.” I can’t imagine what they think the success of their campaign would look like, although we don’t have to look very far to see examples of how the folks that the IDF defends us against treat the people under their control.
So far they have merely shown that they are part of the anti-Zionist Left. But what is remarkable is the utter counterfactual idiocy of their reasons, the degree of blindness to reality they display. I wish they had said simply that they hated the Jewish state and wanted it replaced with an Arab state, the way Jewish Palestinian Hass does. At least then their position would make sense. But no. Let me quote Hass quoting them:
[Garmi’s] declaration opens: “This year, during the wave of unarmed demonstrations which took place near the Gaza Strip fence, I read what Ahmed Abu Artema, who organized the demonstrations, wrote, and I was impressed to discover people who take on the situation between the sea and the Jordan without using a gun. Like them, I too believe in civil disobedience – a tactic aimed at using unarmed force to underscore the regime’s immorality.”
Like them? I mean, seriously, Hillel Garmi, do you think that the riots and attempted incursions at the fence are about nonviolence and civil disobedience? Suppose the IDF left their posts at the fence and went to the beach in Tel Aviv. What do you think would happen? You do know that when Hamas operatives are not “using a gun” they are using a knife, or a car, as a weapon? You do know that they want to kill you, personally, because you are a Jew and the Quran tells them to?
Altman, in her declaration, spoke of the fear that Israelis grow up on, which she knows very well. As a child, she was unable to fall asleep because of “the terrorist under the bed.” The army gives Israelis a feeling of security, she wrote.
“We embrace and celebrate military service as part of our personal and social identity, and rely on the army like a drug addict who longs for another hit so he’ll finally feel sane,” she wrote. “As a society, we don’t know anything else; all our lives, we’ve relied on the army. This is a normal situation for us. It’s absurd, isn’t it? In my view, a reality in which we familiarize our children with war before peace is crazy.”
A “feeling of security?” How about actual security? You live in Katzir, in northern Israel. There are 130,000 rockets aimed at you, Luhar Altman, and your family and friends. No wonder you had a hard time sleeping, and no wonder you found yourself addicted to the army. Take away the army, and you and your family are dead! That’s one hell of a withdrawal symptom. I’m so sorry you find the current reality to be “crazy,” but it would be much crazier without the IDF to defend you.
Despite the differences between them (he writes “Palestinians,” while she writes “the other”; he speaks of the value of equality, which is being destroyed, and of the occupation, while she fears the cycle of violence that has persisted for 70 years), they decided to refuse to serve on the same day, and to hold a festive refusal event together at the induction center, along with their supporters and their families.
A “festive refusal event!” You two are so cute, living on Mars and in Israel at the same time. I hope you enjoy the festivities. Afterwards you’ll have a few months in prison, not a picnic (it’s not a party prison like Ahed Tamimi’s), but not a Midnight Express kind of experience either. When you get out, the army that you hate will continue to protect you, so you can go to university and be rewarded as artists, lawyers, or media personalities. Believe me, it will look good on your résumé.
Just a word about the Jewish Palestinian, Amira Hass. The daughter of Holocaust survivors, she has chosen to throw in her lot with the enemies of the Jewish people. She is a latter-day Tokyo Rose, broadcasting anti-Israel propaganda from Ramallah. But unlike Tokyo Rose, she is paid well, and the Jewish state and people that she betrays daily will do nothing to her.
Everything in this story is surreal. Imagine: Hillel Garmi believes that Hamas is nonviolent, and Luhar Altman thinks that Israel should not have an army. And a Jewish Palestinian wishes for “many more like them.”
Worse, all agree that spitting in the face of the young Israelis who give several years of their lives to military service to defend the state that they live in, is an event worthy of celebration.