The challenge of selective conscientious objection in Israel

Theoria 53 (109):79-99 (2006)
Abstract
Whether refusal is an act of civil disobedience meant to challenge the state politically as a form of protest, or an action which reflects a deep moral objection to the policies of the state, selective conscientious objection presents the state and its citizens with a number of difficult legal and moral challenges. Appeals to authority outside of the state, whether religious or secular, influence both citizenship and the behavior of the government itself. As Israel raises funds to defend IDF officers from charges of human rights violations in the United Kingdom, it may find itself in need of a better defense against those citizens hesitant to be placed in harm's way, militarily and legally. At some point in the future it may find itself unable to field soldiers for whom service in the Occupied Territories is prohibited by inviolable secular or religious law. And for those who will continue to argue that they cannot abide service in an army of occupation, an expression sounded in 1968 by Yeshayahu Leibowitz, the moral crisis of an individual conscience rent between obligations to the state and obligations to self, will linger along with the pain of a conscience nurtured and then rejected by this democratic society.
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