May 14, 2008

Speaking of Dodging the Draft

Following Mark's post on draft dodgers, I visited New Profile's highly recommended website. There caught my eye an old Guardian piece on Idan Halili. Halili is a young Israeli woman, (19 in 2005), who, with awe inspiring clarity, wrote the following letter explaining to the Herrenvolk Army why she can't join them:
A strongly patriarchal institution, like the army, underlines female marginality, on the one hand, and the superiority of male-identified values on the other. … It might be said that a mood of sexual harassment is endemic to a patriarchal and hierarchical organization like the army. And so the demand that a woman enlist is tantamount to demanding that she cope with sexual harassment within an environment that encourages such harassment. Moreover, since the army is such a central institution in society, a culture of sexual harassment also is exported to and further entrenched in civic society. … I as a feminist, feel I must avoid military service and act to limit and reduce the influence of the army on civic society. … When men spend a formative period of their lives in the military they are likely to receive positive reinforcements for the use of brute power and violence, and to develop an indifferent attitude to the use of "mild" forms of violence … In an organization whose main values include superiority and control, these behaviors are likely to be encouraged in the specific professional (military) activities, but also in interpersonal relations …I cannot join an organization which, either directly or indirectly, encourages violence – of any form and kind – against women. There is, hence, a contradiction between my being a feminist and my ability to enlist. … Army service would impose a way of life on me that is deeply contrary to my values and moral beliefs. … I cannot live in such flagrant denial of my conscience … (excerpted by the American Friends Service Committee)

The icing on the cake is that the army commission deemed Halili not enough of a pacifist to warrant "conscientious objector" status. Yet she was exempted on the ground that holding such feminist views is incompatible with service in the Herrenvolk army.

So its official. While Hasbara hacks, Islamophobia peddlers and Maxim "readers" may beg to differ, the existence of IDF pin-up girls does not make Israel a feminist heaven. And according to the army's own admission, principled feminism is incompatible with membership in Israel's dominant institution.


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