Disobedience

by Mark Chmiel

U.S. historian Howard Zinn once said, “The Holocaust might serve a powerful purpose if it led us to think of the world today as wartime Germany — where millions die while the rest of the population obediently goes about its business.  It is a frightening thought that the Nazis, in defeat, were victorious:  today Germany, tomorrow the world.  That is, until we withdraw our obedience.”

Another historian, Raul Hilberg, once identified key stances during the Nazi genocide: the perpetrators, the victims, the bystanders, and the resisters.

In the State of Israel  are citizens who refuse to serve in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.  One group started during the 1982 Lebanon War, and called itself Yesh Gvul, “There is a limit.”

Since then, hundreds of Israelis—reservists, soldiers, officers, the young and the old—have made clear that they would not be obedient to a government that humiliates and abuses the Palestinian population.

One man, Duda Palma, articulated his decision this way: “The immediate choice I faced was either to act like a rhinoceros (the conformist image in the well-know play by Ionesco) and play along—or protest. The refusal to collaborate with the degrading occupation and its ugliest aspects seems the correct thing to do, now more than ever, so correct that it seems incredible that a people that only recently gained its own national independence now experiences such ease in denying another people a similar independence. I believe that this step, I am defending the fragile democracy still clinging on amongst us, but being gradually swept towards the chasm by a rising tide of nationalism and Khomeinist fundamentalism.”

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