Refusing To Be Part of the Occupation Mechanism
By Dr. Dani Filc
May 31, 2003

Dr. Dani Filc, faculty member in the Department of Politics and Government at Ben-Gurion University and a member of Physicians for Human Rights, Israel's, board, has been sentenced to 14 days in prison for his refusal to serve in the Occupied Territories. Dr. Filc, married with 4 children, serves as a brigade physician at the rank of Major in the armored corps. After serving his mandatory tour of duty in the air force, Dr. Filc requested to be transferred over to field operations. He finished the course for medical officers as an outstanding pupil, and in 1996 Dr. Filc received the Chief of Staff's Award of Excellence for his devoted service as a reserve officer.

Dr. Filc writes:

"After 12 years of service in the brigade, including several times in the Occupied Territories, I have reached the conclusion that I can no longer serve in the territories. This decision was not simple for me. Although I have always been against the occupation, and for many years I have been aware of the human rights violations in the territories, I debated with myself because of to my feelings of fellowship with the soldiers in the unit, because of the problematic issue of matters that are decided by governments elected by a majority, and because of the fact that my position there was that of a physician who treats everyone and might even be able to relieve some distress.

"Nonetheless, the past two years have brought me to the decision that I can no longer collaborate with what is being done in the territories. The killing of [Raed] Karmi by the IDF a day or two prior to the end of the "quiet period" set by Sharon, brought me to the conclusion that there is no real interest in negotiations.

"Moreover, I reached the conclusion that in regards to my beliefs in democratic values, the affront to them caused by the occupation - denying the rights of another people, contempt of the concept of basic equalities between human beings, and the daily affront to human rights - is inestimably more severe than any affront caused by the act of refusal. I also understand that the attempt to convince myself that I could be different there, or that by my being a physician I am not directly involved in human rights violations, is not true.

"From the moment we are in the territories, our ability to prevent suffering is minimal, no matter what our position is there. We are part of a mechanism of oppression.

"I made 'aliya' (Jewish immigration to Israel) as a Zionist who believed in the right of the Jewish people to self-determination. However, I also immigrated as a person who believes in equality between human beings and equality between nations. One cannot argue in favor of the right to Jewish self-determination while denying the same right to the Palestinian people. The occupation negates this right and therefore it is wrong, and it is wrong to attempt to forcefully preserve it.

"The same principles which brought me to the decision to move to Israel bring me to the decision to refuse to serve in the territories."

Dr. Dani Filc is a faculty member in the Department of Politics and Government at Ben Gurion University and a board member of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel.