Political Disobedience in the Idf: The Scope of the Legal Right of Soldiers to Be Excused from Taking Part in Military Activities in the Occupied Territories
Israel Law Review, Vol. 36, pp. 73-110
38 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2004
At issue is the appropriate legal reaction to so-called selective conscientious objections in the current Israeli context, accounting for both consequential considerations and deontological ones. It is argued that a relevant distinction in this respect is between objections committed by members of a permanent minority, which are based on views that are practically excluded from the political discourse, and objections which are guided by what Rawls calls political principles, that is, the principles of justice which regulate the constitution. This distinction can explain and justify the current policy of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) of granting exemptions to Ultra-Orthodox Jews and to Arabs (even if not all these cases reflect so-called full conscientious objection) while denying an exemption to those who refuse to serve based on their opposition to the IDF's activities in the Occupied Territories. However, it is argued that the important expressive role of such refusals requires a more measured approach, by either legitimizing a limited number of such acts or imposing only minimal sanctions (while formally de-legitimizing such acts). These arguments are preceded by an assessment of an alternative possible justification of legitimizing refusals, to prevent the implementation of unlawful activities by the IDF. It is argued that this purpose does not justify legitimization of refusals except in particular instances that are specified.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation