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Comments on Refusal

Protest Brothers in Arm, Israel
Photograph by Amos Gil, Shatil Stock

  1. During the First Lebanon War, we witnessed an act of refusal in the military. A brigade commander in the armored corps - a praised officer and commander whose brigade was deployed in Southern Lebanon - received an order to participate in conquering Beirut. He estimated that this action will result in significant losses among his soldiers and the Lebanese civilians in Beirut, without serving the war’s objectives. He refused to carry out the order but wished to continue fighting as a tank driver. He presented his position to his superiors, the Chief of Staff, and the defense minister and was subsequently dismissed from service.

  2. This was a clear act of refusal which can teach us the components of such an act:

    1. The action takes place during military service, by a uniformed person.

    2. The uniformed person receives a lawful and unambiguous order which he refuses to obey.

    3. The uniformed person does not remove himself from the military but lets the military determine the future of his military participation.

  3. None of the components of an act of refusal is present when a civilian announces that they intend to suspend their voluntary service should a law that transforms the State from a democracy to a dictatorship come into effect. Therefore, referring to reservists who announce their intention to suspend their voluntary service as ‘refusers’ is an act of dishonesty befitting only a propaganda machine for spreading lies and slandering opposition.


Asa Kasher is a Prof Emeritus of Professional Ethics and Philosophy, Tel Aviv University

Editor in Chief, Hebrew Enc., 2nd ed.

Contributed by Prof. Asa Kasher to USA for Israeli Democracy

Translated from Hebrew by: Niva Kaspi


April 28, 2024

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