Saturday, June 1, 2013

The release of Natan Blanc


Thursday the Israeli military decided that 10 terms of prison for Natan Blanc's conscientious refusal to participate in the oppression of the Palestinians was enough. This is a result of the international campaign to support Natan led by Yesh Gvul, Palestinian protestors, New Profile and + 972 blog.

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David Blanc sent me a note:

"Dear Alan,

Since you had written recently in support of my son Natan Blanc, I am sure you will be glad to hear that the Army decided yesterday to discharge him once he completes his current prison sentence next week. A success of sorts, though it took over six months and ten prison terms to get to this point.

David"

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I responded:

"Dear David,

Congratulations on fighting so hard and getting Natan in sight of civilian service. What Natan has done is heroic and deserves the gratitude of everyone who seeks a decent (human rights for all) solution in Israel and Palestine and believes in conscientious refusal to participate in particular military acts of oppression. His courage is an example for all of us...

The release is also a sign that in this way, Israel, though having singled Natan out for a record setting kind of punishment, still has a way to go to become the worst. Too bad the distance is visible from here...

All the best,
Alan"

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See also here and here.

Natan is something like Silas Soule standing up to Chivington against Sand Creek. See here and here. I used to do draft counseling during Vietnam, part of the Boston Draft Resistance Group, and supported those who conscientiously resisted (some of whom went to jail, some of whom went to Canada; some of whom went into the army to organize against the war). What Natan has done, joining other conscientious refusers historically, will hopefully inspire others to take action against the Occupation and militarism.

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Recognizing the right of conscientious refusal to particular unjust wars is a long way up in America and Israel...

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Here is a Huffington Post report which includes some powerful words of Natan's (see the link at the bottom):

Natan Blanc Granted Release From Israeli Prison After Conscientious Objector Refused To Serve In Army
05/30/13

JERUSALEM -- The Israeli military has decided to release a young conscript who has spent the past six months in military prison for refusing to serve in the army due to his opposition to the occupation of the West Bank.

In a statement, it says a committee decided Wednesday that Natan Blanc was unfit for service [sic - anyone who joins the Israeli military during this Occupation is unfit for democratic military service]. It cited his "inability to adapt to military structure."

Military service is compulsory for Jewish Israeli males. Blanc, 20, has been sentenced to 10 consecutive jail terms since November.

The military said Thursday that Blanc will be released next week, when his current sentence ends.

Blanc's family says they're "happy this matter is resolved."

The Israeli advocacy group Yesh Gvul, which has assisted Blanc, says he will seek to do civilian national service after his release.

See here at the bottom for an interview with Haggai Matar on some of Natan's words.


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