For archive purposes, this article is being stored on TheWE.biz website.The purpose is to advance understandings of environmental, political,
human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues.
Hitler had a theory that Germany would be defended to the last drop of blood, so I was among a group of boys taken for military training in 1945 and then lined up and asked to fight.
You're 18 and a paratrooper.
You're learning new things and meeting interesting people.
You're an officer, commanding others.
It's an adventure.
You think that what you are doing is defending Israel, but soon find what you are really doing is occupying another country.
I was called up to fight in the invasion of Lebanon in the early 1980s.
I was naive and believed it was a war of defence.
It was easy for me, since as I was in an elite unit, I had very little to do with daily life of the occupation.
When we went to train in the Occupied Territories — the West Bank or Gaza — we would be off in the mountains or the desert and had no contact with the Palestinians.
That was until I was leading my men on a training mission in the Sinai desert and was ordered into Gaza after a Palestinian grenade attack on an army truck, which had killed two.
Intelligence had tracked the man responsible to a refugee camp and my unit, being the closest, was sent in to capture him.
So there was I, crawling through the mud and sewage of this camp in the middle of the night.
We knew he still had grenades, so we had to rush his house fast.
We caught him in bed.
His wife sleeping beside him was crying.
His children were crying.
We took him outside and handed him over to officers from another unit, so we could begin the search for the hand grenades.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw one of these officers cock his pistol and tell the prisoner to run in Arabic.
I didn't know what to do, I was shocked.
The man knew, like I did, that if he had obeyed the command run, he would have been shot.
He lay down and didn't get up, even though they kicked him.
Israeli military police eventually arrived to arrest him.
We never found the grenades and eventually were told our prisoner was the wrong man — he just happened to share the same name as the grenade attacker.
I don't know why I didn't do anything to stop what happened that night.
It was so hard to not be a part of such things when you are a soldier in the Occupied Territories.
That incident made me understand occupation and humiliation and showed me exactly what being an occupier was.
It still haunts me.
I began what is now called selective refusal.
As a reservist, I did not refuse to be called up, but I refused to be involved in policing actions.
Then I refused to cross into Lebanon or the Occupied Territories.
I talked with my soldiers.
A small minority said I was doing the right thing.
Another minority refused to talk to me because I had gone against our brotherhood.
The rest said we'd talk again when I got back from jail.
I was sent to prison for 35 days.
It was the beginning of the mass refusals and there were demonstrations in Tel Aviv calling for my release.
Once out, an officer again ordered me to go to Lebanon, and again I refused.
I heard him on the phone saying he wanted to send me back to my cell, but he was told to send me to a less elite unit as a punishment.
I felt it was too easy for me just to stop taking part in the occupation, so I set up the group Yesh Gvul to act as a model for other reservists and to support those who become refuseniks like me.
At Marine boot camp it's constantly 'Kill! Kill! Kill!'
There are contests to see which recruit can shout it the loudest.
Every time you do a push-up you shout 'Kill!'
I thought it was insane, but mouthed the word so as not to get in trouble.
My recruiter spotted I wasn't suited to the Marine Corps, but he sold me on all the valuable things I could learn.
I was going to be a reservist, not in the regular infantry, and would learn leadership skills and Boy Scout things like tying knots.
If I had talked to my family and friends before I had enlisted, I would never have joined.
Everyone was surprised.
It was so against my nature — I'm known as a liberal, non-violent person.
I'd graduated high school, and had left one college and moved to San Francisco to apply to another.
Being out of school for the first time and in a strange city, I felt I lacked direction.
I was depressed and not thinking clearly.
On the first day of boot camp everyone feels like they have made a big mistake.
But as the training progressed I realised the Corps' only reason for having me there was to teach me to kill people.
They try to deprogram recruits, make them forget things that are common to all people, forget the human aversion to killing.
I'd never even been in a fight before joining.
Boot camp made me think about my attitudes to violence.
I felt disgusted, hypocritical and trapped in a contract to do things I thought were wrong.
My speciality was landing support — loading fighting troops on and off of helicopters and landing craft.
Part of the job was to motivate the Marines to kill, to pump them up for battle.
When we practised it, I'd hide at the back of the group, I couldn't believe I'd really have to do this crazy thing.
When my turn was called, I just couldn't motivate the people to kill.
I thought it was wrong.
I expressed my concerns and raised questions during training, but was never told I could become a conscientious objector.
I only found out after I'd gone back to civilian life, and started to work on my application to leave the reserves.
It's not a simple process, and before I'd even finished the first draft, I was called up to go to Iraq.
A lawyer looked at my form and said it needed more work.
So I told my base I wasn't going to report, that I was a conscientious objector and that I would hand myself in when the form was finished.
Mine was a small base, and I wasn't sure they knew what they were doing.
I didn't want to report in case they did something crazy, like detaining me.
I wanted to go public with my story, to warn other young people thinking of joining up.
When I got the media involved, the Corps put a warrant out for me for desertion.
I reported back and was transferred to New Orleans with 20 other objectors.
We mostly sit around reading, waiting for our application to be processed.
It's not just the politics of the war on Iraq that I oppose, it's war in general.
I'm a pacifist and opposed to participating in any conflict.
They don't solve anything and just perpetuate a bad situation.
The Corps told my lawyer it would try to court martial me for desertion, but it would have to prove I had no intention of returning.
I handed myself in, so I'm not worried.
Perhaps I should be.
Interviews by Ryan Dilley.
'Conscientious objectors' denied
02 Apr 03 | England
From army officer to conscientious objector
06 Nov 02 | Hardtalk
Korean pacifists fight conscription
05 May 02 | Asia-Pacific
Israel's culture of reservists
01 Feb 02 | Middle East
RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites