“I am only 18 and a Pacifist”

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Mr. Yair Halper, 18, has been sentenced today (17 Oct.) to 28 days of imprisonment and is now being transferred to Military Prison No. 4 in Tzrifin after refusing to enlist in the Israeli army. It is likely that he will refuse to wear military uniform in prison and will be held in the isolation ward of the prison (which is not solitary confinement, but where there is a history of mistreatment of prisoners by wardens). Following is a statement Yair has made before going to prison, describing his conscientious stand:

Shalom,

My name is Yair Halper and I am a conscientious objector to military service. On Wednesday the 17 October 2001, I will be incarcerated for my beliefs.

I consider myself a pacifist, and I am using that word only for the lack of a better one. I am only 18, still a child (at least in my eyes). I keep asking myself what the hell do I know about pacifism? My beliefs were never really tested. But still, “pacifist” is the closest word I could find to describe and define what I am.

As a pacifist I object to any army universally, no matter where it is, who operates it or what purposes it serves. Furthermore, I object to service in the Israel Defence Forces in particular for political reasons. I will never carry a weapon and I refuse to wear a uniform or any symbol that represents, or that will in any way label me, as part of the army.

I see the Israeli army as a mechanism that hosts everything I oppose in its ranks. Every soldier contributes in his/her way to the perpetuation of not only the complete disregard for Palestinian human rights, but also the continuing fortification and confirmation of Military Israel.

The army brainwashes its soldiers to receive a brutal and inhumane mentality and makes the single soldier lose his/her individuality. I will not join a system that does not value human rights and that continues to rape, control and occupy the Palestinian territories.

As naive and clichéd as it sounds, I know of only one way to live my life and that is by being true to myself, holding fast to my beliefs and principles and living by what they dictate to me.

Yes, I am willing and will be proud to sit in jail for what I see right.

I would appreciate any support, be it by letters, phone calls or any way you see fit.

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