The Israeli military imprisoned me for 10 days for staying true to my moral compass
Sliman Abu Ruken, a 19 years old Druze enlistment refuser, had spent 10 days in military prison. With support by the Mesarvot network he received his military exemption three weeks ago. This is his statement:
Recently I refused enlistment to the Israeli military after the first semester in a military academic course, since I realized that I can’t serve the military system and stay true to my moral compass - a moral compass driven by an understanding that our identity as humans is stronger than any other identity, and that a brutal, discriminatory treatment of other people, just because they are different than us, is unacceptable.
The fact that the army imprisoned me for being loyal to my sense of morality has strengthened the insight that I cannot serve in it. I’ve experienced the military’s apathy towards the soldier (or the would-be soldier), the system’s apathy towards the individual who cannot and does not want to serve it.
In prison, I’ve gotten the tiniest taste of the Israeli military’s punishment for the Palestinians in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, a severe life sentence they received simply for existing as different humans. The means of punishment include a complete denial of freedom of movement, freedom of speech and any possibility of deciding how my day will go. On top of that, I’ve experienced a total indifference towards my basic mental needs during my imprisonment.
My time in prison made me appreciate my family and friends, things I took for granted, but which are taken away daily from millions of people who are forcibly separated from their loved ones, who need several different documents to visit friends and receive medical care, whose way of life is constantly disrupted by Israeli policy determined without their choice, arbitrary policies which can sometimes deliberately seek to undermine their daily lives in order to force them into isolated enclaves and further the illegal settlements. These are millions of humans whose existence and needs Israeli society chooses to ignore, using a system that simultaneously denies their basic legitimate rights and works to dehumanize them.
The refusal and the process of learning about the reality and the crimes committed around me, crimes which Israeli society works to hide and whitewash, made me understand that I am morally obligated to learn more and to take action; at the very least, to not ignore the reality and serve the system responsible for these wrongs. This is the obligation of every person with a moral compass, every person who believes that no group has the right to oppress and humiliate another.
Thank you to my family, to the Mesarvot network, without which I wouldn’t have been able to survive this period, and to all the people surrounding me who’ve supported and empowered me.
In solidarity, Sliman
Sliman Abu Ruken: The Israeli military imprisoned me for 10 days for staying true to my moral compass. October 23. 2022. www.refuser.org