Conscientious Objector Wants Civil, Not Military, Court Hearing

The attorney representing some of the young "conscientious objectors" currently serving jail terms for refusing to report for military duty, Michael Sfarad, has appealed to the Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein to have the case of one such objector, Yoni Ben-Artzi, transferred from a military tribunal to a civil district court. Sfarad argues that as Ben-Artzi's case is not a refusal to obey a military order - which would imply a hearing in a military court - but a refusal to obey a state law, based on pacifist beliefs, and therefore a civil matter.

"In the case of drafting yeshiva students," Sfarad expounded, "the army refrained form taking a position, and treated it not as a military matter but one concerning society in general. So the pacifist argument should be seen likewise, and be left to the civil system."

Sfarad noted that, in the U.S. during times when there was no exemption from military duty, trials of objectors were also dealt with in civil courts. Israel's law of military duty has a clause on punishment which, he said, would seem more appropriate to this case. Sfarad asked for Rubinstein to respond to his request prior to the hearing before the IDF conscience committee, scheduled within the next two weeks.