Israeli Conscientious Objector Begins 10-day Sentence for Refusing to Serve in IDF

Moriel Rothman, 23, a Jerusalem native who lived in the United States for two decades, says he is acting in 'solidarity with the Palestinians living under occupation.'

A U.S.-Israeli citizen who is refusing to perform his compulsory IDF service as a "conscientious objector", has a  has been sentenced to ten days in a military jail, Haaretz has learned.

Moriel Rothman, 23, a Jerusalem native who lived in the United States for two decades before returning to Israel last year, reported Wednesday to IDF headquarters outside in Tel Aviv after receiving a draft notice last June. Rothman told Haaretz late Wednesday night that he had been sentenced.

The IDF Spokespersons Unit responded, "The soldier was arrested for avoiding the draft and for violating the Security Service Law and was sentenced to 10 days' incarceration," the IDF Spokesman's Unit said in a statement.

"The above-mentioned soldier submitted a request to appear before the Conscience Committee, and when he completes his sentence a decision will be made concerning the rest of his military service."

The statement did not mention where Rothman was being held.

In an interview with Haaretz, Rothman said he had planned to state his objections to IDF officials, knowing full well he faced incarceration. Rothman said he appealed the June letter, which was rejected ten days ago.

In a long letter posted to his blog, "The Leftern Wall," earlier this week, Rothman, a long-time resident of Yellow Springs, Ohio, laid out his manifesto, framing his refusal to serve in the Israel Defense Forces "on the basis of conscience, opposition to structural violence and the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories."

Clad in jeans, a plaid shirt and sandals, and an army-style jacket, Rothman appeared at an East Jerusalem transit point for soldiers at 8 A.M. Wednesday en route to Tel Aviv, accompanied by about ten friends and family members. He was holding a bag that he said bore a "toothbrush, some almonds, a notebook, a pen, and books by Hanoch Levin, Rebbe Nachman [of Bratslov], [Jorge Luis] Borges and the Dalai Lama."

"Occupation can only be theoretical if you are not occupied, and thus my refusal to support the occupation by serving in the IDF is also an act of solidarity with Palestinians living under occupation," blogged Rothman, a 2011 graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont, and former student president of the national board of "J Street U," the student organizing arm of J Street, a non-profit liberal advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.

Moriel Rothman at Ammunition Hill
Sahar Vardi