Anti-enlistment ad draws ire

Ad attempts to cast those who refuse to serve in positive light.

idf soldiers 224 88 (photo credit: IDF [file])
idf soldiers 224 88
(photo credit: IDF [file])
In an attempt to provide Israeli youth with an alternative way to view their compulsory military service, the activist group New Profile has sponsored an advertisement featured on Israeli websites calling on young people to "think before they enlist". The ad, which has appeared over the last 10 days on the Walla Web site, is an attempt to cast those who decide to refuse to serve in the military in a positive light. After its appearance on Walla, the ad will move to the website Nana, where it will appear for another 10 days. "Young people are bombarded with messages that say they have to serve in the army, and that if they don't, they're labeled as draft dodgers," says Lotan Raz, an activist with New Profile. "We want to say that military service cannot and should not be criteria for good citizenship. We think that military service is something you need to think about. Instead of bashing people, we think the country should hear what these people have to say." On the other side of the issue stands a group called the Israeli Forum for the Promotion of Equal Share in the Burden. The forum, which recently made headlines for threatening to boycott the FOX clothing line unless they included in their contract with model Bar Rafaeli that she join the army or fulfill national service, has filed a lawsuit against New Profile for what they see as unlawful and seditious action. "We're not saying that everyone has to go to the army," said Tuli Herman, a forum member. "But we do feel that people should contribute to the country. We view the actions of this group as egocentric and selfish." Overall, New Profile is a self-described "Movement for the Civilization of Israeli Society", a left-wing, anti-military movement whose site hosts articles entitled "The fight not to fight", and "An excellent reason not to join the military", among others. Raz, who did not serve in the army due to "ideological reasons," confirmed that the majority of his colleagues at New Profile also abstained from their compulsory service. Herman and her colleagues at the forum are concerned by this. "We saw that they have branches all over the country," she said of New Profile. "They have money too - we don't know from where, but they are getting money from somewhere." Herman also told The Jerusalem Post that New Profile members have tried to sabotage her groups' meetings on numerous occasions. While the Forum has taken legal action against New Profile, their ad is sure to draw fire from the government and army as well, as they have invested significant time and money over the past year combating draft dodging and the refusal of military service. Still, Raz and New Profile are defiant. "We're happy that this creates a dialogue and that it opens up a discussion," he told the Post Monday. "It's better to be attacked than to be silent. We aren't telling people not to serve, we're countering situations where information is shoved down these people's throats." Still, as military threats to Israel continue to emanate from Gaza to Lebanon and beyond, Raz and New Profile hope to apply a different message to what they see as a cycle of military force on both sides. "Over the course of history," Raz says, "we've been confronting these people, and the more we've used military force, the more it's caused violence on both sides. If Israel chooses to live in peace, they can make that choice, and move it forward. If we make that choice, things will move forward on all fronts."