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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Conversations With An Anarchist Soldier

Traveling through North Western Europe by hitchhiking encouraged me to have personal conversations with different people. One of those people was Christian. A middle-aged traveling Anarchist.

Christian told me about his history in Germany. Back in his youth, I guess about forty(40) years ago, he was issued a draft into the army. That was back when they had mandatory army service. He told me about how he came to the conclusion that killing people and following commands as a soldier would be wrong. That he did not and does not support what they do, and do not believe in their ways.

After he was finished sharing his short history and origins as an anarchist, I told him how much trouble I had went through, when I decided to go against the Israeli army, after being drafted. Unlike a pacifist, who fends off the draft ahead of time, I was not decided on how I felt. So, when my parents pushed me to join the army, I went along.

Big mistake. Well, it was an adventure, and I did learn a lot about the insides of the dysfunctional military complex. It is always useful to know things first hand, especially if you decide to do anything about it, later on.

My journey inside the Israeli Army started by being drafted into boot camp for infantry. We ran and we shouted and we had long guns. We shot them, too. I did not feel anything about it, until I had a chance to speak with a guy who did this routine before me. He was from a couple drafts ago, so he had already seen and done quite a lot. Things move very rapidly, when you just join the army. They do not give you a moments' rest nor a full night's sleep.

He was injured from their routine. I am a curious guy, so I asked him about how it was like in their situation. What I heard brought me back into reality. Confrontations with Arabic civilians, and military training that guarantees serious injuries. Spending endless days in remote hell-holes without any purpose, but to be a watch dog that bites criminals and innocents alike.

I did not like what I heard. The emotion inside of me that goes against all that is hateful, harmful and ignorant rang loud and clear. The following day, I felt unwell and insisted that I cannot join the morning routine. Instead of sending me to the camp doctor, I received endless threats and was eventually just ignored, in my bunk - in the desert. As an added bonus, the other cadets were encouraged to taunt me, and so I was verbally bullied for the rest of my stay.

This reaffirmed my suspicion, that being humane or sensible are not army values. It was a couple of amusing weeks that followed actually, as I simply roamed the camp with a friend, who was unwilling to cooperate, as well. He was from a religious background, but was forced into the army, anyway. Naturally, everything and anything was foreign and harmful to him in the army, so his response was expected. In my case, I was simply considered spoiled. We messed around with people and stuff in the camp and did things that might get me in trouble if I published, while still living in this country. That is what happens when people ignore you, instead of work with you. You become free and troublesome.

Eventually, our time had come, and we had some higher up officer sentence both of us to the same punishment. Eight(8) days in army jail, with the first night under arrest, which was, in all practicality, a tight dungeon. Not very friendly, but we were still cheerful. The real shock came when they took us in a small truck without windows, with all the other soldier prisoners smoking heavily inside, to the central jail facility. You can imagine how quickly I got used to cigarette smoke, even being a non-smoker, before that.

In jail, they made us wear prison uniforms - amusingly, they were old USA military uniforms - and they made us do chores, for most of the day, every day, but Saturday. Labor camp by Jews and for Jews. It is not for nothing that people use the term Judeonazi on many Israelis.

I had two memorable events in jail. One, was a thug trying to force me into giving him my cigarette allowance. Yes, we had cig' allowances every day or so. Not being a smoker, I just gave it away to the guy who came in with me. The thug, on my second day, approached and put his arm over me - in a "friendly" manner. I think I surprised him to no end by immediately reaching over with my own arm. I explained that I do not smoke and that my cig's are with my friend, and that he is free to share them. I was left alone after that.

The other event taught me a lot about totalitarian regimes. I spent too long on the can, doing the infamous "number two", which we all do daily. By "too long" I mean that the guy watching over me said that I need to get out, and I responded by saying that I am not ready. To my horror, I was facing the jail judge the very next day. A twenty-something year old girl in officer uniform. She was planning on giving me more time in jail, just because she felt I was being rude. I admit that I can be a very rude person, in general, but I still felt that forcing jail-time on me was harsh.

Luckily, this ended without incident, as my mom came to my help and talked with the officer, by phone, about not extending my stay. She gave some medical excuse and I was forgiven and forgotten. I found myself working the rest of my days there, by washing everyone's dishes by day, and by doing tower-watch by night. That is, watching so that nothing goes through the jail fence. It was an urban area.

After that wild month or so in the army, learning what being infantry is all about, under the misguided advice of my parents, I agreed to be drafted again. This time, into clerical duty.

Tomorrow, I will continue this historical post about being a clerk in the army, and reach the conclusion of one of my very first wild adventures, as an adult in society.

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