Daily Israel Report
Show More

OpEds


Professor: Call to Boycott Iran Raid 'Betrayal'

A head of the Israeli Institute for Democracy slammed academics for urging IDF pilots to refuse to participate on an attack on Iran
By David Lev
First Publish: 8/16/2012, 2:59 PM

Yedidya Stern
Yedidya Stern
Flash90

In an interview with Arutz Sheva, Prof. Yedidia Stern, Vice President of Research at the Israel Democracy Institute, said that a petition circulated this week by Tel Aviv University professors calling on Israel Air Force pilots to boycott an attack on Iran, shut down the motors and refuse to obey orders,  if one comes about - is a “scandal".

"Despite the fact that the organizers and signers of the document are clearly facing a crisis of conscience, they do not get a 'pass' on observing the basic rules of democracy and parliamentary procedure,” Stern said. “If the signers want to change things, they should be seeking the assistance of civilians, not IDF soldiers.”

The online petition, effectively a call to mutiny, was organized by several academics, led by Tel Aviv University law professors Menachem Mautner, former head of the Law Department,  and Chaim Gans. The letter says that an attack on Iran would be a “mistaken gamble,” and that Israel would pay a heavy price for an attack that would at best delay Iran's nuclear program.

The petition says that while those signing could be jeopardizing their military service and even civilian careers, they would be “rendering an important and vital service to the State of Israel and all who live here” by showing Israelis that they do not have to “blindly obey” the government's apparent intention to embark on a highly questionable mission. It does not raise the issue of a democratically elected government's right to make decisions that law-abiding citizens obey and the lawful methods to fight decisions with which a citizen disagrees

In the interview, Stern said that there was a major imbalance in the relationship between those issuing the petition and those called upon to carry it out. “Academics sit in their comfortable chairs and demand that others disobey the law,” he said. “Let them fulfill their own words and disobey the law themselves. Let them not pay taxes or hold a hunger strike.” That, he said, would be much more honest than just issuing a document.

Stern added that despite their apparent concern for soldiers, the academics clearly hold them in disdain. The petition states that if they participate in a raid on Iran, they could end up losing their jobs, being captured by Iran, or even being put on trial for “war crimes.”

The petition organizers, he said, “are resorting to threats, something unacceptable in a democracy. It appears that this is an act of betrayal of the principles of democracy by these academics,” Stern said, adding that his organization, which has protested against calls by those on the right to boycott IDF service when soldiers attempt to dismantle communities in Judea and Samaria, was morally bidden to do the same thing when the calls come from the left.