When I was 13 my city was hit by missiles during the second Lebanon war. We had only a few minutes to run to the bottom floor every time the alarm was heard. My friend’s house was hit by a missile and was completely destroyed. Fortunately, she was not at home at the time.
When I was 15, another war broke- the Gaza War of 2008. My city, Haifa, is in northern Israel. It is close to Lebanon and far away from Gaza. Northern Israel was hardly affected during the Gaza War. Even though my city wasn’t hit, no friends’ houses were ruined, and my life went on as usual, of the two wars, the Gaza War was far harder for me. The reason was the hatred I suddenly saw all around me.
People were happy when the enemy was hit. People rejoiced every time news came of another bombing, another attack on enemy territory. People were indifferent to innocent lives lost on the other side, indifferent to children dying.
The war was four years before my destined date for joining the Israeli army. I heard my friends saying, “Boy, I wish I were in the army now so I could go and kill those Arabs!”
That was when I learned the real evil of war- it causes death and ruin, but even worse than that is the blinding hatred and demonization it causes between the two sides. The houses ruined by the missiles could be rebuilt, but the hatred between the people will be almost impossible to reverse.
It was during the Gaza War that I decided that I would not serve in the Israeli army. I decided I will not take part in building up the hatred between the Israelis and Arabs in Israel. I changed my mind a few times in between, but four years later, in November 2012, I reported to the induction base and refused to join the Israeli army. I was imprisoned a total of ten times, spending six months in and out of prison. Eventually, the army tired of me, and I will begin alternative civil service in September.
I don’t know if this conflict in the Middle East will ever end, but I hope my refusal was a small step towards diminishing the hatred between the two peoples.
About Natan Blanc, Young Adviser
Natan Blanc was born in Jerusalem, and moved to Haifa (a major city in Israel) when he was a kid. Haifa is a “mixed” city, with both Arabs and Jews, so he learned about co-existence and peace between people of different religions at an early age. Learn more about Natan here.
Congratulations To Our New Young Advisers
Writing for Peace is pleased to introduce two remarkable young peace activists, the founding members of our new panel of Young Advisers. Both have shown an extraordinary commitment to peace. Check their pages and watch our blog for their inspirational posts.
Natan Blanc is an Israeli who refused to serve in the IDF (Israeli army) “because of its actions against the Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank.” Natan held fast to his convictions, despite being jailed ten times.
Lyla June Johnston is a Navajo poet and peace activist from Taos, New Mexico, who has found her home in the service of humanity.
Writing for Peace is accepting nominations of young activists, writers, and artists, for our new panel of Young Advisers. Please send nominations by email, along with the reasons for your nomination and contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org, subject heading: Young Adviser Nominations.
2014 Young Writers Contest
The Writing for Peace 2014 Young Writers Contest deadline is March 1st, 2014. Our prestigious Judges Panel includes Robin Black, fiction; Dinty W. Moore, nonfiction; and David Mason, poetry. Submission guidelines here.
Writing for Peace is accepting submissions for our 2014 Issue of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts. The theme of our second journal is contrast. Check out our submission guidelines here.
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Help us reach out to schools and young writers by purchasing a copy of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts to gift to your local high school or junior high. Let us know you are gifting your copy, and we’ll include extra bookmarks (beautifully designed by artist-in-residence, PdLietz). Purchase our 2013 “Occupied” Issue here.
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