FYI: Tel-Aviv University Sanskrit Scholar Yigal Bronner, Imprisoned!!!!!!!

hans henrich hock hhhock at UX1.CSO.UIUC.EDU
Tue Oct 29 15:12:01 UTC 2002

>Date: Mon, 28 Oct 2002 17:31:33 -0800
>To: Hans Henrich Hock <hhhock at>, loomba at,
>   skaul at, idutta at,
>   Ra Ravishankar <ravishan at>
>From: Simona Sawhney <ssawhney at>
>Subject: Fwd: Tel-Aviv University Sanskrit Scholar Yigal Bronner,
> Imprisoned!!!!!!!
>Hans, if this hasn't made it yet to the Indology list-serve, could
>you send it on? Thanks.
>>Date: Mon, 28 Oct 2002 10:35:47 -0500
>>From: schari at
>>To: hist.fac at, historians at, anthropology.faculty at,
>>  anthropology.students at
>>Subject: Fwd: Tel-Aviv University Sanskrit Scholar Yigal Bronner,
>>X-Originating-User: schari
>>Status: RO
>>yigal is a dear friend, a serious intellectual with a conscience to
>>match. please feel free to spread his inspiring letter, and to
>>write to him.
>>----- Forwarded message from Neve Gordon <ngordon at> -----
>>   Date: Mon, 28 Oct 2002 10:18:23 +0200
>>   From: Neve Gordon <ngordon at>
>>Reply-To: Neve Gordon <ngordon at>
>>Subject: Tel-Aviv University Sanskrit Scholar Yigal Bronner,
>>     To: ngordon at
>>Dear friends,
>>I have been jailed by the Israeli Army for refusing to take part in the
>>occupation of Palestine. I have been sentenced for 28 days in
>>military prison.
>>The reasons which led me to say no to the humiliation, dispossession and
>>starvation of an entire people are perhaps obvious to some of you.
>>Nonetheless, I have explained my motivations in the form of a letter to my
>>military superiors, and this statement is at the bottom of the letter and
>>can also be found at or at
>> or at
>> (Hebrew-version).
>>Please do not hesitate to send my statement to your friends as well.
>>This message is sent to you by my friend Neve Gordon, who has taken it upon
>>himself to keep you informed about my news. Please do not flood Neve with
>>messages. He will update you every once in a while, whenever there will be
>>something to report.
>>You can write me while I am in jail, Neve will let you know my address as
>>soon as he gets it. Those of you who know Galila should feel free to call
>>and support her. She, after all, clearly has the harder assignment. While
>>I'll be vacationing in jail, she'll be alone with both Amos and Naomi.
>>You may also help by protesting my imprisonment. At the bottom of this
>>message are fax numbers and addresses of several senior Israeli officials.
>>Please circulate all this information as widely as possible.
>>I want you to know that I am strong, and that I thank you for all
>>your support.
>>A Letter of Response to the General
>>By Yigal Bronner
>>It smashes down forests and crushes a hundred men.
>>But it has one defect:
>>It needs a driver.
>>(Bertolt Brecht)
>>Dear General,
>>In your letter to me, you wrote that "given the ongoing war in Judea,
>>Samaria and the Gaza Strip, and in view of the military needs," I am called
>>upon to "participate in army operations" in the West Bank.
>>I am writing to tell you that I do not intend to heed your call.
>>During the 1980s, Ariel Sharon erected dozens of settler colonies in the
>>heart of the occupied territories, a strategy whose ultimate goal was the
>>subjugation of the Palestinian people and the expropriation of their
>>land.  Today, these colonies control nearly half of the occupied
>>territories and are strangling Palestinian cities and villages as well as
>>obstructing -- if not altogether prohibiting -- the movement of their
>>residents.  Sharon is now prime minister, and in the past year he has been
>>advancing towards the definitive stage of the initiative he began twenty
>>years ago. Indeed, Sharon gave his order to his lackey, the Defense
>>Minister, and from there it trickled down the chain of command.
>>The Chief of Staff has announced that the Palestinians constitute a
>>cancerous threat and has commanded that chemotherapy be applied against
>>them.  The brigadier has imposed curfews without time limits, and the
>>colonel has ordered the destruction of Palestinian fields.  The division
>>commander has placed tanks on the hills between their houses, and has not
>>allowed ambulances to evacuate their wounded. The lieutenant colonel
>>announced that the open-fire regulations have been amended to an
>>indiscriminate order "fire!"  The tank commander, in turn, spotted a number
>>of people and ordered his artilleryman to launch a missile.
>>I am that artilleryman.  I am the small screw in the perfect war
>>machine.  I am the last and smallest link in the chain of command.  I am
>>supposed to simply follow orders -- to reduce my existence down to stimulus
>>and reaction, to hear the sound of "fire" and pull the trigger, to bring
>>the overall plan to completion.  And I am supposed to do all this with the
>>simplicity and naturalness of a robot, who -- at most -- feels the shaking
>>tremor of the tank as the missile is launched towards the target.
>>But as Bertolt Brecht wrote:
>>General, man is very useful.
>>He can fly and he can kill.
>>But he has one defect:
>>He can think.
>>And indeed, general, whoever you may be-- colonel, brigadier, chief of
>>staff, defense minister, prime minister, or all of the above-- I can
>>think.  Perhaps I am not capable of much more than that.  I confess that I
>>am not an especially gifted or courageous soldier; I am not the best shot,
>>and my technical skills are minimal.  I am not even very athletic, and my
>>uniform does not sit comfortably on my body.  But I am capable of thinking.
>>I can see where you are leading me.  I understand that we will kill,
>>destroy, get hurt and die, and that there is no end in sight.  I know that
>>the "ongoing war" of which you speak, will go on and on.  I can see that if
>>the "military needs" lead us to lay siege to, hunt down, and starve a whole
>>people, then something about these "needs" is terribly wrong.
>>I am therefore forced to disobey your call.  I will not pull the trigger.
>>I do not delude myself, of course. You will shoo me away. You will find
>>another artilleryman -- one who is more obedient and talented than I. There
>>is no dearth of such soldiers.  Your tank will continue to roll; a gadfly
>>like me cannot stop a rolling tank, surely not a column of tanks, and
>>definitely not the entire march of folly.  But a gadfly can buzz, annoy,
>>nudge, and at times even bite.
>>Eventually other artillerymen, drivers, and commanders, who will observe
>>the senseless killings and endless cycle of violence will also begin to
>>think and buzz.  We are already hundreds strong.  And at the end of the
>>day, our buzzing will turn into a deafening roar, a roar that will echo in
>>your ears and in those of your children. Our protest will be recorded in
>>the history books, for all generations to see.
>>So general, before you shoo me away, perhaps you too should begin to think.
>>Yigal Bronner
>>Please send letters of protest on behalf of the objectors to:
>>Mr. Binyamin Ben-Eliezer,
>>Minister of Defence,
>>Ministry of Defence,
>>37 Kaplan St.,
>>Tel-Aviv 61909,
>>E-mail: mailto:sar at or mailto:pniot at
>>Fax: ++972-3-696-27-57 / ++972-3-691-69-40 / ++972-3-691-79-15
>>Another useful address for sending copies would be the Military Attorney
>>Brig. Gen. Menachem Finklestein
>>Chief Military Attorney
>>Military postal code 9605
>>Fax: ++972-3-569-43-70
>>----- End forwarded message -----

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