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Breaking Ranks Hardcover – May 17, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

On January 25, 2002, a letter was published in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz in which 52 Israeli army reservists asked their fellow soldiers to join them in refusing to serve in the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. (More than 500 soldiers have now joined in their cause.) They believed that the 1993 Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinians were being violated by Israel. The soldiers were disturbed by what they called "the force they were expected to use as soldiers against a civilian population collectively penalized for its uprising against the occupation." Their letter was intended to persuade Israeli Jews that unwarranted violence against civilians threatened Israel's existence and eroded the Zionist principles in which they had been raised. In conversations with Chacham, nine so-called "Refuseniks" tell why they disobeyed orders to serve there, citing the wrongdoings of the Israeli army. Whether readers agree or disagree with their beliefs, this book is essential in understanding Israeli society today and the growing conflict in the Middle East. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

Middle East Journal 2004

"Ronit Chacham's Breaking Ranks rise[es] to the level of the literature of testimony, the literature that stays news forever, that will not allow injustice to be forgotten, that records what the victums themselves cannot record ... the Isareli voices, aided by a sense of detachment, takes us to the heart of the Palestinian experience; they bombard our senses with rich, sensory detail, the images of brutality and oppression stay embedded in our memory."

Publishers Weekly 2003

The Critic's Credo: Breaking Ranks
May 1, 2003

Military service is an integral part of life in Israel: both men and women serve in the Israel Defense Forces; devotion to the country's survival is a given. So disobeying an order is a remarkable action--one discussed in depth here by nine "refuseniks," Israeli soldiers (all officers) who refused to serve in the Occupied Territories. They tell Chacham, an Israeli cultural critic and fiction writer, about their upbringings, their crises of conscience, the mistreatment of Palestinians by themselves and others ("Our job was giving the Palestinians a hard time," says one), their attempt to reconcile support for Palestinian rights with devotion to their homeland, their refusals to serve and the consequences. "When you're there [in the territories], you're committing crimes whether you like it or not....I'm not political," says one. "I speak from personal experience when I say I can't stand it anymore." Anyone trying to understand why these men have taken the action they have will be moved by their thoughtfulness and articulateness.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Other Press; New edition edition (May 17, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590510437
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590510438
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,738,483 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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15 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Michele P. on July 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book has catapultited me into a new level of consciousness!
I have been waiting for a book to educate me on this topic and not only have I been educated, but moved to look into activism on this issue. I am neither Jewish nor very knowledgeable in politics. This book is right to the point and I found myself totally engrossed. The men in this book are awesome and I am proud to walk the planet with them. They are educated, brave, compassionate and passionate. I hope that you not only read Breaking Ranks, but go to the website afterwards and become involved in some way.
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13 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Joanneva12a on October 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Thought provoking essays that explore the conscience and consciousness of each `refusenik's soul searching, and their journey to refusal. To date 550 IDF soldiers have either refused, or pledged to refuse serving in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. That is a huge number!
The stories these soldiers tell, will often give you a glimpse into both Israeli and Palestinian society, showing how people's perception are shaped, and mindsets nearly paralyzed by governments and leaders ( on both sides ) that have cultivated only fear and hate over the years, why it must end, and how.
The author throws out tough questions to them, challenging both their patriotic duty and moral convictions. I feel they answer with great clarity and conviction. All the men in this book are well educated, and articulate. All have served in the occupied territories at one point or another, and have either committed or witnessed first hand, lets call them brutalities. They all are deeply devoted to Israeli society and believe that "the best way to serve their society is not to perpetuate its injustices"
There are some stark warnings to heed in this book. Many times American dogma and mindset after 9-11 and the `War on Terror' is cited as an analogy to give reference to the phenomenon of jingoistic thinking taking place.
This book was written before the recent refusal of 27 Israeli pilots who refused to take part in targeted assassinations, claiming that they resulted in civilan deaths, and that "the black flag of illegality is waving."
Do not think for a moment that the decision to refuse came easily for these men. It did not.
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