Tracking and Social Objection in Israel
This article focuses on the stories of conscientious objectors from Israel's social periphery, suggesting that their refusal to serve in the military reflects a form of social objection – resistance to being tracked into inferior positions in the army and in society. This conceptualization undermines the common perception, which views military service as a unique path for social mobility, and exposes the damage, both in practice and symbolically, caused to the disempowered by military stratification mechanisms.
The social objection is comprised of two discourse types. The first is an explicitly articulated objection to the military's selection and tracking system. Avoiders of this type continue to nurture feelings of estrangement, grudge, and criticism toward the military, even afterwards. The second discourse is made up of reserved social objectors, who object to military tracking in real time, yet express reservations in hindsight, in the form of guilt, regret, shame, and re-adoption of military dictates.
Each of these two discourses involves varying amounts of resistance and conformity, and demonstrates the trap in which the disempowered find themselves in their relationship with the army and the state. On the one hand, they may experience the military system as unrewarding, discriminating, and humiliating, and vehemently refuse to be part of it. On the other hand, their non-service threatens their position within the national collective, which makes them frame their choice, in retrospect, as an undesired disruption in their life course, thus preserving the idea of military service as a meaningful, rewarding experience. Despite this duality, military service avoidance in the social periphery is revealed as a form of social protest – through its circumstances, tactics, and intentions – demanding equal opportunities, just distribution of collective resources, and above all – social recognition.