When the individual soldier says 'no' to war: A look at selective refusal during the Intifada

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This paper is an attempt to profile the personal and societal incentives for selective refusal among Israeli reserve soldiers during the Intifada. The article draws in part upon Kohlberg's model of moral development and addresses the following questions: (1) What is the motivation for selective refusal in times of morally-controversial conflicts such as the Intifada? (2) What socio-psychological incentives could ease the way to refusal? (3) What differentiates the individual objecting soldier from the objecting soldier who does not refuse to serve? The data for this theoretical discussion are taken from studies of 48 Israeli reserve soldiers out of 165 who decided to refuse military service within the first four years of the Intifada (Linn, 1995a, 1995b, 1995c) and of 36 out of 86 soldiers who refused during the war in Lebanon (Linn, 1989a). The findings suggest that unlike other objecting yet nonrefusing soldiers, the selective refusers were motivated to change the unjust situation by assuming a position of disobedience to which they were personally predisposed and were capable of doing in their close milieu. Intifada and Lebanon refusers differed in their political affiliation and their different social support for their action.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-431
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Peace Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Safety Research
  • Political Science and International Relations


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