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Anti-Israel Conferences
[BGU] Neve Gordon: "The Art of Israeli Homeland Security" [TAU] Uri Hadar "Insubordination & Mental Health"on draft-dodging & Anarchists Against the Wall


The Israeli Center for Digital Art

Israel as a Social Laboratory
Conference At the Israeli Center for Digital Art, 16 Yirmiyahu Street, 

Holon Tuesday, January 5 at 8:00pm

This is the third conference in the framework of the exhibition

"Evil to the Core" at the Israeli Center for Digital Art.

The exhibition and accompanying conferences seek to raise 

issues for discussion concerning obedience to authority, 

conformism, individual and social responsibility, non-compliance, 

and nonconformism in general, and in Israeli society in particular.  

This conference asks how utopia is implemented and

what tools enable the creation of a utopia in the geographic, 

political, security and social spheres, according to the model 

play-written by Herzl and directed by Ben Gurion. 

Their joint production created a Hebrew speaking country defined by 

Jewish ethnicity in  the territory of the Middle East through

the binding establishment of intimidation, the economy, social 

engineering, planning and construction, to create a harmonized 

project in which every citizen (and non-citizen) is a partner 

in a social experiment on the stage of history.



Reality TV: An Experiment – But on Who?
Noam Yoran researches culture and barbarism. He writes and teaches 

writing on television at the University of Tel Aviv.

Tenants of an Experiement: Glikson neighbourhood in Kiryat-Gat
Zvi Elhyani is an architect, lecturer and researcher of Israeli 

architecture and space.

Zionism is Not a Project
Dr. Boaz Neumann is a historian and teaches history at Tel Aviv University. 

Neumann’s principal field of research is the history and philosophy of 



The Art of Israeli Homeland Security
Dr. Neve Gordon is a senior lecturer and head of the Politics and Government 

Department at Ben Gurion University. His areas of research include political

thought, human rights, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Joshua Simon is a curator and co-editor of Maayan, a poetry and art 

magazine and the editor of Maarvon magazine, a new magazine about cinema.

An action by the group Public Movement will accompany the conference.

Free entrance with advanced booking – 03-5568792.
It is recommended to arrive early to see the exhibition.

Evil to the Core
A New Project from the Israeli Center for Digital Art
03.11.2009 – 16.01.2010

Opening on 31.10.2009 @ 20:00

This exceptional project follows some of the key experiments that were 

conducted in the field of social psychology between 1961 to 1971, which

deal with obedience to authority, individual responsibility and social 

responsibility.  The exhibition will take place in parallel with the 60th

anniversary of the signing of the four Geneva treaties and in collaboration 

with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.

In the exhibition are a mix of art works and Israeli and international 

documentary films dealing with socialization, obedience, power, authority, 

and resistance, and by way of which arises another commonality – three 

fundamental methodologies: simulation, experiment, and reenactment. The

points of entry in the research leading up to the exhibition are the 

experiments in social psychology of the 1960s and 70s in the United States:

Stanley Milgram’s “Obedience” experiment and Philip Zimbardo’s 

“Stanford Prison Experiment,” both investigated the measure of obedience to

authority in cases where participants were instructed to implement 

actions contrary to their principles and conscience.  These same 


experiments are still taught today in the field of psychology.

The exhibition wishes to raise questions on obedience, disobedience, 

conformism and social responsibility by way of the works and films exhibited


Participating artists: Rod Dickinson, Artur Zmijewski, David Tartakover, 

David Reeb, Amir Yatziv, and Noam Gelbart

Screening Program
52/50, Uri Bar-On
Enraged, Eyal Itskovits
To See If I’m Smiling, Tamar Yarom
Machsomim, Yoav Shamir
Z32, Avi Mograbi

Films in the Exhibition:
Eye of the Storm, ABC News
Total Isolation, BBC Horizon
The Human Behavior Experiment, Jigsaw Productions
Obedience, Stanley Milgram Experiment
The Stanford Prison Experiment, Zimbardo

Curators: Ran Kasmy Ilan and Galit Eilat

The exhibition is a collaboration with the

Association for Civil Rights in Israel 

and their Program for International Humanitarian Law.


Rod Dickinson’s visit Supported by BI ARTS (British Israeli 

arts training scheme), an initiative of the British Council, 

Ministry of Foreign Affairs






Evil to the Core
Galit Eilat and Ran Kasmy Ilan

The year 1961 marked the entry of the voice of the repressed 

Israeli “other” into the heart of the local discourse upon the 

opening of the Eichmann Trial at Israel’s Congress Center in Jerusalem. 

This formative event presented to the Israeli public, for the first time, 

the voices of the survivors who served as witnesses. Later on, 

Hannah Arendt would write in her book Eichmann in Jerusalem about 

Eichmann’s testimony: “It was as though in those last minutes

he was summing up the lesson that this long course in human wickedness 

had taught us—the lesson of the fearsome, word-and-thought-defying banality

of evil.”1

In the very same year of the Eichmann Trial, Stanley Milgram conducted his 

famous experiment in social psychology, “Obedience to Authority,” [4] 

at Yale’s Department of Psychology. He wanted to prove the argument that 

collaborators with the Nazi extermination program were “merely following 


The experiment explored the influence of authority on human subjects and 

the limit to which those subjects were prepared to obey an authoritative 

figure who instructed them to perform acts contrary to their values. 

The first series of experiments indicated that 65% of the participants 

agreed to administer seemingly real electric shocks of increasing intensity, 

from 15 to 450 volts, to another individual only because a figure of 

authority had instructed them to do so. 

While some voiced objection to the instruction and the act, none of 

the participants stopped the experiment before reaching 300 volts.

The exhibition “Evil to the Core” addresses issues pertaining to docility 

and obedience to authority, conformism, social responsibility, disobedience, 

and non-conformism in general, and in Israeli society specifically. 

The exhibition combines different materials, works of art, and documentary 

films exploring socialization, obedience, power, authority, and resistance. 

Three major methods run through them: simulation, experimentation, and 

reconstruction or reenactment, which may be regarded as methods shaping 

the reality of the present.

Amir Yatziv’s Detroit consists of a map which the artist found in a military 

training area, a video piece, and photographs. The title of the installation 

was borrowed from the IDF’s training area near Ze’elim in the country’s 

southern region. Is it accidental that an IDF training area was named after 

the American city of Detroit, once a bustling metropolis, and now a ghost 

town of sorts? “Detroit” is a 1:1 simulation of a Palestinian city of 

identical area. The simulation generates an alternative reality (at times 

sterile) which conceals the true reality. The fictive reality becomes 

a source for rich, luring stimuli, that may often overshadow the actual 

experience of reality, as in the case of movie towns, Disneyland, or 

“war games” held at the highest echelons of the military system.

In the video work accompanying the installation, Yatziv presents the 

architectural plans of the Israeli “Detroit” to various urban planners, 

asking them to analyze the city for him. They all express varying 

measures of discontent with the city plan, but none realizes that 

it is a city constructed for the sole purpose of simulation. 

The mosque architect is baffled by the fact that such a tall mosque 

was erected for a city of such scale, whereas another urban planner

wonders why, in this new city, no road was paved to facilitate vehicular 

traffic between the commercial center and the residential neighborhoods.

The training city “Detroit” was intended to prepare soldiers for combat 

in a built-up area. It resembles a Muslim quarter, thus meeting the users’ 

needs in a simulation which would furnish them with a fantasy of 

an Arab city. 

The essence of this city is replaced by its fictive image. 

“Detroit” even contains live targets. 

A private company supplies extras with an “Eastern” look to play 

the Palestinians in the simulation. Is “Detroit” a simulation that went out 

of control during the operation in Gaza? The Gazan “Detroit” is devoid of 

flowering gardens; the city’s residents are mere extras, and the houses 

contain no books or any other sign of life. The simulation prepares the 

fighter for “better” confrontation in real time, striving to neutralize 

the element of surprise in battle by exercising which dulls the shock of 

encounter with the real. The simulation enables distant confrontation, 

based on previous experiences, and not on the initial encounter in the 

battlefield; at the same time, it might establish automatic patterns of 

action and cause numbness.2

On April 4, 1968, Jane Elliott, a third grade teacher in Iowa, USA, 

turned on her television set to discover that Martin Luther King had 

been assassinated.

There, in her living room, she decided to teach her 8-year old pupils 

a lesson in racism. The very next day, Tuesday April 5, she held the first 

experiment in racism in her classroom: she declared her blue-eyed pupils 

superior to the rest, bestowing upon them privileges at the expense of 

the others. Blue-eyed and brown-eyed pupils were disallowed to drink 

from the same drinking fountains. The latter were asked to wear a special 

collar around their necks denoting their inferiority. The blue-eyed 

students became almost automatically haughty, bossy, and cruel toward 

their brown-eyed peers. The next day, the roles were reversed—the 

brown-eyed pupils became the superior, whereas the blue-eyed became an 

untouchable minority.

Elliott, whose experiment is documented in the film The Eye of the Storm 

(director: William Peters) screened in the exhibition, conceived of 

a simulation which corresponds with the reality by which American society 

(like many other societies) chooses to compartmentalize itself according 

to racist-ethnic terms.

In order to illustrate to her pupils to what extent such division is, in fact, 

based on prejudice and ignorance, she made them experience a process of

re-socialization by means of a game of role reversal between privileged and 

inferior. In each of the experiment’s two days the pupils played different 

roles, learning first hand about the feelings of privileged versus 

underprivileged, experiencing the dehumanization generated by such a system.

The film documenting Elliott’s work (the exercise was subsequently developed 

for use with different groups, other than primary school children, and even

repeated with adults) proves that ethnic, or any other division which allows 

for oppression of the other, requires little time to produce social structures and

patterns. Ethnic and national divisions create affiliation groups based on 

physical or other relations of likeness, isolating or pushing aside groups 

which do not meet the parameters defining the group. This process is 

accompanied by either bestowal or denial of privileges and by domination via 

denial or erasure of the other’s rights.

In 2002 the Israeli government established the Immigration Administration, 

now better known as the “Oz Unit.” The Administration was allotted a

considerable budget, field units, and motor vehicles. Labor migrants 

call the unit “Fifty Two Fifty” since the Unit’s cars’ license plates 

always begin with 52 and end with 50. Uri Bar-On, director of 52/50

decided to focus on the violence perpetrated by the Oz Unit policemen 

during their operations to capture illegal labor migrants. 

For the production of the film Bar-On harnessed students from the Department 

of Film and Television at Tel Aviv University, and purchased several 

video cameras. He set up a call center to collect reports about police 

raids, and transfer the information to the film crews on site. Days

and nights Bar-On went with student teams to follow the activities of the 

Immigration Police. His film crews documented Oz Unit raids on apartments 

and mobile homes in which migrants live, as well as their arrests on 

the street. They documented the immigrants’ stories about the policemen’s 

violence towards them. The film shows, among other things, how the Immigration 

Police often detain foreign nationals and harasses them merely 

because of their foreign appearances. This was the case with a 

doctor in the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical 

Center who was arrested together with an Israeli who tried to protect her

from the violence of the Unit’s cops.

Apart from documentation of the Immigration Police violence, the film 

endeavors to examine whether the camera’s presence and students’ presence 

during the arrest of labor migrants will decrease the level of violence 

used by the Immigration Police during these arrests.

In Machssomim, Yoav Shamir follows soldiers serving in the Occupied 

Territories, entrusted with roadblock duty. As in the case of the Oz Unit, 

here too there is an encounter with a different community, and the 

soldier has the power to decide how the Palestinian’s day will begin or end. 

The film documents the encounter of Israeli soldiers posted at various 

checkpoints in the Occupied Territories with the Palestinian population 

wishing to pass through these crossings and roadblocks between the 

Palestinian Authority and Israel, and even between villages or towns within 

the Palestinian Authority. Observation of the film underscores the 

lack of clarity regarding the policy or position the soldiers are 

supposed to exercise toward civilian population. There seems to

be no clear instruction what is allowed and what is forbidden at the 

checkpoint, what language may be used, who is allowed to pass and why. 

The film presents the confusion of some of the soldiers who are given 

control over the lives of others, but do not know how to use that power. 

At the same time, it also presents those who take the responsibility 

given them too far, using it to exercise power and to humiliate those 

requiring the services of passage through the checkpoint.

In both films the photographed subjects are aware of the camera’s presence, 

yet we are not told whether this presence changed their behavior: whether

the Immigration cops exercised less power or whether the soldiers in the 

checkpoint exercised greater discretion during their shift. The exposure to an

Israeli camera is exposure to the Israeli public which largely supports the 

soldiers’ activity at the checkpoints or the activities of the Oz unit, 

hence it does not cause the photographed subjects inner conflict.

Rod Dickinson’s works progress along the axis between simulation and 

reconstruction, exploring ideas pertaining to belief and social control. 

The works present events which were supposed to take place, yet ultimately 

did not, or alternatively—events that have taken place. In the exhibition, 

Dickinson presents The Milgram Re-enactment 2002 (in collaboration with 

Graeme Edler and Steve Rushton) consisting of an installation reconstructing 

Stanley Milgram’s laboratory in detail, alongside a video reenacting the 

experiment with actors. The work offers viewers sensory confrontation by 

virtue of the physical presence in the laboratory, which calls to mind 

a return to a crime scene to study the evidence and experience them up close. 

By means of the reconstruction the artist generates a system of 

simulation as part of which the viewer can participate in the experience.

Milgram’s experiment is one of the most important and provocative ever to 

be carried out in the field of social psychology, and it is still studied. 

It was repeated once by Milgram himself, and several more times by 

psychologists and social psychology laboratories, each time altering 

one element of the experiment. In all cases the participants were told 

that the experiment was a memory and learning test. They did not know 

that they were taking part in an experiment about obedience. 

The subjects were ostensibly given the choice between the roles of 

teacher and learner; the latter was, in fact, an active partner to the 

experiment and was let in on the secret. The teacher (subject) sat in one 

room with the researcher; the latter wore a white smock

and observed from behind the teacher’s back. In front of the teacher 

was a box with multiple switches (an electric shock machine), with the 

voltage level marked above each switch. Even the marking of lethal 

high voltage did not stop the majority of the participants from continuing.

Some ten years after Milgram’s experiment, the Stanford Prison Experiment 

conceived by
Philip Zimbardo, Milgram’s classmate at the James Monroe High

School in the Bronx (class of 1950) was performed. The experiment studied 

the participants’ confrontation with prison reality. Several offices in the

basement of Stanford University’s Psychology building were cleared, and 

fitted with bars. Via a newspaper ad, male college students were recruited and

randomly divided into the roles of prisoners and guards. The former were 

“arrested” by the local police and led blindfolded and handcuffed to 

Zimbardo’s mock prison, where they were stripped naked, disinfected and 

dressed in prisoners’ uniform by the “guards.” The latter were given warden 

uniforms and full freedom to exercise authority. The experiment, which was 

supposed to continue for a fortnight, went out of hand on the second day, 

with the prisoners’ mutiny attempt, which was forcefully suppressed by 

the prison guards. 

It was terminated prematurely after six days, and was never reenacted 

scientifically on ethical grounds.

In his video Repetition, artist Artur Zmijewski reenacts and

Zimbardo’s prison experiment. Zmijewski placed an advertisement in the 

newspaper, offering readers to take part in an experiment for hourly pay. 

The experiment continued for seven days, and as with Zimbardo’s prison 

experiment, the participants were randomly selected to perform the roles 

of prisoners or guards. Zmijewski, like Zimbardo, took upon himself the 

role of superintendent of the temporary prison, wholly devoting himself to 

his self-assumed role. In Zmijewski’s work we evince the power relations 

constructedbetween prisoners

and guards within days. Unlike the original experiment, the prisoners and 

guards in this work choose to protest against the prison manager, collectively

deciding to end the experiment.

The reenactment used by Dickinson and Zmijewski may be construed as a staged, 

ritual modus operandi at work in many apparatuses. It is intended to

cleanse the collective conscience and heal the wounds. The reenactment 

has a symbolical theatrical dimension: taking an intricate, often emotional 

event, encoding it into an easily digestible product and providing local 

rationalization, a process which makes for an illusion of order. 

The reenactment dissociates the past from any sentiment in an attempt 

to rejuvenate reality which has crumbled at that point; therefore it 

occurs outside time, as it were.

Noam Gelbart’s animation piece Experiment 5.6.5/10 depicts an (imaginary) 

experiment in randomly selected subjects who were told that they were

selected due to their alleged superior qualities. The subjects were given 

a random set of laws and rules which they had to obey. In return, they were

told, they will feel a considerable improvement in their quality of life. 

The ostensibly arbitrary rule list was extracted from Jewish rabbinic law. 

In the third week of the experiment, one of the participants succeeds in 

exploiting the paradigm in his favor, thereby garnering status and power. 

He becomes a mentor and an educator capable of giving instruction on his own. 

From here the path is short to full and violent destruction of the experiment.

Milgram’s and Zimbardo’s experiments were preceded by Dr. D. Ewen Cameron’s 

CIA-funded experiment held in Canada between the late 1950s and the

mid-1960s, which set out to examine whether it is possible to blot out past 

behavioral patterns and reconstruct new ones in their place. In order to

eliminate existing behavioral conditioning, Dr. Cameron gave the subjects 

electric shocks far beyond the level allowed at the time. He drugged his 

patients with hallucinatory drugs and various stimulants, putting them in 

a state of unconsciousness which lasted many weeks. Simultaneously, he 

repeated to them instructions for new behavioral patterns. 

Cameron succeeded in eliminating his patients’ past behavioral habits, 

but he was never able to prove that the soul’s shattering and 

transformation into a blank slate (tabula rasa) could indeed facilitate 

construction of new patterning or healing of the patients who

came to him seeking help. An investigation of the American Senate 

revealed the existence of numerous such experiments exported from the 

United States to other countries, attesting to their faulty nature.

Cameron’s modi operandi are nowadays exercised throughout the world 

by people who are considered normative, following instructions from 

above under pretexts of scientific research, national security, 

and state of emergency, while releasing the individual performing 

them from personal liability. These modi operandi include isolation 

of the studied subject from contact with reality by means of sensory 

isolation, including white noise played incessantly, blindfolding

to outside images, covering the hands, and disruption of sleeping and 

eating patterns by detachment from the outside or from any other element that

preserves a temporal continuum.

The film Total Isolation (from the series “Horizon” produced by the BBC) 

documents an experiment conducted on several subjects, who volunteered to

suffer sensory deprivation for 48 hours. The subjects were given an identical 

cognitive test before and after the experiment. During the experiment they

experienced different levels of sensory deprivation, after which a decrease 

in their cognitive functio'ning was clearly registered.

The film The Human Behavior Experiment (director: Alex Gibney) links Milgram 

and Zimbardo’s experiments, addressing the mechanism producing blind

obedience or submission to power, events where systems of power are at work, 

which allow for domination of others’ lives, and the way in which this

power is exercised destructively when the system does not lay rules which 

clearly restrict the use of force or the domination of others. For example, 


soldiers posted at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, who abused 

prisoners suspected of various activities against the American military 


Interviews with these soldiers reveal that during their duty as prison 

guards, they thought they were optimally following the orders given them. 

Their own

photographs present abuse, humiliation, and torture suffered by the prisoners 

which call to mind the methods of Dr. Cameron and Zimbardo. Excluding one

interrogator, who documented and publicized what he saw at Abu Ghraib, the 

majority of soldiers blindly obeyed orders and never asked themselves

whether they were legal, and whether they can indeed be relieved of 

responsibility for the very prisoners for whom they were responsible. 

They did not

ask themselves whether their actions were abusive and humiliating, violating 

the other’s basic rights or humanity.

In Israeli Tamar Yarom’s film, To See 
if I’m Smiling, a harsh picture 

arises from the testimonies of six female ex-soldiers, who describe their 

intoxication with power and lack of differentiation between good and bad 

their military service, includinghaving their pictures taken with 

the bodies of Palestinian interogees who had been tortured. The film 

consists of a set of interviews with women who served in the Occupied 

Territories. Several years after their service they look back at 

their military past which haunts them, trying to confront the civilian 

reality in relation to the time they had served as soldiers.

The monologues of the film’s six protagonists indicate distress, suffering, 

and guilt feelings. It is incomprehensible how they could have been so easily

pulled into a world of wrongdoing and acts of violence perpetrated by 

soldiers against citizens and detainees; why they agreed to collaborate, 

to be a part of the system of silencing which kept the squadron’s secrets?

The delayed confession is perceived as akin to
assuming responsibility and 

confrontation with the past, especially since the exposure of the secret is 

public, and often involves pain and admission of guilt without a trial. 

The disclosure, in this case, is media exposure, demanding daily 

confrontation of the guilt.

Simultaneously, an act of transference takes place, whereby anyone who 

listens to the confession or admission assumes responsibility by virtue 

of the knowledge, absorbing part of it from the confessor.

Avi Mograbi’s film Z32 centers on an ex-soldier in an elite unit who 

participated in an act of revenge for the murder of six Israeli soldiers, 

an action in which two Palestinian policemen were murdered. 

He confesses and reconstructs the killing event for his life partner and 

the viewers. His testimony relates to his part in the murder and to the 

charged feelings that have burdened him since. In the film, the ex-soldier 

reconstructs the night of the event several times to his partner. 

In addition, he returns to the scene of the incident with Mograbi, 

and reenacts the revenge for him. Much like a murder reenactment which is

invalid as judicial evidence, yet serves as confession to a crime committed, 

albeit not judicial, in this case, too, the reconstruction and the repetition 

of the killing process combine personal with collective guilt, the desire 

for absolution with reconstruction of the power intoxication during the 

military revenge.

To us, viewers, the act of reconstruction serves as a type of catalyst for 

cleansing our consciences, through participation which does not require 

assuming responsibility.

Artist David Reeb’s video work, Ni’ilin 1.5.2009, begins with a tear gas 

canister fired into the yard of a house where the owners and political 

activists (“Anarchists against the Wall”) are present.3 

Directly thereafter, a group of Border Guard fighters climb to the 

roof of the house. The soldiers present no document authorizing them to 

penetrate the house, even when they are asked to do so. In order to scare 

off the activists, they throw tear gas at them and at the house owners 

from the roof. The roof serves the soldiers as an observation and firing 

post at demonstrators in the streets near the house.

When they climb off the roof and leave the family home, one of the 

commanders says to his subordinate who stands next to him: “We must detain 

them, and you don’t do that. You have to enter their homes at 2 AM 

and arrest them, before they ever come here.” Reeb documents this moment 

in the video in his painting Bougainvillea. He isolates the preliminary 

event by painting one frame from the video, featuring several soldiers 

marching on a dirt road, and next to them a flowering bougainvillea 

shrub sprawling beyond the yard of the house.

The presence of “Anarchists against the Wall” disturbs the soldiers’ work. 

The Anarchists refuse to take for granted the force exercised by the soldiers

and submit to it. They always demand to check whether each and every act 

taken by the soldiers—in this case, entry into the home of a Palestinian

citizen—was authorized. The Anarchists group exercises its civic power; it 

does not obey the code which determines that the physically strong is the

dominant. This introduces a nuisance or generates confrontation with the 

soldiers who must address their demand, which is opposed to the approach

of the majority of soldiers toward the Palestinians whom they regard as 

unequal; the Palestinians houses and property are perceived as territory 

subject to control, hence, they believe, the soldiers are not forced to 

obey civilian laws, at times not even the laws of the army.

Eyal Eithcowich, director of the film Enraged, follows the story of four 

members of the activist group “Anarchists against the Wall” through their 


The group’s activity has met with harsh oppression by the State. 

Hundreds of Palestinians and scores of Israelis and foreign nationals 

have been injured, and hundreds of arrests have led to dozens of indictments. 

Nevertheless, the group continues its activity, refusing to forgo the message 

of refusal to be enemies and the partnership in a popular struggle against 

the Occupation. The film depicts the group’s activity and the violence in 

the Occupied Territories; a horror vision in which soldiers, settlers, 

leftist activists, and local Arab citizens all take part. Eithcowich lets 

the images, which are often powerful and elusive (especially the depictions 

of confrontations during demonstrations), speak for themselves, rarely 


“Anarchists against the Wall” was established in 2003 with the intention 

of operating against the“Separation Wall” erected by Israel on Palestinian 

land in the West Bank. Since its inception, the group has worked in close 

collaboration with the Palestinians in a joint popular struggle against 

the Wall in the West Bank, the siege, and the attacks on Gaza specifically, 

and against the
Occupation in 
general. Over the
years, group members have 

participated in hundreds of demonstrations: whether in West Bank villages 

and towns organized by Palestinian local popular committees or in Israel 

proper intended to present the Occupation and its harm to the Israeli public, 

and to call upon the public to join in the struggle. 

“As Israelis we are well aware of the privileges granted us by the 

occupation regime, even when protesting against it. We can move 

relatively freely from place to place. The army and police forces are

more hesitant in exercising extreme violence against us, and the civil 

law system to which we are subordinated gives us basic rights which our 

Palestinian partners are denied, since they are subject to military law. 

Therefore, we have chosen to transform these privileges into tools of 

solidarity to the best of our ability. The joint demonstrations are not 

only a political message regarding the very feasibility of cooperation, 

but also a way to stand by our Palestinian partners.”4

In David Tartakover’s series of photographs, I Am Here, the artist digitally 

inserted his figure into various events and places. On his body he wears an

emergency services vest, yet Tartakover’s vest bears the word “Artist.” 

The images are press photographs from the Separation Wall in Abu Dis, from

Qalqilya, Ras Atiya, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Hebron, always drawn from 

incidents related to the Occupation. Hebron 180303 depicts an IDF soldier 

holding his weapon in the foreground. At another level of the photograph, 

the inscription “Are you Jewish? Yes=life No=death” may be read on the back 

of a T-shirt.

Tartakover’s figure is seen in the background, wearing his “Artist” vest, 

as if he were a witness to the photographed event not by virtue of his 

actually being there, but rather due to the fact that he inserts his 

figure into the photographed event. By positioning himself within various 

acts taking place around him, Tartakover assumes responsibility: he places 

himself as both an observer who does not look away from the occurrences 

and as a witness who brings to us his testimony, motivated by the 

knowledge that the freedom for individual opinion is not a right, but a duty. 

Disregard for personal responsibility does not release the individual 

from responsibility for the actions of the society in which he lives. 

All the members of the collective share in the responsibility, and

they all have the right to doubt and explore whether they want to be 

a part of it. Refusal to take responsibility for the actions of society 

and setting oneself apart from it forms an existential threat to that society. 

Disobedience (resistance), on the other hand, is an attempt to correct society, 

rather than to undermine it. The conscientious objector functio'ns as an 

agent of morality who operates for the sake of social change, since obedience 

contradicts his moral principles. The conscientious objector does not 

disregard the law, and the collective does not have to acknowledge his 

rightness. The duty is to acknowledge conscientious objection as 

part of honoring human dignity and freedom. Disobedience takes place 

vis-à-vis the leadership of society, when each individual is given the 

right to protest, via an act of objection, against instructions which 

contradict his personal moral values.

Leading an individual life in keeping with an independent moral agenda 

is utopian, and can fully occur only under laboratory conditions. 

Such individual existence is eliminated by the presence of others, 

and is based on the relationship with them. This system makes the individual 

suspend his ethics, his personal checks and balances, and to 

“assimilate” into the collective paradigm. It is an expression of 

the individual’s mental dependence on authority, manifested by his 

voluntary integration into a hierarchical system. In return the individual 

is granted relief stemming from the detachment from personal

liability by virtue of “belonging” to a collective. It is this belonging 

that lends the collective its power. The individual is the arbitrary 

signifier of the collective, and the functi'on of authority is to eliminate 

his personal characteristics (his personal imprint) so that he may serve 

as a pawn representing something beyond his personality; this act 

inevitably eliminates the significance of the other as well.

1. Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil 

(New York: Penguin, 1994), p. 252.

2. Another tactic of estrangement employed by the military establishment 

involves language. The assimilation of academic and philosophical terminology

in diluted, flattened form to generate alienation of the conflict and 

dehumanization of the other party, while keeping a well-reasoned and 

clean discourse.

For instance, the “cognitive burn” a la ex-Chief of Staff and present 

Minister, Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon, refers to war as a sterile territory 

where cognitions prompt action. Similar examples include the division 

of the population into “involved” and “non-involved” (for their definition 

as innocent or naïve citizens would inevitably render the soldiers, 

by definition, criminals), or expressions such as “scenario” and 

“leveraging” intended to alienate the other party in order to efface 

its existence. Such simplification of reality introduces a problem 

often dubbed “the human element.” Elimination of the other in the name of

some justice enables the perpetration of acts against him which would have 

been considered unbearable if applied to a “human being”.

3. The weekly encounters between soldiers and leftist activists have taken 

place for several years in Bil’in, and recently also in Ni’ilin, and they 

carry the nature of a ritual. The encounter takes place every Friday, 

around noon, usually after the noon prayer in the village mosque. 

The soldiers, village inhabitants (Bil’in or Ni’ilin), and activists 

report every Friday in unbalanced forces, for a chronicle foretold.

4. From the group’s

Hebrew website: http://www.awalls.org/hebrew











Previous conference


Civil Disobedience
Conference #2 in the framework of "Evil to the Core"
Tuesday, December 8 at 8:00pm
At the Israeli Center for Digital Art, 16 Yirmiyahu Street, Holon

This conference is the second of three conferences accompanying the 

exhibition "Evil to the Core." The exhibition and conferences seek to 

discuss issues concerning obedience to authority, conformism, individual 

and social responsibility, non-compliance, and nonconformism in general, 

and in Israeli society in particular.

Civil disobedience, unlike criminal disobedience, does not lead to anarchy, 

but moral and conscientious action. Therefore, while the state can suppress

criminal disobedience, it should restrain against suppressing civil 

disobedience.  The right to non-compliance is a natural right related 

to self-respect. 

With this, the limit of civil disobedience is its use of violence – once it 

breaks out, it is transformed into criminal disobedience.  Another possible 

distinction is between offensive and defensive non-compliance; the first 

is done against laws whose violation expresses protest and insurrection 

against the state, the second involuntarily against laws that impair 

human  dignity. In any case the restriction of violence is key and is 

what lends legitimation to civil disobedience.

The conference will address the boundaries of non-compliance and obedience 

in the local context of Israel precisely in a period in which this question

becomes relevant in light of a new phenomenon of military disobedience.  

These phenomena, from the right side of the political map, recently made

headlines and raised questions about the place of the individual and the 

military in a democratic society. Despite the phenomenon of refusal on the 

left as well, it has never managed to produce such resonance. Against this 

backdrop, the conference will discuss civil disobedience and insubordination.

Brief information about the speakers and their lecture topics:

Prof. Uri Hadar – Insubordination and Mental Health
Prof. Uri Hadar will describe how refuseniks are being released on the basis 

of psychological maladjustment. A professor of Psychology at Tel Aviv 

University, a member of the parents’ forum of refuseniks, active in the 

organisation "Psycho-active. Mental Health Professionals for Human Rights ", 

Prof. Uri Hadar also teaches a course on the psychology of occupation.

David Reeb – Art Making as an Act of Civil Disobedience
The artist, David Reeb, Dizengoff Prize winner, is featured in the 

current show and has been painting Israeli scenes based on media images 

for three decades.

Haggai Matar – The Refusnik Trial
Hagai Matar is one of the five refuseniks who refused to join the IDF and 

were put on trial in 2003. He and the four others were convicted and sentenced 

to imprisonment for up to 23 months.

Dr. Gadi Rosenberg –  Universal and Particular Principles as the Basis for 

Avoiding Army Reserve Duty
Dr. Rosenberg’s research distinguishes between personal objections (defectors) 

and ideological opponents from the right and left.

Moderator: Galit Eilat

Free entrance with advanced booking – 03-5568792.
It is recommended to arrive early to see the exhibition.

The exhibition is a collaboration with the 

Association for Civil Rights in Israel and their Program for International 

Humanitarian Law.

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