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.