Ralph Bieber Proud of Soldier Son Avi's Refusal

Yaakov Katz and JPost Staff - The Jerusalem Post - June 26, 2005

The IDF legal staff will decide how Avi Bieber, a soldier who refused to carry out orders to evacuate a settler stronghold, will be judged.

Bieber has requested to be judged in a military court and not to be disciplined by his commanding officer, Israel Radio reported.

"I am proud that he was able to stand up and say what he feels," declared Ralph Bieber - father of IDF soldier Avi Bieber, who refused his military orders during the demolition of a row of abandoned homes in Gush Katif on Sunday.

"We have been getting phone calls from people who are proud of what he did and that he was able to say what he feels," Bieber told The Jerusalem Post late Sunday night.

The Bieber family moved to Israel from New Jersey nine years ago and, following two years in Efrat, moved to the nearby settlement of Tekoa. Ralph, an insurance broker, said he spoke at length with Avi, 19, about what he would do the day the army called on him to participate in the disengagement.

"He discussed this with me and I said to him 'I can't tell you what to feel. You should do what is in your heart," Bieber recalled Sunday night.

On Sunday, Bieber said, in the middle of the violent clashes with the settlers, he received a phone call from his son.

"He saw his officers beating up other Jews," Bieber recalled. "He never saw anything like this, Jews beating other Jews. He called me in the middle and said 'Abba [father], what should I do?' He said: 'Jews are beating. Jews are beating Jews.' I said go to your commanders and that is what he did."

Bieber said his son tried speaking with his superior officers last week but was turned away and told to come back in a month.

"He tried talking to his commander and he blew him off," Bieber said."Avi insisted to try and reach a solution and he tried talking to the commander and now this happens."

Bieber's wife Michelle said that while she was concerned about her son "as a mother," she was deeply proud of him.

"We spoke to him, and he is relaxing where they are holding him, and he has a lot of support," Michelle said. "As a mother, I am concerned but I know that he did the right thing."

In a related story, Air Force officials confirmed Sunday that a staff sergeant was thrown out of the military for refusing to participate in training for the evacuation of Jewish settlements.

The serviceman is believed to have been the first from the ranks of the air force that openly refused to be part of the evacuation, air force officials said. The soldier reportedly was a technician serving at the Palmachim air base and had been slated to be assigned to the forces the air force was contributing to the evacuation of Jewish settlers from Gush Katif.

Channel One reported Sunday that the IDF's chief rabbi, Brig.-Gen. Yisrael Weiss, is expected to issue a Psak Halacha (a Jewish legal ruling) this week calling on all soldiers not to refuse orders to evacuate settlements in the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria.

Five leading rabbis, including Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, reportedly support Weiss' call.

It appears that Weiss intends to counter those rabbis who are calling on soldiers to refuse orders, including former Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu.

Arieh O'Sullivan contributed to this report.

  • See Also: Jonathan Pollard Urges Support of Soldier who Refused to Beat Jews