TOKYO: Dani Nehushtai, a former soldier in the Israeli Air Force, became a conscientious objector and now devotes his life to pacifism in Japan, teaching people the reality of the situation in Israel and the region.
As Gaza suffers daily bombings by Israel, Nehushtai, who wanted to become a pilot, spoke in the Nerima district of Tokyo on Sunday under the banner “Peace Cannot Be Obtained Through Force.”
He spoke about his relationship with the army and his commitment to becoming a “Top Gun” pilot, but he realized that, as a military man, he would have no choice if ordered to bomb buildings with families in them. So, he gave up becoming a pilot in the Air Force.
Now he is a peace activist and a craftsman manufacturing wooden furniture in Saitama, just north of Tokyo.
He also writes books in Japanese on his pacifist and environmentalist commitments and since 2008 has given lectures, following the bombing by Israel of a building and tunnel complex run by Hamas.
It is estimated around 1,300 civilians and soldiers died in the operation.
After the International Court of Justice condemned Israel on Friday for risking genocide against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the former military man welcomed the decision and denounced the massacre of 26,000 Palestinians, including nearly 10,000 children. He said none of this was justified, despite the attack by Hamas that killed 1,200 Israelis on October 7.
Concerning the international anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, he told Arab News that Israelis are not particularly interested in this day and that other anniversaries exist to celebrate the memory of the Holocaust.
Nehushtai condemned the Hamas massacre and told his audience that the Palestinians wanted their land and their freedom. He added that the families of the Israeli hostages held by Hamas wanted the release of their loved ones, but the Israeli government believed that destroying Hamas through a massive bombing campaign was the more important target.
For him, the renunciation of war is possible. As proof, he cited the agreements signed at Camp David between Egyptian President Anwar el Sadat, Israeli Prime Minister Menahem Begin and American President Jimmy Carter that enabled the 1978 peace agreements stipulating the withdrawal from the Occupied Territories.
The three leaders received the Nobel Peace Prize and Nehushtai said the Camp David Agreement means there is hope that peace is possible even with former fratricidal enemies.
The activist, who experienced Gaza without a wall and without a security barrier in his youth, said that there used to be Israeli-Palestinian friendship movements, but they were suppressed by the Israeli government. After the attack on October 7, the peace movements, and buds of friendship between Jews and Palestinians were weakened.
The recognition of Dani Nehushtai’s action for peace was welcomed by several Japanese politicians from different political parties who are committed to the defense of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution that renounces war.


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