Tair Kaminer, a 19-year Israeli, got a call up order – requesting her to show up at the Israeli Army Induction Center (“Bakum”) in Tel Hashomer, east of Tel Aviv, at 12 pm, today (Sunday, January 10). She intends to show up at the stipulated time and place –
but not in order to embark on the two years of obligatory military service required of girls under Israeli law. Instead, she will inform the recruiting officers of her refusal to become part of an army of occupation and oppression – whereupon, most likely, she will be sent to military prison, Friends and supporters will accompany Kaminer to the gates of the Induction Center at 12pm on Sunday, and hold a solidarity vigil on the spot.
In recent months, there have been several reports in the Israeli media of IDF female soldiers standing at roadblocks throughout the occupied West Bank and taking part in late night raids on Palestinian villages, culminating with entering Palestinian homes and taking “suspected Palestinians” off to interrogation by Israel’s Security Service. On several occasions girl soldiers have been commended for their part in shooting and killing Palestinians who were deemed terrorists. The reports of military correspondents in the mainstream media tend to present such girl soldiers as positive role models, examples of “gender equality” and “female empowerment.”
Tair Kaminer, along with her fellow activists of the “Mesarvot” (“Refusers|) group, rejects out of hand such forms of “equality” and “empowerment” – the possibility generously offered to young Israeli women to join with their male counterparts in an army of occupation and take their “equal” share in the task of daily oppressing Palestinian men and women. Following is the text of the public statement which Tair Kaminer intends to present a copy of to the recruiting officers:
“My name is Tair Kaminer, I am 19. A few months ago I finished a year of volunteering with the Israeli scouts in Sderot. In a few days, I will be going to jail. An entire year I volunteered in Sderot, working with children living in a war zone, and there I decided to refuse to serve in the Israeli military. My refusal comes from my desire to make a contribution to my society, and make this a better place, and is part of an ongoing struggle for peace and equality.
“The children I worked with grew up in the heart of the conflict, and have gone through difficult experiences from a young age, experiences that have formed great hate in many of them, a hate one can understand, especially in young children. Like them, many of the children living in the Gaza strip and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories, in an even more difficult reality, learn to hate the other side. They too cannot be blamed. When I look at all these children together, at the next generation of both sides and the reality in which they live, I see the continuation of this trauma and pain. And I say: Enough!
“For year now there’s been no horizon for a political peace process, there’s been no attempt to bring peace to Gaza or Sderot. But as long as the violent military way continues, we are creating a generation of hate that will only make things worse. We must stop this now. This is why I am refusing: I will not take an active part in the occupation of the Palestinian territories and in the injustice that is continually being done against the Palestinian people under this occupation. I will not take part in the cycle of hate in Gaza and Sderot.
“My induction date has been set for January 10, 2016. On that day I will report to the Tel Hashomer induction base and declare my refusal to serve in the military, and my willingness to do alternative civil service.
“In conversation with loved ones I’ve been accused of harming the democracy in not obeying state laws. But the Palestinians in the occupied territories live under the rule of the Israeli government, even though they did not elect it. I believe that as long as Israel will continue to be an occupying country, it will continue to distance itself from democracy. And so my refusal is part of the struggle for democracy, and not an anti-democratic act.
I have been told that I am avoiding my responsibility for the security of the state of Israel. But as a woman who sees all people as equal, and their lives as being equally important, I cannot accept the security argument as long as it only really applies to Jews. Especially now, as the wave or terror continues, it is clear that the military does not even entirely protect Jews, because one cannot create true security in an occupation. True security will only be created when the Palestinian people will live in freedom and dignity in an independent state alongside Israel. There were those who worry about my personal future in a state in which military service holds so much importance. They suggested that I serve regardless of my beliefs, or at least that I don’t refuse publicly. But despite all the difficulties and concerns, I have chosen to refuse publicly. This state, this country, and this society are too important to me to agree to be silent. I was not raised to care only for myself. My life until now has been about giving and social responsibility.
“I hope that my refusal, even if I pay a personal price for it, will help to further raise the occupation in the Israeli public discourse, because so many Israelis don’t feel the occupation and forget it in their daily lives, that are so safe relative to those of Palestinians, or even the Israelis who live in the Western Negev (near Gaza).
We are told that there is no other way other than the violent military way. But I believe that this is the most destructive way, and that there are others. I wish to remind us all that there is an alternative: negotiation, peace, optimism, a true desire to live in equality, safety and freedom. We are told that the military is not political, but serving in the military is a political decision with great significance, exactly like refusal is.
“We young people must understand the meaning of this decision in depth. We need to understand its consequences on our society. After I did so, my decision became to refuse. Military prison scares me much less than our society losing its humanity.”