Tair Kaminer: Another Letter from Military Prison 6, Plt. 600, Cell 6

In jail there are lots of hours of inactivity.  I’m already here for 85 days and it’s really, really hard. We sit in the cell for a “reading minute” – but don’t be confused, it is not free time for reading a book, but a period of time in which the staff can call us at any minute.  We’re not permitted to get off the bunk, to take anything from civilian life out of our duffle bags, to make noise, lie down on the bed, put our feet on the bed, violate the rules of proper contact (it’s forbidden for more than one person to sit on the same bed, to touch each other’s hair, to hug, to hold hands…) etc.

Demonstration in solidarity with Tair Kaminer in front of the Israeli Embassy in Athens

Demonstration in solidarity with Tair Kaminer in front of the Israeli Embassy in Athens (Photo: WRI)

The officers remember to stress many times during the day what we are allowed to do: sit, talk, eat, read a book and watch television; yes, we have television in the cells. The TV is on all the time, everywhere in the prison for men and women (most of the time it’s football or reality shows).

For me “reading time” is devoted to reading. That’s my escape. The women here say that I’m a bookworm. I have learned how to escape into the book I’m reading, sink into the story, the characters, and for a moment I’m even able to forget that I am in jail; that I’m in Cell 6, Platoon 600, Prison 6.

One day they took us to work in Ajami – the workshop in the jail. The workshop is named for Ajami, a Druze guy who runs the unit. This is supposed to be some sort of prize for prisoners because it keeps you busy and you can get an additional cigarette. You can hear some music there. The women who work in Ajami remove buttons and the rank insignias from old uniforms and sort them according to color and size

Many of the women enjoy the work but I don’t smoke and it deprives me of the only time in jail when I succeed in forgetting that I am in prison. Instead I have to sort buttons which, in many ways is worse than being in jail. This dull repetitive work just like the usual stuff in jail; just like the periods of imprisonment which repeat themselves again and again and have become routine.

The truth is that it wasn’t an easy day. And on days like this I have to repeatedly remind myself what I am doing. I could easily ask to see the psychologist to get out of here. But I cannot forget what I know: this army does not defend me, but stokes the fire of violence and thus creates even less security; that it rules over millions of Palestinian civilians and it’s in no way moral, as we were taught all our lives. I remember that my refusal, time after time in the induction center and my declaration that I am not willing to enlist precisely because this is an army of occupation, means that I’m not only sentencing myself again and again to remain in jail; buy every time that I refuse I present an alternative to the path of hatred and wars and I inspire young people of my age to examine their actions and not to act without thinking.

The same day that I returned from Ajami I was called for a talk with the Rabbanit. The Rabbanit comes to jail three times a week and passes out candies and the women can have a personal talk with her and hear a lesson from the Torah. Most of the women are traditional and this strengthens them in more ways than one. I participate in all of her lessons even though it is not obligatory.  I do so in order to fully experience prison life with the others.

In the other prison, Number Four, Torah lessons were obligatory and the Rabbis preached to us to become religious. They even tried to convince us to marry through a sheduch [arranged marriage]. Lilach, the volunteer Rabbanit here in Prison 6, is of course part of the same apparatus, but she is motivated by care for the women in jail, to help them to find the strength to be here and not lose hope.

In this lesson she told us about the exodus from Egypt and the sin of worshipping the Golden Calf. She told us about Hor who stood against 3,000 Israelites and opposed the creation of the Golden Calf, and fought all of them.  He was overcome by sword and they killed him, but his struggle succeeded and the people of Israel returned to the righteous path. This lesson really strengthened me. I felt that we, the movement for refusal, the opponents of the occupation, are like Hor. Perhaps today we are only a minority opposing the angry majority, but our struggle will succeed and one day the occupation will be over.

Tair Kaminer

Tair Kaminer, a 19-year Israeli from Tel-Aviv, received call up orders requesting her to report to the Israeli Army Induction Center (“Bakum”) in Tel Hashomer, east of Tel Aviv, on January 10, 2016. From then she has been imprisoned for refusing to serve in the army of occupation. Tomorrow (Saturday) a demonstration in solidarity with her will be held near Military Prison 6.


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