Tair Kaminer, Israeli Conscientious Objector: Statement
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 will to make my 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 in the heart of the conflict, and went through difficult experiences from a young age, experiences that in many of them, have formed great hate, I 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 continuance of this trauma and pain. And I say: Enough!
For year now there’s no horizon for a political peace process, there’s no attempt to bring peace to Gaza or Sderot. But as long as the violent military way continues, we are creating 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 the injustice that is done again the Palestinian people under this occupation. In will not take part in the cycle of hate in Gaza and Sderot.
My draft date was set for January 10th, 2016. On this 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, although 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 antidemocratic act.
I have been told that I am avoiding my responsibility for the security of the state of Israel. But as a women who sees all people as equal, and their lives 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 protest Jews, because one cannot create security in an occupation. True security will be created only when the Palestinian people will live in freedom and dignity in an independent state alongside Israel.
There were those who worried about my personal future in a state in which military service holds so much importance. They suggested I serve regardless of my opinions, or at least not refuse publically. But through all the difficulties and worries, I chose to refuse publically. This state, this country, 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 wish my refusal, even if I pay a personal price for it, will help to surface the occupation to the Israeli public discourse, because so many Israelis don’t feel the occupation and forget it in our lives, that are so safe relatively 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. 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 will 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.
We, the young people, must understand the meanings of this decision in depth. We need to understand its consequences on our society. After I did so, my decision is to refuse. Military prison scares me much less than our society losing its humanity.