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Dozens protest in support of Israeli conscientious objector

Tair Kaminer is expected to be sentenced to a month in military jail for refusing to enlist in the IDF. Kaminer: ‘Military jail frightens me less than our society losing its humanity.’

Conscientious objector Tair Kaminer is greeted by supporters outside the Tel Hashomer induction base, Ramat Gan, Israel, January 10, 2016. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Conscientious objector Tair Kaminer is greeted by supporters outside the Tel Hashomer induction base, Ramat Gan, Israel, January 10, 2016. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Approximately 40 demonstrators accompanied Israeli conscientious objector Tair Kaminer to the Tel Hashomer induction base on Sunday, where she is expected to be sentenced for her refusal to enlist in the Israeli army.

The demonstrators held signs chanted against the occupation at the entrance to the base. Some of them organized a short performance, in which they wore IDF uniforms and pledged their loyalty to the state while their their eyes, ears, and mouths were covered.

Kaminer, 19, recently finished a year of national service with the Israeli Scouts (“Tzofim”) in the southern development town of Sderot. There she volunteered with children who suffer from trauma due to multiple wars in Gaza and continual rocket fire on the city. “The children I worked with grew up in the heart of the conflict and have had extremely difficult experiences from a young age, experiences that caused them to feel hatred, which can be understood, especially when it comes from young children,” Kaminer wrote in a statement several days ago.

“Like them, many children who grow up in Gaza or in the West Bank, in an even more difficult environment, learn to hate the other side,” she continues. “They, too, cannot be blamed. When I look at all of these children, and the next generation on both sides and the reality in which they grow up, I see only more trauma and pain. And I say enough! That is why I refuse: so that I do not take an active part in the occupation of the Palestinian territories and the injustices that the Palestinian people face under occupation, so that I do not take part in this circle of hate in Gaza and Sderot.”

Demonstrators organize a performance in support of Tair Kaminer, a 19-year-old Israeli conscientious objector, at the Tel Hashomer induction base, Ramat Gan, Israel, January 10, 2016. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Demonstrators organize a performance in support of Tair Kaminer, a 19-year-old Israeli conscientious objector, at the Tel Hashomer induction base, Ramat Gan, Israel, January 10, 2016. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Kaminer also writes that she aspires to peace, equality, democracy, and security for all people who live in Israel/Palestine, emphasizing the security of those whose security tends to be forgotten — Palestinians and Israeli residents of the western Negev Desert. “They convince us that the army has nothing to do with politics, but serving in the army is a political decision. Military jail frightens me less than our society losing its humanity.”

The protest, which was organized by a new group called “Mesarvot” (“Refusers” in Hebrew), included anti-occupation activists, Druze conscientious objectors, anarchists, communists, and others. Participants also included members of the Kaminer family, including Tair’s cousin, Matan Kaminer, who served two years in military prison for his refusal to enlist 13 years ago (full disclosure: I served in prison alongside Matan and a number of other friends for refusing to enlist in the military. Matan and I remain friends until this day).

Kaminer is expected to be sentenced to a month in military jail. (Update, 10 p.m.: Kaminer was sentenced to 20 days.) She will then be released and return to the induction base where she will be required to enlist once again. Should she refuse, she will be sentenced to another month in jail. This process repeats itself ad nauseam until the army decides to officially discharge her. Over the past few years, a number of conscientious objectors have been sentenced up to 10 times in this vicious cycle.

This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here

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    1. Joe Yagchi

      Thank you Tair Kaminer. As a Palestinian, I can only admire you and be grateful to your action.

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