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Israeli conscientious objectors sent to military prison for second time

The two young women already spent seven days in prison for refusing to take part in the occupation.

Tamar Alon and Tamar Ze’evi stand outside the IDF’s Tel Hashomer induction base where they were expected to declare their refusal to serve in the army, and be sentenced to prison, Tel Aviv, November 16, 2016. (Haggai Matar)

Tamar Alon and Tamar Ze’evi stand outside the IDF’s Tel Hashomer induction base where they declared their refusal to serve in the army, Tel Aviv, November 16, 2016. (Haggai Matar)

An IDF tribunal sentenced two Israeli conscientious objectors, Tamar Alon and Tamar Ze’evi, to 10 days in military prison on Monday for refusing to serve in the Israeli occupation.

Two weeks ago, the young women declared their conscientious objection at the Israeli army’s Tel Hashomer induction base, saying that they refuse to take part in the oppression of the Palestinian people. They were sentenced to seven days in military prison at the time.

At the end of their current prison stint, the two will be released for the weekend, after which they will be required to once again present themselves at the induction base.

They will then likely declare their refusal once again, and be handed a third prison sentence, a cycle that can repeat itself for months on end.

Israeli law allows for conscientious objection, but in practice it is only ever accepted on grounds of pacifism, not for political reasons, a category in which the IDF includes opposing the occupation.

Tamar Ze’evi and Tamar Alon are both asking to perform an alternative civilian national service instead of military service.

“From a young age I met my parents’ Palestinian friends — I met people who are supposed to be my enemies who smiled at me, played with me, and spoke with me,” wrote Tamar Alon in a declaration ahead of her refusal.

“I can’t accept the claim that the oppression of another people, the denial of basic human rights, and racism and hate are necessary for the existence of State of Israel,” she continued.

Tamar Ze’evi, in her refusal statement, wrote: “On the one hand, it’s my legal and societal obligation, which I always intended and expected to fulfill — the right to safeguard the security of my home and the people most dear to me.”

“But on the other hand,” she continued, “is a childhood in the shadow of terror attacks and wars real security? What about the security of those human beings on the other side of the walls? Am I, as a daughter of the people controlling the another people, responsible for their well-being? Where is the line where we stop collaborating, have we already crossed it?”

“I am not willing to lend a hand to a situation in which two peoples are living in fear of each other, and are paying such a heavy price for dozens of years,” Ze’evi added. “Out of love for this land and the human beings who live in it, I want to believe, and I do believe that there is a different path and that we can effect change.”

Earlier this year another conscientious objector, Tair Kaminer, spent five months in military prison, the longest sentence ever for a female refuser.

Dozens of Israeli jurists ultimately petitioned the army to release Kaminer, argying that there is no reason to imprison someone who believes military service goes against his or her core moral beliefs, and that Kaminer’s refusal to enlist is an expression of “freedom of consciousness.”

A version of this article also appears in Hebrew on Local Call.

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    1. R5

      Two…out of how many? I’m surprised more youngsters aren’t cashing in on the EU’s anti-Zionist generosity. I’m sure there’s a budget for a least several dozen Israeli youths to travel the world, Jew-washing boycotts of filmmakers and anthropology professors.

      Reply to Comment
      • Carmen

        “I’m sure there’s a budget for a least several dozen Israeli youths to travel the world, Jew-washing boycotts of filmmakers and anthropology professors.”

        Really? Can you back that up with anything resembling facts?

        Reply to Comment
        • R5

          It’s called joking.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            A striking thing about this “joke” about “Jew-washing” is that the vast majority of “Jew-washing” occurs in the opposite direction: liberal western diaspora Jews who are progressive except on Israel, progressive except on Palestine, who make all sorts of excuses and reassurances (and threats)—one of the more egregious examples would be Alan Dershowitz—using their self-styled ‘expert’ and ‘inside’ status to exonerate Israel.

            Reply to Comment
          • R5

            The joke was about EU funding, not the term “Jew-washing.” Do you really think readers can’t see that? Also, nobody’s reading your comments because too long.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Well, actually, the two concepts are inextricably intertwined in that lovely sneer, I mean, joke of yours. I mean, if the “youngsters” can’t “Jew-wash,” then on what basis are they going to “cash in”? What self-respecting EU anti-Zionist pays for Jew-washing without getting product? I ask you. But gosh you’re sensitive. I didn’t know. I didn’t mean to not show appreciation for your terrific humor. But now if you find a whole paragraph taxes your attention span that’s ok, I understand, but it’s not my responsibility.

            Reply to Comment
    2. Change will come, and these two women are among the pioneers leading the way. It won’t happen overnight, but time is on their side.

      Reply to Comment
      • R5

        Not sure how time is on their side when the more religious and more nationalistic demographics in Israel are growing, and secular society is shrinking. And Arab population growth has now dropped to parity with Jewish growth. More likely, these folks will have children who leave the country and assimilate in Europe or America, having no impact on the policies of the State of Israel. Which is sad.

        Reply to Comment