Subscribe to SIAWI content updates by Email
Home > impact on women / resistance > Israel: Conscientious Objector Tair Kaminer - "Our girl in (...)

Israel: Conscientious Objector Tair Kaminer - "Our girl in prison"

Wednesday 29 June 2016, by siawi3

Source: Yedioth Ahronot, 24.6.16

Our Girl

by Sima Kadmon,
Yedioth Ahronot (Yedioth Ahronot is the largest mass circulation newspaper in Israel)


This last Sunday, Tair Kaminer, aged 19, stood before the commander of the Induction Center, Col. Aran Shani and was sentenced for the sixth time for her refusal to join the IDF for reasons of conscience. She was sentenced to an additional 45 days in prison and reached an accumulated period of imprisonment of 170 days.

Col. Shani told Kaminer that she is indeed brave and intelligent, but she was being tried for her refusing induction and not because of her opinions and it will cost her dearly. He also emphasized that, if it was not clear to her, that the army was stronger than her.

It should be stressed that the IDF allows most of those required to enlist, more than 50% of each yearly call up, to evade induction or to receive early release. The reasons are numerous and varied. Health causes, marriage or pregnancy, economic problems at home, psychological stress. Another reason is exemption for religious or conscientious causes.

There is no doubt the commander of the Induction Center, Col. Aran Shani, knows what religion is’ but it is not certain that he knows what conscience means.

This is what Kaminer wrote to the Conscience Committee, which is to meet by the end of the month to discuss her case.

"I was born and grew up in Israel, I studied high school at the School of Arts, I was a member and then a group leader in the Scouts Youth Movement in Tel Aviv and ten months ago I completed a year of voluntary service with the Scouts in Sderoth. Since January 10, 2016 I have been repeatedly jailed again and again in military prison for my refusal to serve in the army despite my request to do alternative civilian volunteer work.

Since I was a child I heard of many events linked to the army, to its rule over the Palestinian population, its role in the defense of the settlements, about rights denied to many citizens in the region. In my home I was educated towards critical thinking and not to accept things without question but I was never pressured in regards to any decision to serve or not to serve in the army.”

Kaminer detailed formative stark events such as a demonstration for peace and equality at a Palestinian village when she was 9 years old, when the IDF broke up the demo with smoke grenades. Or, the change she experienced after a year of volunteer work in Sderoth, when she decided not to serve in the army.”The youngsters with whom I worked, writes Kaminer, “grew up in the heart of the conflict and suffered from traumas from a young age, which were formative and engendered hatred (understandable) just like similar experiences of those in Gaza or in the territories. I am not able to participate actively in preserving the status quo. That is activity opposed to my conscience…I understood that I would not be able to live with myself if I knew that I collaborated and kept silent in the face of everything going on in my country…sadly what is considered security is security only for Jews. Moreover, the atmosphere today in Israel permits bloodletting for all those who are not Jews…As long as the government of Israel, protected by the army continues to occupy and oppress the Palestinian people, will continue to deny its basic right of the people for freedom and self –determination, I am unable to serve in such an army which acts so sharply against my convictions.

Since so many supported the shooter soldier from Hebron, Eluor Azria, and have named him “our boy,” I permit myself to call Tair Kaminer “our girl.”

A girl who opposes the occupation, who requests release on conscientious grounds and is unwilling to declare that she is orthodox, or to enter a fictitious marriage, or go to see the Officer for Psychological Stress, or to find a way to serve in the IDF magazine, or the IDF radio station, or in the IDF spokeperson’s office or in the military Rabbinate.

What she is unwilling to do is to try and be a celebrity, or an outstanding athlete, or act as many MK’s – pillars of society and even ministers and party leaders have done. She stubbornly demands release on conscientious grounds from an army that seems to have forgotten long ago what a conscience is.

The shooting soldier from Hebron did not spend a single day in prison, and it is doubtful that he ever will. The battalion commander who shot a fleeing boy in the back after he threw a stone was never put on trial. An administrative check, not judicial, exempted him from punishment. Ultra-orthodox men refuse even to appear in the Induction Center to receive a discharge hang out in the streets, undisturbed. But Kaminer, our girl is in jail.

Tair’s mother, Sybil Goldfeiner, told me this week that her daughter didn’t want to declare herself a pacifist, because she is not. Most of the people just lie, said Goldfeiner, and Tair didn’t want to lie. She did a year of volunteering and she wants to do national service. But the army fights against my moral daughter, who wants to contribute. A real enemy of Israel.

Kaminer is in Prison 6. She can speak on the phone for seven minutes a day. She can receive visitors for half an hour, once every two weeks. She writes a diary in prison and gives it to her mom on paper. Goldfeiner types it and posts it as a blog.

She could have done so much if she did national service, says Goldfeiner. As a leader in the Dizengoff Scout Club she organized sending 800 kids to summer camp. In Sderot she led the whole Scout youth group for the year.

But what her mother sees, the IDF doesn’t. And the commander of the induction base and his officers are going to continue to use force against Kaminer until she gives up. Maybe to prove to other conscientious objectors how things stand (Omri Baranes, who already served 37 days was also sentenced for the third time now).

Apparently, the army fears, that with the many who lie and are released each year, the number of conscientious objectors will double and maybe even reach the number of six, and what will we do then. They are determined to prove, as if there is doubt, that the army is stronger than her. But there is a doubt. Apparently there is a young woman who is stronger than them.

For sure smarter.