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Israel: Dozens of Senior Legal Experts In An Urgent Appeal to the Chief Military Advocate
“Tair Kaminer’s imprisonment is an unacceptable policy”
Dozens of lecturers from the academic and clinical faculties of Israeli law schools sent an urgent letter on Friday, July 1, 2016, to the chief military advocate, in which they argued that Tair Kaminer’s imprisonment of 170 cumulative days is not proportionate. The letter was sent immediately following Kaminer’s meeting with the IDF Conscience Committee, in pursuit of her request to receive an exemption to regular army service on the grounds of being a conscientious objector and to do alternative civil service, and in anticipation of a decision in her case.
In their letter, the legal experts wrote: “An individual’s refusal to serve in the IDF, because s/he believes that serving in the army would force him/her to act in such a way that would deeply compromise his/her basic concepts of morality, is the realization of a person’s right to the freedom to follow their own conscience. Punishing this person damages this basic right, and is permissible only if this punishment meets the criteria of proportionality. There is a distinction between refusal to serve in the IDF because one’s definition of morality opposes all use of force (pacifism), and refusing because one’s moral stance prevents one from serving because of a certain government policy. This can be expressed as refusal to serve, and is differentiated from the mere recognition that one has the right to the freedom to follow their own conscience..... In this light, we are of the opinion that the case of Tair Kaminer is an example of an inappropriate policy.”
39 professors from Israel’s law schools have signed the letter: Prof. Yuval Elbashan, Prof. David Enoch, Prof. Michael Birnhack, Prof. Yishai Blanc, Prof. Orna Ben Naftali,
Dr. Hemda Gur-Aryeh, Prof. Haim Ganz, Prof. Eyal Gross, Prof. Yossi Dahan, Prof. Guy Davidov, Prof. Moshe Hirsch, Prof. Dafna Hecker, Prof. Guy Harpaz, Dr. Sharon Vintal,
Prof. Yonatan Yuval, Prof. Barak Medina, Dr. Hili Modrik Even-Chen, Dr. Ofri Malachai, Prof. Yuval Merin, Dr. Ilan Saban, Dr. Hillel Somer, Dr. Ofer Sitbohn, Prof. Boaz Sangero, Dr. Meital Pinto, Prof. Uriel Procaccia, Adv. Nadya Zimmerman, Dr. Sandy Kedar, Prof. Rinat Kitai Sangero, Adv. Tami Katzbian, Prof. Roi Kreitner, Dr. Tali Kritzman Amir, Prof. Mota Kremnitzer, Dr. Shiri Regev-Messalem, Prof. Issi Rosen-Zvi,
Adv. Heren Reichman, Adv. Shiran Reichenberg, Dr. Ram Segev, Prof. Gila Stopler,
Prof. Yuval Shany.
This past January, Tair Kaminer, 19, from Tel Aviv, refused to enlist in the army as long as it is an occupying force and oppressing the Palestinian people, and she is currently serving her sixth prison sentence, at the end of which she will have served 170 cumulative days in prison. This is the longest any female Israeli conscientious objector has ever served.
In her appeal to receive an exemption as a conscientious objector, which was prepared by Adv. Gabi Laski, Kaminer wrote about her year doing civil service working with children in Sderot: “The children growing up in Gaza and the West Bank are growing up in a reality just as hard as Sderot, and they are learning to hate the other side.....when I look at all of the children together, at the future generations of both sides and at the reality that they are growing up in, I see continued trauma and pain. For years now there has been no aspiration to continue the process of finding a political solution, and there is no attempt to bring peace to Gaza and Sderot. But as long as the violent military path is continued, we are creating generations of hate on both sides that only make the situation worse. We have to stop this...and in light of all of this, I cannot in clear conscience take an active role in preserving the current state. That is an action that is against my conscience.”
In addition to Tair, another conscientious objector, Omri Barness, is also currently in military prison, and they join a long list of conscientious objectors who chose not to do military service. Conscientious objectors who choose to declare that they are unwilling to serve in the IDF are judged and sentenced by military courts for prison terms that are not open to public discussion and can end up being many months long. In opposition to Israeli law, which recognizes a citizen’s right to the freedom to follow their own conscience, the IDF Conscience Committee only recognizes certain cases of pacifism, and does not accept the broad range of reasons to refuse to serve based on one’s own conscience.
Misarvot: Press Release, July 2, 2016
Misarvot - Political Conscientious Objector’s Network, is a network of activists that connects all of the initiatives and groups of conscientious objectors from the last few years for coordinated action. The network supports all of the individuals choosing not to join the IDF for reasons of conscience, with full understanding and consideration of the gender issues that mandatory army service causes in Israeli society.