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Thursday, 1 September 2016

Tair Kaminer and Omri Baranes - Israel’s True Heroes

Jailed Repeatedly for Refusing to Serve in Israel’s Army of Occupation

Gaoled repeatedly – they refused to kill and maim by serving in the West Bank.  They are two young women.  Omri Baranes served 67 days in a military gaol and Tair Kaminer will have served 170 days, 6 stints in all, by the time she is finally discharged from the army.
Tair Kaminer and friend

Omri and Tair offered to do national service instead but they were told that only serving in an army that protects settlers, demolishes homes and kills Palestinians will suffice.

These are the Israelis that you won’t hear about from the Zionists who talk of 2 states, in the abstract of course, in Britain.  The hypocrites in the Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel purport to support a 2 States solution in Israel/Palestine knowing full well that the call for 2 States, which will never be achieved, is a smokescreen for denying equal political and civil rights now.  The role of groups like the Jewish Labour Movement and LFI is to support the Israeli state and its role in the region.   They are allied to the Israeli Labour Party, a party which historically has been more racist than Netanyahu’s Likud.  A party which supports segregation in a Bantustan. It doesn’t even support 2 states but ‘autonomy’.
Friends accompany Tair Kaminer on January 10th to Tel Ha’Shomer military base to announce her refusal to do military service. Photo ActiveStills.
The number of Israeli Jews who genuinely support equality and peace is miniscule, just as the number of Whites in South Africa who supported peace was tiny.   Just 8% of Israelis identity with the left in Israel today according to the Pew Research Centre’s  Israel’s Religiously Divided Society.  This is not surprising in a settler colonial society based on ethno-religious supremacy.

This is all the more reason that we should salute Israel’s true heroes like Tair Kaminer and Omri Baranes.   They are the Israelis that socialists in Britain should be supporting.  They are the Israeli Jews that the Labour Party should identify with, not the racists whom the Jewish Labour Movement are associated to.  Labour should long ago have distanced itself from the world’s last remaining settler colonial state.  The fact that Israel calls itself ‘Jewish’ is no excuse for racism and worse.
Omri Baranes sat in military prison for 67 days for refusing to join the Israeli army.

Conscientious objector Omri Baranes. (Hila Aloni Ohayon)
After spending 67 days in military prison, Israeli conscientious objector Omri Baranes was officially released from IDF service on Thursday. Baranes, from the city of Rosh HaAyin in central Israel, was recognized by an IDF committee as a pacifist and was thus released on conscientious grounds. The conscientious objectors committee originally rejected her request, leading Baranes to refuse to serve in the army and sit in prison.
An IDF military prison. Nir Kafri
According to the IDF conscientious objectors who oppose all forms of violence or service in any army are eligible for exemption, as opposed to those who refuse to enlist due to their opposition to a specific army policy — such as the occupation. These kinds of conscientious objectors usually sit for a lengthy period in military prison and are usually released on grounds of unsuitability, as was recently the case with Tair Kaminer, who sat in prison for around 150 days.

“I am very happy that I finally received an exemption from the conscientious objectors committee,” Baranes told +972. “It was a long journey and perhaps I could have avoided it, but now that I am exempted it is all behind me. The first step of not joining the army is over and now I will work through different channels toward peace and equality.”
Tair Kaminer - served a record 172 days in military prison
In her original declaration to the army, Baranes wrote that “bombs and weapons are not the solution to conflicts. War carries the heavy price of victims: our soldiers are killed, as are citizens and residents from both sides. I refuse to be part of an organization that sees things in black and white, which views all the residents of an enemy country as potential enemies, and thus may harm innocent people.”

Yasmin Yablonko, an organizer for conscientious objector organization “Mesarvot,” responded to Baranes’ release:

Omri Baranes’ case clearly shows the army’s twisted worldview toward conscientious objection. Omri may be a pacifist, but the army’s attitude toward pacifism is also twisted. There is an attempt to disconnect conscientious objection from its political context as well as the Israeli reality — a reality of occupation and human rights violations.

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