Dozens of Academics Beseech Israeli Military to Release Conscientious Objector

Tair Kaminer has already spent 170 days in military person, even though she is willing to do national civilian service instead.

Tair Kaminer
Tomer Appelbaum

Several dozen law professors and other academics have written to Military Advocate General Brig. Gen. Sharon Afek to protest the jailing of Tair Kaminer, a young woman who was recently sentenced to military prison for the sixth time because she refuses to serve in the army for reasons of conscience.

At the end of this jail term she will have served 170 days in military prison, the highest total for any female conscientious objector. Kaminer has repeatedly offered to do national civilian service in lieu of military service.

The letter, signed by 39 people, criticized the Israel Defense Forces policy toward conscientious objectors and said that the sentences imposed on Kaminer are disproportionate.

“The refusal of a person to serve in the IDF because such service requires him to act in a manner that he sees as deeply offensive to his basic morals is the realization of his right to freedom of conscience. Punishing him undermines this right, and is permitted only if it complies with proportionality,” the letter reads.

The writers note that they believe the state “is not permitted to impose a lengthy prison term on a person who refuses to serve for reasons of conscience. Such imprisonment is disproportionate. In light of this, we believe that the case of Tair Kaminer is an example of an inappropriate policy.”

Last Thursday Kaminer appeared before a committee that examines the claims of conscientious objectors and which will determine if she can be released for being a pacifist. In her appeal to the committee, Kaminer wrote that she is asking for an exemption from military service for reasons of conscience, and that she has been jailed repeatedly since January for this, even though she wants to do civilian service. Kaminer had previously done a year of national service with the Scouts in Sderot.

“During my year of service and my experience living in Sderot, I went through processes within myself and understood that my conscience does not allow me to serve in the army. I understood that I would not be able to live with myself if I knew I was cooperating and remained silent in the face of everything going on in my country,” she wrote.

“My refusal stems from a desire to contribute to my society and make it a better place, and is part of an ongoing struggle for peace and equality.”

The IDF spokesman refused to respond to the professors’ letter. The signatories included Professors Yuval Shani, David Enoch, Daphna Hacker, Uriel Procaccia, Mordechai Kremnitzer, Barak Medina and Yossi Dahan.