I turned into a monster, I can’t look myself in the eye.
Anat Kamm in Tel Aviv District Court on January 26, 2010. She released documents which exposed the ‘IDF’s egregious violation of Israeli law’. In February 2011 she was sentenced to 4 and a half years in prison, a term shortened on appeal; she is expected to be freed in February 2014. (Photo by Chen Galili/ Reuters)
This post is dedicated to former IDF soldier and whistleblower Anat Kamm, a brave woman currently doing time in Israeli jail.
By Mairav Zonszein
June 10, 2013
On May 10th, Breaking the Silence – an organization of veteran IDF soldiers who collect testimonies from soldiers about their past service in the occupied Palestinian territories – released a series of new video testimonies by former female soldiers who testify on camera to the harsh reality of the occupation they participated in and witnessed.
This campaign is of special significance to me because it gives voice to the women who comprise Israel’s army and its mechanism for continued occupation and oppression, happening within a society (local and global) in which, as women, they already exist in a gender power dynamic of systematic discrimination and violence.
They are the ones who can spend two years of their lives serving coffee in uniform, the ones subject almost exclusively to orders from male superiors – from the officers, to the generals, to the chief of staff and defense minister; the ones who are automatically considered less suitable to serve the country because they cannot serve in all the combat units; the ones who need to be much more creative and determined if they want to succeed in Israeli society without following its social norms.
Here is the BTS press release on the campaign, followed by several videos:
These testimonies seek to tell the Israeli public and international community what it means to be a woman serving in the territories. In order to prove oneself as a woman soldier, one needs to be ‘more manly than a man.’ Often, for female soldiers to become ‘one of the guys,’ it means that they must use violence and show force in their everyday tasks. The testimonies paint a difficult picture, whereby whoever isn’t willing to be violent and abusive finds herself socially ostracized. As female soldiers in the OPT, we also had to beat, detain, humiliate and intimidate Palestinians. We weren’t supposed to tell our families and friends what we did and what it means to serve in the territories.
Youtube videos of the women’s testimonies
Soldier 1 ‘I want us as a country to examine the reality. I want to look it in the eye.’
Soldier 2 ‘The first time I felt something was screwed up in this so-called normal military service was then I saw soldiers wearing bullet-proof vests that say Death to the Arabs’
Soldier 3 If a Palestinian annoyed them they would throw him in a tiny cell behind a metal door and forget about him.
Notes and links
A look at Anat Kamm, who leaked secret IDF documents to a Haaretz reporter The Tablet, April 2010
Anti-zionist activists join with Haredi in protest against conscription Resistance to what is no longer a noble calling. May 2013
Besotted with violence and dope: Israel’s soldiers , February 2013
‘Learning to kill is just a habit’: IDF bans soldiers’ protest song