Movement news: Refusal as Solidarity: Tamar Alon released from the Israeli army after 130 days in prison
Many members of the international TO community have been trying to stay informed about the situation of Tamar Alon, who was imprisoned for a total of 130 days for refusing to serve in the Israeli army. Tamar is the daughter of our friend and colleague Chen Alon. Just as I was finishing writing this update on April 5, Chen conveyed news that Tamar Alon was released from the army on the same day.
Here is a little more context: Upon being called for IDF service in 2016, 18 year-old Tamar Alon declared her refusal to serve. She did so alongside 19 year-old Tamar Zeevi of Jerusalem. Both women were arrested for their refusal on November 16th. Initially, both Tamars were incarcerated in the same prison, but then the state split them up between two facilities. Another way the state worked to discourage their refusal (as it has with others) was to sentence them to various random increments of time, several days, then a longer period again, then a longer period again, and so on. Alon and Zeevi were later joined in refusing by Atalya Ben Abba. Though Zeevi and now Alon have been released from service (with different “official” reasons in each case, detailed below), Atalya Ben Abba currently remains in prison after a total of over 50 days.
In mid-late March, both Zeevi and Alon—who at that time had already been imprisoned for more than 100 days—went before an Israeli military panel that considers refusal to serve for reasons of conscience. As a result of their appearances in front of that panel, Zeevi was released after 115 days of imprisonment, with the committee accepting the claim of conscientious objection. Zeevi was the first person in 13 years to be recognized as a conscientious objector in such a way. Tamar Alon, in contrast, was denied the exemption.
Chen explains that such a panel is the “procedure” for “decriminalization” of one’s refusal to serve. He notes that the military panel’s distinctions between the two women’s objections to the state’s violence are of course part of a “divide and rule” strategy. Tamar Zeevi’s arguments were received by the committee, Chen adds, as “personal, emotional, kind of pacifism,” while Tamar Alon’s arguments were rejected by the panel as “political,” “i.e. civil disobedience, [which is considered by the state to be] illegitimate/illegal resistance to the occupation.” Later Alon went before a different panel which determines “compatibility” with service. That second panel voted against releasing her, but a higher-ranking official intervened, and Alon officially received her exemption. Ultimately, however, the reason for Tamar Alon’s release was framed differently: “incompatibility [with military service] and especially bad behavior.”
As noted in the article by Yael Marom in the final link below, Tamar Alon said the following upon her release from the army: “The price I paid is small compared to the price millions of Palestinians have been paying for 50 years, whose basic rights are violated on a daily basis and whose freedom has yet to be returned to them like mine was returned to me.” She added, “I will continue from within civil society to struggle for a just society and ending the occupation . . . I wish my friends and sisters still in military prison, among them Atalya Ben-Abba, a happy Passover and that they are released from prison quickly.”
As Chen says of Tamar Alon’s 130 days in prison, they are “an example of solidarity.” In a world that is so often shaped by acts of individualism rather than acts of solidarity and collectivity, we especially wanted to share this update with you here.
Chen himself—as many of you know—was also imprisoned for refusal, and is a co-founder of the bi-national movement of Palestinians and Israelis known as Combatants for Peace (http://cfpeace.org/).
The day after Tamar Alon’s release from the army, Chen asked me to pass along one You can find some English-language articles about the refusal of Tamar Alon, Tamar Zeevi, and Atalya Ben Abba here:
-contributed by Kelly Howe, USA
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