This post is dedicated to former IDF soldier and whistleblower Anat Kamm, a brave woman currently doing time in Israeli jail.
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.