What is real patriotism
'Insubordination is real patriotism'
Tamir: If we look at the situation in Israel, insubordination is real patriotism. I believe that a real patriot is not the one who oppresses or attacks other people or neighbors, but the one who does what is good for his country. And I believe that in today's situation, denial of such unjust orders is good for our country.
Durak: This is a delicate matter and you, like all the others who have done it, will have thought about it for a long time, but in other countries too, insubordination is not so easy for soldiers and officers. Given the attacks by Palestinian suicides, do you hear allegations of traitors to the Israeli people?
Tamir: There are still people in Israel who think that those who refuse to war are traitors. I believe there is no link between suicide bombers and a disobedience to command. Suicide bombers are criminals, that is correct, but that does not justify human rights violations.
Durak: What do you say to Israeli compatriots when such accusations are directed against you?
Tamir: Again, people may say we're doing something wrong. We are absolutely convinced that what we are doing today is the right thing to do and that refusal to war is a very good way of ending violence and war in all strata of the population.
Durak: Which missions did you fight against? What did you not want to do?
Tamir: Personally, I refused to do reserve duty in the occupied territories. Yesh Gvul is Hebrew and means: There is a limit. I believe that this limit is not a territorial-physical limit, it is the limit of conscience. And in my conscience, human rights violations are wrong, and that is where the limit of my obedience lies. Every soldier has a personal moral boundary that one should not cross.
Durak: Have you been punished for this refusal? How does the army even deal with these objectors?
Tamir: Since the beginning of this second intifada, more than 1,100 soldiers and reservists have refused to serve. Of these people, only 120 have been sentenced to prison to date. Usually the tendency of the military authorities is not to punish people. Usually officers get a heavier sentence. Personally, I was in a military prison for 26 days. Usually prison terms range from 14 to 28 days.
Durak: If all or very many Israeli soldiers and officers followed your example and laid down their arms, so to speak, Israel would be defenseless.
Tamir: No, Israel would not be defenseless. What Yesh Gvul encourages is selective denial. Yesh Gvul recognizes the right of every country to have defense military and I believe that all objectors have made it very clear: we are ready to defend our country 100 percent. We are ready to take part in the war of defense. We are not ready to participate in human rights abuses and abuse of military power. And here's the point, it's about the difference between a defensive war and a war of aggression. We deny the war of aggression.
Durak: Do you expect a similar reaction from Palestinians?
Tamir: First of all, I have to say that there are no parallels between the oppressor and the oppressed. In the past few days and weeks, protest has also developed within the Palestinian side. Many Israeli peace movements work very closely with Palestinian peace movements, and I believe that this joint work is part of a real peace process between both sides.
Durak: Thank you for the interview.
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